As we have pointed out in our rankings critiques, however, more often than not the differences among schools on student surveys is so slight as to be statistically meaningless. So in any given year, the results may not be worth the paper or bits they are printed on. That’s why we’ve taken the results of the Princeton Review surveys over the past five years and combined them. The cumulative result is far more more credible than any one year which can be something of an anomaly.
Besides UCLA’s lock on first place, what else did we find? Only two other business schools made Princeton Review’s top ten list in each of the past five years. The other two: the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. No argument from us on those choices.
Interestingly enough, Stanford made the list even before its recent move into one of the most attractive and modern business school complexes in the world (see “Stanford’s New $345 Million B-School Campus.”) In fact, Stanford’s inclusion in previous years, ranking as high as fifth in 2009, obviously has more to do with the university’s palm tree campus than it does with its old business school buildings which lacked a single classroom with natural light.
The rugged and scenic West Coast and particularly California do exceptionally well in this ranking. Six of the 20 schools named over the past five years are in California, including the University of San Diego’s business school, Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Loyola is both close to downtown Los Angeles and close to the beach. As one student at the Jesuit school told Princeton Review: “The school’s beauty and location are two of the greatest strengths. It is hard to feel stressed out when you can walk around and see views of the Los Angeles Basin, Pacific Ocean, Marina Del Rey, and Century City skyline.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, many of the schools fail to make Poets&Quants’ list of the top 100 U.S. business schools or our list of the top 50 non-U.S. schools. But while they may be lacking on the academic and placement side of things, these schools attempt to make up for the deficit with picture-postcard settings. Consider the magnificent 1.5 acre Kogod Gardens which welcomes visitors to American University in Washington, D.C., or Appalachian State University nestled in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
And in many cases, you don’t have to give up on a school’s standing to spend two years in a beautifully idyllic setting. Besides Stanford and UCLA, there’s the University of Virginia’s Darden School, which came in sixth, and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, which landed tenth on the list. Having visited these campuses during the winter months, we can say with certainty that there are few sights more beautiful than Charlottesville, Va., or Hanover, N.H., on a day when the snow gently falls to the ground. There’s also No. 11 Emory’s Goizueta School of Business and No. 14 Vanderbilt University’s Owen School, and No. 20 North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, among others.
(See the following page for our ranking of the top 20 business schools with the best campus environment).