How Recruiters Rank The Best Schools

UNDERRATED: THUNDERBIRD SURPRISINGLY SOARS

So you think Thunderbird is circling the drain, do you? The school is awash in red ink and the trustees are up in arms. But you’d never know it from recruiters’ response to the U.S. News survey. Thunderbird’s assessment score jumped by over 25%, landing them in real estate that was occupied by USC (Marshall) and Vanderbilt (Owen) last year. That said, their 61.4% placement rate, second-lowest in the top 100, makes us wonder which recruiters responded to the U.S. News survey. So what other schools are surging? Here are the schools where recruiter perceptions are boosting schools’ overall rankings:

School2015 Overall Rank2014 Overall Rank’15 Recruiter Rank’14 Recruiter Rank’15 Recruiter Score’14 Recruiter Score’15 Difference’14 Difference
Thunderbird858831773.32.6-54-11
Buffalo747522253.63.3-52-50
Texas Tech87NR41NA3.2NA-46NA
St. Thomas100NR54NA3.1NA-46NA
Alabama7458312.63.32.6-4319
Colorado807941773.22.6-39-2
West Virginia9210454973.12.4-38-7
Rensselaer879654883.12.5-33-8
Cincinnati609931593.32.8-29-40
William & Mary827054373.13.0-28-33
UT-Dallas373712164.03.8-25-21
Syracuse797954373.13.0-25-42
Pittsburgh526131593.32.8-21-2
Binghamton767954373.13.0-22-42
Texas Christian767954773.12.6-22-2
UC-San Diego607341593.22.8-19-14
Oregon969178882.92.5-18-3
Wake Forest584741503.22.9-173
Missouri585241333.23.1-17-19
SMU555241373.23.0-14-15

Source: P&Q analysis based on U.S. News & World Report 2015 business school ranking

Tthe University of Alabama (Manderson) supplied the wildest swing. In the 2014 rankings, recruiters were lukewarm towards the school. This year, they discovered how undervalued it was, with its recruiter score shooting up 0.7 points. And this occurred despite the school dropping 16 places. Due to this correction, Alabama is now viewed as underrated. Considering Alabama’s upward trajectory until most recent rankings, expect them to settle into a more balanced position in 2016.

Texas Tech certainly burst onto the scene in the 2015 rankings. But don’t get too excited. Their graduates’ $51,687 starting salary is the third-lowest among top 100 schools. The University of Colorado (Leeds)’s rise may also be a mirage, as its three month placement rate is among the lowest at 68.8%. But if you’re seeking certainty, you’d be hard pressed to beat the University of Albany, which had a 100% placement rate for its 78 students.

Ironically, last year’s more underrated program – North Carolina State (Jenkins) – doesn’t appear among the overperformers or the underrateds. Jenkins’ overall rank jumped 23 spots in 2015. As a result, quantitative data and recruiter opinions are in better alignment here.

THE BIG PREDICTION

So what can we expect in the 2016 rankings? Consider this: 43 schools increased their recruiter score by 0.2 points or better (and 23 schools by 0.4 points or more). In economics, that’s called a bubble. Expect these inflated numbers to pop next year, with many schools slingshotting back to their 2014 numbers. And those corrections mean you’ll likely see slightly lower index numbers and overall rankings for this year’s pets among recruiters.

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