Rampant Grade Inflation in Academic Rankings
For critics who charge that grade inflation is rampant on campus, here is some ammunition: Academics were more likely to give higher grades to schools than recruiters did. This is especially pronounced among top 50 schools.
Take the top 20 MBA programs, for example. Here, 18 peer assessment scores were higher than their corresponding recruiter scores. For example, both academics and recruiters ranked Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford as the #1 MBA programs. However, academics gave these schools an average score of 4.8, while recruiters were 0.2 points lower at 4.6. On average, academic scores were a .0235 point higher than recruiter scores in the top 20.
Among top 50 schools overall, academics ranked schools higher than recruiters 41 times…or 82 percent of the time (i.e. a rate four times higher than all other scoring). In this set, recruiters ranked five schools higher than academics, while academics and recruiters gave schools the same score four times. Interestingly, academic scores, on average, were a .15 point higher than recruiter scores for schools ranked 21-50.
In short, reputation carries tremendous weight among academics. With their assessments weighing at a quarter of a school’s overall rank, they’re theoretically producing a self-perpetuating spiral, where top 50 school rankings are artificially inflated, to an extent, by the peer assessment score.
Sound harsh? Consider this statistic: Among schools ranked 51-100 (53 schools in all), the numbers are almost inverted. Recruiters ranked these schools higher than academics 30 times…or 56.6 percent of the time. In this set, academics ranked 12 schools higher than recruiters for a 22.6 percent clip (a steep drop from 82 percent higher scores from academics for top 50 schools). Schools received the same score from recruiters and academics 11 times (20.8 percent). What’s more, recruiter scores were, on average, only .149 points higher than academic ones for schools ranked 51-100 (nearly identical to the .15 point swing for schools ranked 21-50).
Top 20 Schools: Booth Isn’t a #1 School to Recruiters
Surprisingly, academics ranked Booth as an equal to Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton in their rankings. But recruiters aren’t buying it. Although Booth earned a 4.8 average score among academics, the school was dinged by recruiters with a 4.4 average (the same score given to cross-town rival Kellogg). Why? Academically, Booth boasts a strong track record, including seven faculty members winning Nobel prizes (the most recent being Eugene Fama in 2013), an all-star faculty, and a pioneering LEAD (Leadership and Effective Development) course. Still, numbers don’t lie: Booth’s starting salary and bonus ($135,982) comes up to $5500 below Wharton, while its three month placement rate is only a hair above Harvard and Stanford. Among recruiters, Booth is an exception school…it just isn’t the best.
So which schools produce the biggest discrepancies between academics and recruiters? Check out the next page to find out.