The Top Business Schools: Social Life, Networking, Career Support, and Financial Aid
Ah, yes…yet another ranking.
You can slice-and-dice business schools any way you want. You can take GMAT scores to measure the IQ of any incoming class. Placement rates and starting salaries can reveal a school’s reach and renown. And let’s not forget annual giving, the ultimate metric to quantify how students really feel about their alma maters.
Alas, every benchmark carries flaws. Take GMATs and GPAs, for example. High intelligence gets you in the door. But commitment and character – two traits nearly impossible to calculate – are better indices for success. While starting jobs and salaries provide breathing room to battered administrators, you really can’t judge a class’ success rate for a decade or more.
And that brings us to another metric: student feedback. No, you won’t find such sentiments in U.S. News & World Report. But ignore them at your peril. Alumni are the backbone of any institution. They can withhold their dollars, participation, and blessings. With the advent of sites like GraduatePrograms, their voices can carry.
Recently, Business Insider posted GraduatePrograms’ rankings of graduate business programs in the areas of social life and networking. To generate school scores, GraduatePrograms asks site visitors to score programs on 15 categories, using a 10-point scoring system (where 10 is the highest possible score). So far, the site has received feedback from over 70,000 graduate students, with programs ranked once a school meets a “minimum threshold of graduate student surveys” (which is not identified on the site).
So how accurate is the data? Well, you wouldn’t want to base your school decision on it. Although the scores among the schools tend to be high, there is generally a range. For example, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, which generated 22 responses from students and graduates, scored eight or above in 12 out of 15 categories. However, the real issue is response rates, with ranked programs like Tulane, Dartmouth, and Drexel generating 22 responses between them. In other words, it only takes a survey or two to really skew a school’s score in some cases.
The surveys also yield wildly unconventional rankings. For full-time MBA programs, respondents ranked Ohio State, Vanderbilt, and the University of Buffalo #2, #3, and #7 respectively. Among all graduate business programs, Rice University beats out Dartmouth College by .02 points, with Harvard and Stanford trailing far behind at #10 and #11 respectively.
That said, GraduatePrograms offers a rare benefit: qualitative feedback from students themselves. In other words, you don’t just get numbers, but learn exactly why a school earns a particular score.
So how do specific school rank? GraduatePrograms has produced graduate business school rankings in four categories: social life, networking, career support, and financial, with ratings changing as new surveys are added (Poets&Quants pulled the numbers below on September 22nd). Although the ratings aren’t particularly reliable – and they cover executive and online programs as well as full-timers – the actual feedback (which follow the rankings) provide plenty of insights.
|4||University of Texas-Austin||9.688|
|5||Thunderbird School of Global Management||9.625|
|6||London Business School||9.600|
|8||University of Pennsylvania||9.581|
|9||University of California-Berkeley||9.577|
|11||University of Kansas||9.250|
|14||University of Virginia||9.100|
ESADE (11 Respondents):
“In terms of diversity, social life and the city itself (Barcelona), you can’t find better.”
“The school comprises of highly diverse students in terms of their cultural backgrounds and professional careers. The atmosphere is extremely welcoming and non-competitive.”
University of Texas (17 Respondents):
“Furthermore, one of the biggest attractions to Austin is the entrepreneurial scene. The Texas Venture Labs program gives students the opportunity to intern with a local startup and become a strategic consultant as they try to help the firm grow. Last but not least, Austin is an amazing city to live in. The cost of living is cheaper than most cities of its size, the weather is great…”
Harvard (27 Respondents):
“Boston/Cambridge is a fun town with lots of good food, places to hang out, other academic centers (MIT, BU, Berklee, etc.), and cultural activities.”