Why A Goat Farmer Ranks Business Schools

However, data purportedly used for the rankings, such as graduation rates for many online programs, and instructors’ online-teaching experience, isn’t publicly available.

Although Prato and Sparacio’s TheBestColleges.org puts Capella at No. 6 and Walden at No. 11 in its “Top 12 Online MBA Programs,” the rest of the list is a conglomeration of mostly “never heard of it” schools such as Northcentral University at No. 2, Colorado Christian at No. 4, and Herzing University at No. 5. Temple University, where Sparacio studied philosophy and taught as a grad student, sits at No. 1. On Sparacio’s blog, he is given to philosophizing:

'Don't try this with a dull knife,' rankings maestro says - buschraftuk.com photo

‘Don’t try this with a dull knife,’ rankings maestro says – buschraftuk.com photo

“You can’t skin a rabbit with a dull knife.” That insight might not qualify as life-changing, but at least it makes more sense than “Capella University has the seventh-best online MBA program in America.”

When Poets&Quants visits BestCollegeReviews’ “Top 10 Online MBA Programs” and sends in a request for information about first-ranked Kenan-Flagler, it takes only five minutes for an emailed form letter to arrive from Susan Cates, executive director for the school’s online MBA program, MBA@UNC, and associate dean for Kenan-Flagler executive education. What follows are 14 more emails over six weeks from Kenan-Flagler, including five from admissions counselor Katherine “Katie” Heffelmire. “Did you receive the email I sent on 9/5?” Heffelmire inquires. “Sometimes it gets caught in the spam folder.”


The spam folder? I should hope not – after all, this is Kenan-Flagler, ranked among the top 20 American B-schools by Poets&Quants, Businessweek, and U.S. News & World Report, and 35th in the world by The Economist. But we better check that folder anyway. Let’s see, here’s a sure-fire stock tip, here’s a free gift, hmmm, something in Chinese, and, goodness, hey, here’s a nice message from Katie, wishing us well and wondering if we’re still interested in an online MBA at Kenan-Flagler, or if she should close our “account.”

How on earth did this important final missive end up in our spam folder? Not to worry, Poets&Quants will be in touch with Kenan-Flagler.

Right after we contact Sparacio.

Unlike his online alter ego Ryan Caldwell, Sparacio is a living, breathing human. And a poet:

“Fiery and feisty

a fighter

her mind moves

like well-crafted hips . . . ”


Sparacio’s blog – the domain name’s registered to his imaginary associate Caldwell – contains those poetic words and many more, along with Sparacio’s musings on various topics such as his embrace of the meat-focused “Paleo diet,” and descriptions of his life. “I’ve been building a small farm for the last 2-3 years,” says a 2012 post. “Right now I have two beef cows with another on the way. I also have four goats with approximately 6-9 babies on the way. And I have 4 chickens.”

On top of farming, Sparacio works as a trainer at Tenacity Adventure Fitness in Tracy City, which describes him online as “passionate about helping people reach their own personal fitness goals in a natural and healthy way.”

But as we’ve seen, there’s way more to this man’s life than wrangling goats, doing jumping jacks, and cooking Mexican Beef Casserole. He’s got ambition.

In a blog post titled “My life for April 2012,” Sparacio writes that he’s training for a Tough Mudder obstacle-course race; “putting a pond in at bottom of property;” and “aiming to hit 300 leads this month and 900 by August.”

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