In addition to rankings, rivalries, and GMAT scores, President Donald Trump — and his graduating from Pennsylvania’s Wharton School — provided another source of heated bickering between commenters. One of the early instances happened in February, when we reported on an article published by The Daily Pennsylvanian. The article unearthed the Dean’s List for the 1968 Wharton class of undergrads. Despite Trump’s claims of finishing at the top of his class, his name is absent from the list of 56 names officially on the Dean’s List, which represented the top 15% of that year’s graduating class.
Commenter Charles Martel was quick to defend the president’s claims.
“Not so fast. First, it’s hard to know whether transfers at Penn in the ’60s were eligible for Latin honors or to be ranked as class valedictorian. Second, the actual text of the article in Daily Pennsylvania is pretty favorable to Trump’s academic seriousness,” Charles Martel wrote.
Our Editor-in-Chief John Byrne responded: “It wouldn’t be important at all if Trump hadn’t claimed he graduated first in his class. Who really cares, after all? It’s just another example of a falsehood.”
Said Charles Martel: “I don’t know whether it’s important, but you’ve failed to refute his claim. It does occur to me, however, that he might have received a departmental award from the real estate dept.”
And then Karen Russell, another commenter, stepped in.
“How is his claim not refuted? He’s not on the Dean’s List; he’s not listed as having received any awards. How does one graduate at the top of his class and not have it noted in the program at the very least. I’m sorry, but you’re simply grasping at straws and making excuses for the sorriest excuse of a president this country’s ever elected,” Karen Russell wrote.
Then Charles Martel: “Read the article, darlin’. It’s obvious from the quotes that Trump was a committed and serious student. And as I explained, it’s very possible that Penn in the ’60s — and possibly now — didn’t consider transfers eligible for Latin honors, etc. This is a fairly common practice.”
Karen Russell’s response?
“Not your darling and what article did you read?”
As showcased at last night’s Golden Globes Awards, gender is an incredibly heated topic at the moment. Elite business schools do not (totally) exist in a silo, and thus they are often impacted by national events and discourse. Last March, students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business found themselves in the crosshairs. Soon after posting to YouTube a video promoting an upcoming “follies” show, criticism of the video started pouring in. One writer called the video “misogynistic,” and a mostly constructive gender politics debate ensued.
But our favorite comment of the 17 at the bottom of the article was a simple and important one. It came from an anonymous poster named “Errrrm.”
“Gender politics aside, can talk about how objectively unfunny, un-clever and deeply uncool this is?”
Also back in March, we covered the opening of Northwestern Kellogg’s new $250 million lakefront building. The 415,000-square-foot structure appears to be a massive upgrade from the previous — and relatively boring — home of the elite B-school. Commenters deluged the article with 26 comments ranging from more Yale trolling to calling out our reporting. But our favorite comment thread came from a poster named “Mies” who took deep umbrage with the new digs.
We’re not sure if Mies is being serious or sarcastic, but either way, one particular response to the comment made us laugh.
“The new building is one of the reasons I reject Kellogg’s offer this year. Looking at this building from an architectural stand point, it hardly has real innovation. It is totally understandable that Kellogg administration wants this new facility to be collaborative, transparent and exciting, which however ironically leads to a learning facility that very much looks like a shopping mall,” Mies wrote.
Mies’ comment continued in great detail about how a business school building should accurately reflect a school’s overall brand and mission. It also compared (in great detail) other schools that were at an architectural advantage. And then a commenter named Current Student weighed in with not only a retort, but with some sage life advice.
“I understand the points you are making but it sounds like you need to forgo the business school experience in exchange for a masters in architecture,” Current Student wrote. “We have a new building, it’s gorgeous, and it better suits our needs as a growing institution. I enrolled in Kellogg when it was in an old concrete box. But that was certainly not my measure for success when choosing the right business school for me. Turning down a business school for its building is like turning down a job offer because of the office cafeteria. Maybe it’s time to look into architecture …”
Sometimes before publishing, we have an idea if a particular article is going to really rile people up. To be clear, we do not publish articles only for this purpose. But it’s a simple fact: some topics we cover are going to set people off more than others. Other times, a firestorm of comments erupts when we least expect it. The most prominent example this last year: our Meet the Class feature for the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
By all accounts, this is a highly regarded land grant university in the relatively calm Pacific Northwest. Like the state, it’s just kinda there.
And then a commenter named Jonathan made a troll-move. “Why does P&Q keep featuring schools like this that nobody realistically wants to go to?” Jonathan asked the rest of the P&Q community.
It set off a totally warranted — and heated — argument. “Avivalasvegas” stepped in again and made an incredibly bold and general claim with no data or evidence to back it up.
“I have classmates from my graduating class who are now Senior Managers/Directors at Amazon. As a general rule of thumb, Foster MBAs are hired into L5 roles. M7 school grads are typically hired into L6 roles at Amazon. Feel free to cross check this yourself,” avivalasvegas wrote.
The argument soon dwindled to avivalasvegas and a commenter named “Josh,” then a commenter named “Jeremey,” and finally “warren.” All three took turns at feeding the avivalasvegas trolling. It’s all too much to fully rehash in this article, but finally, out of nowhere, warren weighs in with a final proposal:
“Happy that we finally have reached a common ground: Washington’s Foster is great school.”
In November, we reported that for the first time ever more Kellogg MBAs went to a region other than the Midwest for work. That region? The West Coast. We’re not totally sure why (other than classic internet trolling), but this set off one commenter.
“Why anybody would want to live in California is beyond me. It’s a far left morally bankrupt hellhole (you can pretty much say the same thing about Seattle, WA, too),” wrote Nidjd Nufh.
Full disclosure: Poets&Quants is headquartered in California. The majority of our staff live in California. That being said, let’s visit some stats. In 2016, California’s GDP was $2.5 trillion. That’s more than $1 trillion higher than the next highest state and larger than every other country in the world besides the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, and the U.K. The state’s highest exports in 2015? Computers and electronics, vehicles and machinery, and agriculture, food, and beverages. Not to mention, the state has some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces and enjoys some of the best weather in the world.
Far left? Perhaps? Morally bankrupt? Hardly. Hellhole? That’s laughable. Now, if the commenter wants to talk about traffic and the cost of living, we might be able to find some common ground …
It wouldn’t be a top comment list without our resident wise guy, Sandy Kreisberg, the founder of HBSGuru.com. Kreisberg’s commenter name is hbsguru and he is probably our most frequent commenter — especially when it comes to admissions-related news. Last June, we first reported that Stanford Graduate School of Business’s incoming Class of 2017 had an average GMAT score of 740 — higher than any other full-time MBA class that we know of.
Kreisberg was the first commenter on the article and offered a lengthy breakdown. But we appreciate his summarizing statement most.
“… the Stanford motto is ‘Change lives. Change organizations. But first — Change your GMAT score.'”