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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Academics vs. Recruiters: Which Schools Perform the Best? 06-10

Academics vs. Recruiters: Which Schools Perform the Best?


It’s the age-old question: Do you go to school for an education or a job?
Call it the proverbial chicken-or-egg argument. Without a degree, most employers won’t consider you. They’ll assume you lack the tools (and the grit) to thrive on the job. But education, for its own sake, doesn’t pay the bills. It needs to be channeled, grown and tested. And there’s no better place to apply knowledge than in a business.
The Tensions Between Academia and Business
Still, there’s an underlying tension between academics and employers. At times, employers will deride colleges as “ivory towers,” free from the pressures of meeting payroll and changing business cycles. You’ll hear professors dismissed with phrases like, “Those who can do, and those who can’t teach.” And what new grad hasn’t had a boss quip about ‘re-training” them at orientation.
But it isn’t just managers who think this way. In any faculty lounge, you’re certain to be subjected to a treatise on how today’s companies lack basic fundamentals (if not ethics). And despite reams of research and writings, many educators still wonder helplessly why companies don’t follow through on their empirically-proven ‘best practices’ (If a study makes the Strategic Management Journal, but isn’t acted upon, does it really make a sound?).
Stereotypes abound: Educators are “out of touch,” while companies are only “out for the quick buck.” Sure, they partner (if not compete), as companies are being launched out of incubators and curriculum is being developed in-house. But academics and employers have two separate functions. Academics must trim a conflicting body of theory and cases, whose size and complexity are accelerating at light speed. And employers, however noble, can only apply a sliver of it. They’re simply too busy (and understaffed), operating on-the-fly to satisfy customers, outflank competitors, and remain solvent.
Business students also experience these tensions. And it starts with how they’re ultimately evaluated. If you’re academically-inclined, you probably measure yourself by grades, rank, and accolades. If you’re among the ‘grades don’t matter’ set, you’re focused on making connections, holding leadership posts, and landing the right internship. In this set, placement and compensations are the real metrics for success.
How They Evaluate Schools Differently
With different roles and responsibilities, schools and companies, to an extent, value different aspects of the educational experience. And that comes out loud-and-clear in the 2015 U.S. News and World Report rankings. Here, surveys from academics and company recruiters account for 40 percent of a school’s rank (with peer assessments from deans and MBA program directors comprising 25 percent). Using a five point scale, where 1 is marginal and 5 is outstanding, each group assesses the value of various MBA programs (with respondents able to mark “Don’t Know” on specific schools). For the 2015 rankings, 42 percent of academics targeted responded to the survey, nearly twice the response rate of recruiters (18 percent). As a result, the recruiter survey results were averaged for the past two years.
Through these surveys, you can set academics and recruiter opinions side-by-side, to gauge how much value each places in particular institutions. For academics, the peer assessment is a measure of a school’s brand equity, the perception of intellectual quality and rigor of the faculty, curriculum, and student body. For recruiters, the scores reflect the caliber of students they interview and hire, particularly their skill sets and “fit” within given organizations.
The downside of the peer assessments, of course, is that many respondents spend little time on the campuses they evaluate, making their scores more subjective than normal. While recruiters invest heavily in campus visits, their evaluations are colored by their employers’ ends as much as academic quality.

Grade Inflation

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.

Top 20 MBA Programs
2014 Over-all Rank2015 Over-all Rank2015 Recruiter Assess-ment Rank2015 Peer Assess-ment RankInstitution2015 Recruiter Assessment Score2015 Peer Assess-ment ScoreDifference
3111Penn (Wharton)4.64.8-0.2
6451Chicago (Booth)4.44.8-0.4
4545MIT (Sloan)4.54.7-0.2
4655Northwestern (Kellogg)4.44.7-0.3
7797California-Berkeley (Haas)4.24.6-0.4
991210Dartmouth (Tuck)4.04.3-0.3
1411128Michigan (Ross)4.04.4-0.4
12111212Virginia (Darden)4.04.2-0.2
11141010Duke (Fuqua)4.14.3-0.2
17151017Texas-Austin (McCombs)4.140.1
16171216Cornell (Johnson)4.04.1-0.1
19182017Carnegie Melon (Tepper)3.74-0.3
20192017North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)3.74-0.3
18202417Emory (Goizueta)3.54-0.5

Berkeley's Haas School of Business
Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
Let’s start with the University of California-Berkeley (Haas), the University of Michigan (Ross), and UCLA (Anderson). Each school is ranked much higher by academics than recruiters by a 0.4 margin. Notice anything else? Yes, each is a big state, public business school.
Ross, in particular, demonstrates its academic prowess by ranking #4 on the latest research rankings published by the University of Texas-Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management (ranking ahead of Stanford, Booth, Kellogg and Sloan). With alum Stephen M. Ross pumping $100 million dollars into his namesake to beef up career services and attract corporate partners, expect the University of Michigan to close the gap between academic and recruiter scores in the near future.
Haas should benefit from its close proximity to the venture capital, and technology entrepreneurship opportunities inherent to Silicon Valley. Despite these built-in advantages, Haas scores a 4.2 among recruiters overall, a strong score but a slight disappointment nonetheless. Still, the school maintains a 91.6 percent placement rate within three months of graduation (higher than Stanford), along with average starting graduate salaries of $134,078 (respectable, but also a shade below average compensations given to grads from lower-ranked schools like Fuqua, Tuck and Darden). However, the school lags behind grads being hired at top consulting firms (with the exception of Ernst and Young and PwC), which could slightly skew its average starting salaries.
UCLA’s 3.8 recruiter score befits its #18 overall rank. However, Anderson’s 4.2 academic score ranks it alongside higher-ranked programs like NYU (Stern) and the University of Virginia (Darden). So what’s the real story? Technically, employers aren’t overly enamored with UCLA grads, as evidenced by its 84.7 percent placement rate, a rate lower than schools like #58 Wake Forest and #82 Kansas (not to mention in-state rivals like the University of California-Irvine and the University of California-Davis). Still, the school has recently been undergoing a facelift on the fly, overhauling its curriculum and establishing a consistent identity with its revamped branding. The result, not surprisingly, has been the recruitment of its highest caliber class yet, which could shift these numbers when we re-visit recruiter scores, starting salaries, and placement rates in two to three years.
Emory University (Goizueta) produced the biggest incongruity between recruiters and academics, with 3.5 and 4.0 scores, respectively. This could partly stem from its recruiter and peer assessment scores climbing by 0.1 and 0.2 point over the previous year. Despite this, this discrepancy is surprising, as Emory leads all top 50 MBA program in graduate placement at a 96.2 percent clip (not withstanding graduates’ enviable starting salaries and bonuses of $124,148). And this begs the question: Are the recruiters rating Emory the same ones who hire their graduates? That is likely a question for Erika Hayes James, who recently took the reins as dean at Emory. Considering James’ background as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies and her role as senior associate dean at teaching-driven Darden, expect academics and recruiters to enjoy the best of both worlds at Goizueta.
Overall, Yale and the University of Texas (McCombs) were the only schools in the top 20 to score higher among recruiters than academics. Yale’s recruiter score climbed from 4.1 to 4.3 over the past year, as the tenure of Dean “Turnaround Ted” Snyder continues to pay dividends (despite data to the contrary). With McCombs poised to break ground on a buff new home for its MBA program, expect the school’s academic reputation to rise in the coming years.
Schools 21-50: Jindal: The Quest for Respect Continues
As always, the University of Texas-Dallas  sticks out when it comes to U.S. News rankings. It nabbed an eye-catching 4.0 score from recruiters, making them an equal to McCombs in Texas (and Tepper,  Goizueta, and Kenan-Flagler elsewhere). Jindal’s job stats are hard to beat, with an 89.2 placement rate (though its average starting compensation of $83,944 is a bit on the low side). Value-wise, the program reports a 5:1 salary-to-debt ratio for new grads. Academically, the school possesses some real chops, ranking #17 in the last research rankings (which Jindal sponsors). The school even maintains the ninth most-stringent acceptance rate. Still, academics hammer Texas-Dallas with a 2.7 peer assessment score, a lower average than what #100 American University received (No offense to Kogod). Question is, what does Jindal need to do to get academics to take a deeper look?
As noted earlier, academics tended to rank schools in this range higher than recruiters (Making Jindal’s scoring all the more glaring). How did schools like Indiana University, Notre Dame,Vanderbilt, and USC fare? Click on the next page to see.
Schools Ranked 21-50
2014 Over-all Rank2015 Over-all Rank2015 Recruiter Assess-ment Rank2015 Peer Assess-ment RankInstitution2015 Recruiter Assessment Score2015 Peer Assess-ment ScoreDifference
22211821Indiana (Kelley)3.83.9-0.1
21222623Washington U. of St. Louis (Olin)3.43.7-0.3
27232225Notre Dame (Mendoza)
25232423Georgetown (McDonough)3.53.7-0.2
23252634Washington (Foster)
30253128Vanderbilt (Owen)3.33.5-0.2
26272622USC (Marshall)3.43.8-0.4
27272634Georgia Tech (Scheller)
30273128Arizona State (Carey)3.33.5-0.2
30273151BYU (Marriott)
27274125Ohio State (Fisher)3.23.6-0.4
23334128Minnesota (Carlson)3.23.5-0.3
30335434Rice (Jones)3.13.4-0.3
43354134Michigan State (Broad)3.23.4-0.2
37371287University of Texas-Dallas4.02.71.3
35372642Texas A&M (Mays)
37375442Rochester (Simon)3.13.3-0.2
44403128Purdue (Krannert)3.33.5-0.2
49413134Penn State (Smeal)3.33.4-0.1
37415428Maryland College Park (Smith)3.13.5-0.4
36417842Florida (Hough)2.93.3-0.4
49454142California-Irvine (Merage)3.23.3-0.1
40455442Boston College (Carroll)3.13.3-0.2
40456851Boston U.3.03.1-0.1
44484134Arizona (Eller)3.23.4-0.2
52484134Georgia (Terry)3.23.4-0.2
58487865Temple (Fox)
 University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business is ranked 64th among the top 100 business schools in the U.S. by Poets&Quants.
University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business
The University of Illinois also stands out on this list, with a 3.6 score among academics and a 2.8 average from recruiters. According to Jindal’s research ranking, Illinois is a top 25 school. What’s more, the school is drawing stronger candidates, with average GMATs jumping from 634 to 661 over the past four years (coupled with an average incoming undergraduate GPA of 3.41, which is up .11 over the same timeframe). Despite this, the school is handcuffed by a staid 84.7 placement rate and a $94,751 average starting salary for grads. Clearly, the school has work to do. Judging by its 12 spot jump in the latest U.S. News ranking, the Champaign school is trending upwards.
Other schools with higher scores among academics than recruiters include: USC (Marshall), (-0.4), Ohio State (Fisher) (-0.4), the University of Maryland (Smith) (-0.4), and the University of Florida (Hough) (-0.4). Not surprisingly, Smith and Marshall are top 10 research institutions according to Jindal (with Fisher ranking in the top 20). However, ambivalent recruiter sentiments towards Marshall and Hough are reflected in the schools’ disappointing 80.2 and 83.0 percent placement rates.
Schools 51-100: Who Are Recruiters’ Best-Kept Secrets
Recruiters don’t have time to visit every campus. They focus on schools with the highest return (i.e. where the curriculum and culture historically produce employees who best align with their needs and expectations). And they don’t necessarily seek these candidates out in the top schools, where students are sometimes wined-and-dined.
Instead, they head off to those underserved schools, where they can choose from high performers with even higher ceilings. The University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business is an example. Sporting a 3.3 score from recruiters (equal to Vanderbilt), Katz starts with a stringent screening process, a 27.0 percent acceptance rate to be exact. While their average GMATs and GPAs – 622 and 3.35 – are the norm for a school ranked #52 overall, recruiters know that they’re choosing from the best students in that range. And it shows in the school’s 88.4 percent placement rate.  While Katz’s $84,179 average starting salary doesn’t stand out, the school offers the highest return on investment for first-year graduates according toThe Economist.
Alas, schools like Katz see fewer recruiters. Based on recruiter scores, some smaller schools are making a big impression when they do hit campus. To see how schools ranked from 51-100 score among recruiters and academics, click on the next two pages.
Schools Ranked 51-75
2014 Over-all Rank2015 Over-all Rank2015 Recruiter Assess-ment Rank2015 Peer Assess-ment RankInstitution2015 Recruiter Assessment Score2015 Peer Assess-ment ScoreDifference
44518851Iowa (Tippie)2.83.1-0.3
61523151Pittsburgh (Katz)
58526865University of Connecticut3.02.90.1
52554148SMU (Cox)
73555451South Carolina (Moore)
66558851Arkansas (Walton)2.83.1-0.3
47584151Wake Forest (Babcock)
52584176Missouri (Trulaske)
99603176Cincinnati (Lindner)
73604158University of California-San Diego (Rady)
61636865Utah (Eccles)
67637858Tulane (Freeman)2.93.0-0.1
56655442Babson (Olin)3.13.3-0.2
67655476Oklahoma (Price)
52656848Case Western (Weatherhead)3.03.2-0.2
56656858George Washington3.03.00.0
61656865Louisiana State (Ourso)
70656865Baylor (Hankemer)
88656887North Carolina State (Jenkins)
70739687Iowa State2.72.70.0
75742287Buffalo SUNY3.62.70.9
58743196Alabama (Manderson)
79765487Texas Christian (Neeley)
79765498Binghamton (SUNY)
Schools Ranked 76-100
2014 Over-all Rank2015 Over-all Rank2015 Recruiter Assess-ment Rank2015 Peer Assess-ment RankInstitution2015 Recruiter Assessment Score2015 Peer Assess-ment ScoreDifference
96766858Pepperdine (Graziadio)
79795465Syracuse (Whitman)
79804148Colorado (Leeds)
NA8010287Delaware (Lerner)2.52.7-0.2
70825465William & Mary (Mason)
75828876CUNY (Zicklin)
88853158Thunderbird School of Global Management3.33.00.3
93857876DePaul (Kellstadt)
874196Texas Tech (Rawls)
96875487Rensselaer Polytech (Lally)
86877899U. of Albany SUNY2.92.40.5
86878876San Diego State2.82.80.0
101879658Claremont Graduate (Drucker)2.73.0-0.3
104925499West Virginia3.12.40.7
96927887University of Houston (Bauer)
91967865Oregon (Lundquist)
84969665Bentley University (McCallum)2.72.9-0.2
919610176University of Miami (FL)2.62.8-0.2
9396102102Tulsa (Collins)
NA1005499University of St. Thomas3.12.40.7
931008876Kentucky (Gatton)
NA10088103Mississippi State2.82.20.6
1041009676American U. (Kogod)2.72.8-0.1

St. Thomas Opus College of Business

The following schools scored much higher among recruiters than they did among academics: The University of Missouri (Trulaske) (+0.4), the University of Cincinnati (Lindner) (+0.5), Buffalo University (+0.9), the University of Alabama (Manderson) (+0.7), Texas Christian University (Neeley) (+0.4), Binghamton University (+0.6), Texas Tech University (Rawls) (+0.4), the University of Albany (+0.5), West Virginia University (+0.7), the University of St. Thomas  (+0.7), and Mississippi State University (+0.6).
St. Thomas, in particular, appears to be a school on the rise. Despite ranking #100, the Minneapolis-based school managed a 3.1 recruiter score, equal to top 50 programs like Rice University (Jones) and the University of Rochester (Simon). With 91 students in the full-time program (and 774 students enrolled part-time), St. Thomas is best-known for poaching Michigan State’s dean earlier this spring. Graduates earn a respectable starting salary of $80,667 and a placement rate of 77.8%.
Similarly, Albany University’s 100 percent placement rate reflects employer satisfaction with their grads. However, the program comes with a major drawback: Starting salary for grads is $56,600.
The Big Takeaway: Reputation and Results Both Matter
So will academics and recruiters ever see eye-to-eye? In general, they already do, particularly in MBA programs, the lifeblood of so many companies’ managerial ranks. With MBA hiring on the rise, businesses are obviously buying what business schools are selling.
From looking at the peer assessments, one theme comes through: Academics seemingly believe the top 20 business schools have erected their gleaming centers on the shores of Lake Wobegon, where all the professors are cutting edge, all the students carry high GMATs, and all the employers are lining up to hire their grads. Compared to recruiter scores, these academic peer assessments are lax and bloated. And they create a two tiered system where higher-ranked schools are potentially propped up by brand and reputation, relegating the rest to being afterthoughts.