This is not yet another EssaySnark rant about rankings.
Instead what we’re calling out today is the utter confusion that is the BusinessWeek bschool dataset.
On a recent day this month (June 2014) we pulled up the BusinessWeek page for Yale SOM, and it looked something like this:
That’s cool, very helpful. Average GMAT score right front and center, and a bunch of other key datapoints too, including:
Great information. Useful data. The only problem?
Which year is it for?
Or actually, which years?? They’re not likely reporting average GMAT data and salary information for the same class. Typically a school reports average GMAT on the incoming class, and salary on the one that’s graduating. To use a “today” example, we might expect to see GMAT data on the Class of 2016 — who hasn’t even arrived on campus yet — and salary data on the Class of 2014, who’s just left school and therefore data isn’t even available yet. So since those two datasets aren’t available yet, then that means we’d expect Class of 2015 GMAT data and Class of 2013 jobs data to be published on BusinessWeek. The point is, these are different sets of students, and there are often some very big variances between those two populations.
But whatever. We can forgive BW for lumping these different populations together in an attempt to give a snapshot for the school. However the next problem we encounter is, WHAT YEAR IS THIS FOR?
In case you’re not aware, BusinessWeek’s rankings of MBA programs are released every two years, usually in November. So the header that shows Yale SOM as the 21st best school, sandwiched between Notre Dame Mendoza at #20 and Goizueta Emory at #22, is the latest ranking available, which was released in November 2012.
As in November, in the year 2012.
Doesn’t that seem like absolutely ages ago???
So we’re sitting here in June 2014. There will be a new rankings released this fall. While we actually don’t care much where BusinessWeek will end up placing Yale SOM when they re-do their list (for the record, we would hardly be ones to place Yale ***outside*** the Top 20 of all U.S. business schools), what we do care about is where is the data from that they’ve reported in that summary section on the Yale page.
Is that 2014 data? Meaning, for the admissions season that just passed? The apps received for 2013-2014?
No, it can’t be. As we just mentioned, none of the schools have reported any of that yet. If you look at any class profile at any top MBA program today, the most recent data they have is Class of 2015, which entered in Fall 2013. The schools are all still finalizing their Class of 2016 student rosters and typically don’t start releasing class profile summary data until mid-summer at the earliest. HBS is the exception – aren’t they always? – and we covered their Class of 2016 profile yesterday. Yale and other schools haven’t yet given a hint of what their new classes look like.
Does that mean that on this summary page, maybe BusinessWeek is reporting the data used to calculate Yale’s position as #21? Yale came in at #21 on the rankings published in November 2012 — which means that the dataset to determine that position would have had to have been for the 2011-2012 application season. If 2012 feels like a long time ago, well, posting data from even earlier is even worse. Lots has happened since 2011. Way back then, Harvard had four essay questions, just to offer some context. The Integrated Reasoning section wasn’t even on the GMAT yet. In admissions terms, 2011 is forever ago. Talk about dated data. And talk about being not-helpful to applicants like you.
The problem is, we don’t actually know if the data is that dated. As we’ve said, BusinessWeek doesn’t tell us what year their data is from, so we had to do some sleuthing. To check this second hypothesis, that the current snapshot reflects data used in the current rankings (2011-2012), we pulled up our notes from back in November 2012, when BW first published that most recent rankings list. At that time, they were reporting the Yale average GMAT score as 720, not the 719 that we see there now. So we have to rule that theory out. Apparently BusinessWeek is displaying a different dataset on the page than was used to position Yale at slot #21 on their 2012 rankings. They certainly don’t inform us about this, though.
OK fine. So then, what year is the currently-displayed data from? If it’s not 2014, and it’s not from the November 2012 rankings, then is BusinessWeek giving us 2013 data? Meaning, for the 2012-2013 admissions season?
We had always assumed that was the case – that the dataset on BW was as current as possible, and that it reflected the most recently-available data that anyone had published.
The problem is that we then looked at the Yale website, and happened to notice that THE BUSINESSWEEK DATA DOESN’T MATCH WHAT YALE HAS.
That’s really the reason for this post. All the other issues we mentioned above are just irritants. We can deal with BW lumping together data from multiple bschool classes (GMAT score and graduate salary) into one summary section per school. That’s not a major sin, even though it’s not the most accurate way to go about it.
The problem we have is — besides the fact that we don’t even know what year this is supposed to be for — that Yale has different information available about ostensibly the same class.
|BusinessWeek Yale SOM page||Yale website|
|Average GMAT:||719||Class of 2015*: 714
Class of 2014: 717
|Average GPA:||3.36||Class of 2015*: 3.57
Class of 2014: 3.55
|Program Cost:||$120,186||Class of 2016 Y1 tuition: $60,775|
|Job Offers:||91%||Class of 2013: 91.1%|
|Average Salary:||$110,656||Class of 2013 Median Salary: $110,000|
*The Class of 2015 applied in the admissions season of 2012-2013, which is the most recent data that most schools have available at this time.
The schools post tuition and cost info year by year and don’t provide a lump sum program cost, which is actually impossible to calculate in advance since fees tend to go up every single year. If BW is stating a true two-year “program cost” then it could only be for the Class of 2014 or earlier, calculated retrospectively.
Yale stopped reporting mean salaries and recently has only been providing median; the last record we have of a mean salary from Yale was Class of 2011 at $106,157. They might still provide the mean to BW but we have no idea what year BW is reporting. Is it Class of 2013? Who knows.
Bottom line: We could not find a recent Yale SOM class with a 719 GMAT and a 3.36 GPA.
What explains the differences between these numbers?
What year, really, is BusinessWeek reporting GMAT averages and other data from?
Suffice it to say, we find this disturbing.
Gobs of Brave Supplicants rely on BusinessWeek to do their MBA application research. While the numbers we’re calling out are only marginally different from what Yale themselves is reporting, the fact that ANY numbers are off is a major concern — and the fact that we have no idea where they’re getting their data or how old the respective stats are means that the entire dataset is suspect.
If BusinessWeek’s data collection methods are so sketchy, how can we rely on them to rank the schools? Seeing these discrepancies in the data, then maybe it’s not so surprising that they placed Yale way down at slot #21 two years ago. No offense, Emory and Mendoza, but like really?!?
If you’re going to use the BusinessWeek website, then as with everything with bschool admissions: Caveat emptor.