B-School Admission

Harvard Business School, Harvard BSchool, Admission to HBS

If your college inflates grades, you have an advantage in b-school admission. Harvard University is notorious for inflating grades (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Applying for b-school admission? There was an interesting article yesterday in “BusinessWeek” by Louis Lavelle entitled “Colleges With Lenient Grades Get Six Times as Many Grads Into B-School.” We at Ivy Coach have been saying this for years but now there’s a great new study to support our findings. A study, conducted by CivicScience, researchers at Harvard Business School as well as Berkeley’s Haas Business School, found that students gained admission to grad school at much higher rates if they came from colleges with grade inflation. Unclear on what that means? We’ll explain.

Some colleges grade more leniently than do others. Harvard University, as an example, is well known for its reputation of grade inflation. The average grades in classes at schools with grade inflation are higher than are the average grades at schools without grade inflation. You’d think that MBA admissions officers would look at average grades. You’d think they’d see if the students hailed from schools with or without grade inflation. But this study demonstrates without question that they just don’t care about grade inflation. They look at grades. And why shouldn’t they? Whether a student comes from a school with or without grade inflation does not impact the MBA program’s all-important “US News & World Report” ranking.

In fact, according to the study as reported in “BusinessWeek,” “Candidates from schools with tougher grading practices were admitted 12 percent of the time, while those from schools with looser grading practices were admitted 72 percent of the time.” That’s not exactly a close call. It’s a major difference! It’s kind of unfair, don’t you think? But how can this be fixed? The only way, in our opinion, for this practice to change is if “US News & World Report” changes its b-school ranking algorithm to factor in colleges with grade inflation. It would seem only fair. But as we’ve said many times before, there is no perfect ranking algorithm…though perhaps this should be considered before the next grad school rankings come out.


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