Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Harvard Business School to Allow M.B.A. Students to Disclose Class Rank to Employers

Harvard_logoInteresting media reports about Harvard Business School's decision to allow M.B.A. students to disclose their class rank to potential employers:

Wall Street Journal, Grade Conflation (12/21):

Until 1998, students could discuss their grades and potential employers could ask for them. Students were graded, as they are now, on a forced curve with the top 15% to 20% getting a "1," the middle 70% a "2," the bottom 10% a "3." ... On a student vote, it was decided that grades could no longer be disclosed and companies who recruited at HBS could not ask for them. Only the Baker Scholars, the top 5% of the class, and the next 15% who received honors were permitted to advertise their achievement.

The prohibition of grade disclosure struck some as a crazy inconsistency in an institution designed to breed ultra-competitors. Battle-hardened alumni harrumphed about the alma mater going soft.... Professors also now seemed to consider grading a meaningless chore and said as much.

So a few months ago, the faculty decided grade disclosure was owed another chance...The campus promptly exploded.... In a final vote, 87% of students opposed grade disclosure, 6% were for it and 7% declared themselves indifferent. But when was leadership ever about listening to a bunch of 27-year-old grad students? The grassroots were ignored and the new rule was imposed by executive order, leaving the campus simmering with indignation both righteous and profane.

Business Week, Harvard: No More Grade Secrets; Against Much Student Opposition, B-school's New Policy Will Allow MBAs to Disclose Grades to Recruiters (12/16):

The administration says it's giving students more freedom. "Fundamentally, I believe it is inappropriate for HBS to dictate to students what they can and cannot say about their grades during the recruiting process," wrote Jay Light, Harvard Business School acting dean, in a memo to students on Dec. 15. "In making this decision, I have listened carefully to concerns voiced by current students, and sought the views of faculty, staff, former students, recruiters, and other key constituencies who also care deeply about this issue and its effect upon HBS."

HBS students are graded on a scale of one to three. They receive a one for being in the top 15% to 20% of the class, a two for being in the middle 70%, and a three for being in the bottom 10%. Fear of falling into that lower 10% is one reason why some students suggest the rule change could discourage people from signing up for classes containing difficult subject matter....

Its new policy now will more closely mirror that of some of its peer schools, including the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which give students the ultimate choice about whether to reveal their grades to recruiters.

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