The new BusinessWeek rankings of business schools are out. Thousands of future MBAs will pour over the statistically-insignificant differences between similarly ranked schools to decide which will receive their quarter million dollars.
For Vanderbilt, BusinessWeek reports that 170% of students have jobs. Given that they consider their formulaic hocus pocus proprietary, we can’t know exactly where BusinessWeek screwed up. What we do know is that BusinessWeek shouldn’t be trusted with important mathematical derivations that impact actual people’s lives.
UPDATE (19 November): BusinessWeek associate editor Louis Lavelle emailed me to tell me that the error was Vanderbilt’s, confirming my hunch in a comment below. Louis writes
It was a reporting issue from Vanderbilt. The questions in the survey ask for placement AT graduation, and AFTER graduation but within three months. In the profile those two numbers are combined for total placement within 3 months of graduation. I don’t have [Vanderbilt's] survey open, but instead of giving us the two numbers we asked for (e.g. 70% + 12% = 82%) [Vanderbilt] gave us a “three-month” number that’s cumulative.
In sum, Vanderbilt fails at reading comprehension, but BusinessWeek fails to put provided data through even the simplest validity checks. While these numbers do not enter into BW’s rankings, there is no public verification of the numbers that do.
Graduating MBA students, here’s how to get your school atop the next rankings. When asked to rank your school on a scale of 1 to 5, answer 500. That should raise your survey average a bit.
UPDATE (21 November): BusinessWeek finally corrects the page, and editor Louis Lavelle’s tweets dismiss any responsibility on their part.