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The Best B-Schools vs. the Recession

The top undergraduate schools are fighting back with creative ways of getting their students into a badly rattled job market

by Geoff Gloeckler
Publication: BusinessWeek

March 4, 2010

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When the Class of 2010 enrolled in college four years ago, majoring in business seemed the best route to securing a plum job at graduation. Seniors were graduating with two and three job offers, starting salaries averaged close to $50,000, and big signing bonuses and benefits packages were typical. Then came the Great Recession. Students returned from summer internships without job offers. And those lucky enough to land a position had to settle for lower salaries than they had expected.

Many 2009 graduates were still searching for work long after they stored their caps and gowns in their parents' attics. Now, as the Class of 2010 prepares to follow them into the workforce, the job market continues to deteriorate. "This year isn't going to be particularly strong," says Edwin W. Koc, director of research at the National Association of Colleges & Employers. "It may be even slightly worse than last year."

Anxiety about jobs, and students' dissatisfaction with the help they are getting from school placement offices, are reflected in Bloomberg BusinessWeek's fifth annual ranking of undergraduate business programs. Only 38% of college seniors majoring in business who responded to our survey in January reported having a job offer in hand. That compares with 46% in 2009 and 56% in 2008. Of the 27,317 student respondents, 58% voiced concern about their job searches and 38% reported they are considering alternatives, such as graduate school or the Peace Corps.

At the top of our ranking is the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. In a year when unemployment was at the forefront of student concerns, Notre Dame fared well, thanks in part to a large alumni base willing to lend a hand to young job seekers. At No. 2 University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, students lauded the intense core curriculum taught by teams of professors from different disciplines. Rounding out the top three is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, up four spots from 2009. More than 90% of Sloan students boast summer internships, and its graduates' median starting salary, $62,000, is the highest in the ranking.

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