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UVA Darden

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UVA Darden [#permalink] New post 16 Sep 2004, 05:26
Linda-

I am very confused about UVA Darden, especially after all that I read on the different websites, message boards, etc.

I have three questions:

1) I have heard that the Darden alumni network, while very tight, has not penetrated the senior management of many top corporations. Business Week states that "students who want the big-name corner offices say the Darden community lacks connections to influential names in the national business community, perhaps because of its small alumni body."

What are your thoughts about Darden's placement into the top consulting firms, banks, and Fortune 500 companies? I know the school is working to improve this...

2) The reputation of the Darden "brand" - its ranking is all over the place, from a top-10 in Business week, to near #20 in US News to #17 in FT. Where do you rank it? A top 10? A top 20?

3) The rigor of the program. Heard that its very tough, but what I really wonder if nearly 100% case study builds a solid knowledge base as opposed to a mix of case, theory, and lecture.

Thanks Linda!
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Sep 2004, 13:15
Great questions!

I will change your order a bit.

1) Rankings
I am sure you have already been warned not to rely too much on rankings since they suffer from a number of shortcomings. Regardless, VA is clearly in the elite cluster in terms of general reputation. It has probably outranked every other elite school at least once (this does not include the ultraelite schools)

Its rank in BW has ranged from #5 to #14. Its best BW showing is better those of many other elite schools such as NYU, UCLA, Berkeley, and Yale. VA best showing tied that of Cornell and Duke. The worst ranking of Darden in BW tied Yale's best ranking. VA outranked Dartmouth in 2000 and 1996.

Recall that FT includes non-US schools in its main ranking. Note that Virginia's MBA program outranks many elite schools including Berkeley, Duke, UCLA, Michigan, and Cornell.

The Economist 2003 placed VA above UCB, NYU, Cornell, and UCLA.

2) Placements
Finance- VA appears to have placements that are consistent with its status as a school in the elite cluster. Lehman Brothers hired more students from VA than it did from Cornell, Michigan, Dartmouth, or Berkeley. Likewise, Citi hired more students from VA than from Duke, Michigan , Dartmouth, or Yale. [Note that no adjustments have been made for size of class]. Of course, NYU, another elite cluster school, had far more placements in finance.

Consulting- Again VA appears to have placements that are consistent with some other elite cluster schools but are less than spectacular. In one recent year, VA had at least as many placements as Berkeley at McKinsey, AT Kearney , and Booz Allen. However, it had far fewer placements at these firms than other elite schools such as Michigan.

Major Corporations- Once again, VA has placements that are similar to those of some other elite schools. Do you have any specific firms in mind?

Note that at least one elite school (Yale) has even fewer living alumni.

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Re: UVA Darden [#permalink] New post 19 Sep 2004, 21:43
Expert's post
jjomalls wrote:
Linda-

I am very confused about UVA Darden, especially after all that I read on the different websites, message boards, etc.

I have three questions:

1) I have heard that the Darden alumni network, while very tight, has not penetrated the senior management of many top corporations. Business Week states that "students who want the big-name corner offices say the Darden community lacks connections to influential names in the national business community, perhaps because of its small alumni body."

I don't have any information on this. You might want to ask the Darden career placement center what they have to say about this particular bit of wisdom. Also, ask them to back up their attempt to refute it.

What are your thoughts about Darden's placement into the top consulting firms, banks, and Fortune 500 companies? I know the school is working to improve this...

As far as I know its placement at consulting firms is excellent. In fact, I know of some large strat firms that prefer Darden over other schools that place higher in the rankings.

2) The reputation of the Darden "brand" - its ranking is all over the place, from a top-10 in Business week, to near #20 in US News to #17 in FT. Where do you rank it? A top 10? A top 20?

I would discount this and put much more weight on hiring in your particular area of interest. The rankings are a legitimate place to start your research. They are a lousy place to end it.

3) The rigor of the program. Heard that its very tough, but what I really wonder if nearly 100% case study builds a solid knowledge base as opposed to a mix of case, theory, and lecture.

I have heard that Darden is an extremely rigorous program so much so that it actually had a boot camp reputation a few years ago. Lot of long hours. At the same time, it has worked to ease up a little.

The jury is still out as to whether an excusively case method is better or worse than a mix of teaching methods. Clearly HBS and Darden will argue that it is preferable, and other schools will argue differently. I suspect it depends on the students. I personally would prefer a mix of methods, but you have to answer that questions yourself.


Thanks Linda!


You're welcome. Good luck!
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