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# UC Berkeley's (Haas) Meteoric Rise and UCLA's plunge?

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GMAT Club Legend
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UC Berkeley's (Haas) Meteoric Rise and UCLA's plunge? [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2007, 13:40
Hi Everyone,

I've been looking at a couple rankings (US News, BW) and UC Berkeley has been going up quite a bit over the past few years, landing at #8 on both lists this year, coming from #17 or so. UCLA used to be in the top 10 or near the top 10, but lately have been in the mid-teens.

I just wanted to see if anyone had any insights on what Berkeley is doing right or what UCLA is doing wrong in recent years, since I'm possibly applying to both schools.

If this isn't the best forum to post this message, please let me know and I can post it elsewhere.

Thanks!
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Re: UC Berkeley's (Haas) Meteoric Rise and UCLA's plunge? [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2007, 13:42
Definitely post it on the "Ask Hjort" forum. If anyone can answer this question, it is probably the mysterious Hjort.

kryzak wrote:
Hi Everyone,

I've been looking at a couple rankings (US News, BW) and UC Berkeley has been going up quite a bit over the past few years, landing at #8 on both lists this year, coming from #17 or so. UCLA used to be in the top 10 or near the top 10, but lately have been in the mid-teens.

I just wanted to see if anyone had any insights on what Berkeley is doing right or what UCLA is doing wrong in recent years, since I'm possibly applying to both schools.

If this isn't the best forum to post this message, please let me know and I can post it elsewhere.

Thanks!
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Re: UC Berkeley's (Haas) Meteoric Rise and UCLA's plunge? [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2007, 14:09
kryzak wrote:
Hi Everyone,

I've been looking at a couple rankings (US News, BW) and UC Berkeley has been going up quite a bit over the past few years, landing at #8 on both lists this year, coming from #17 or so. UCLA used to be in the top 10 or near the top 10, but lately have been in the mid-teens.

I just wanted to see if anyone had any insights on what Berkeley is doing right or what UCLA is doing wrong in recent years, since I'm possibly applying to both schools.

If this isn't the best forum to post this message, please let me know and I can post it elsewhere.

Thanks!

I haven't researched both schools in depth, but I would be skeptical of any analysis which involves relying heavily on published rankings. I mean, yeah, there could be differences in between the schools, although if there are, they are likely to be minor. Additionally, any changes in prestige or other factors are likely to take decades rather than just a couple of years. I think the only conclusion we can take is that UCLA fares worse in the criteria used by those rankings than UC Berkeley.

L.
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05 Jul 2007, 14:20
I'll take a stab and say that the relative differences are related to changes in the economy. Berkeley has been the biggest beneficiary of the rise in tech companies (Stanford was already a top 2 school 10 years ago, so by comparison they didn't benefit as much).

If you think back 8-10 years, companies like Google, Ebay & Yahoo didn't exist. They are now (more or less) considered prime destinations for MBAs. Also, companies like HP, Cisco, Intel and even Apple were not necessarily considered great places for MBAs. HP, for example, always had a reputation for promoting engineers into management positions. It was how they kept their internal "geeky cool" culture, but outside managers had no future in the company. In recent years, tech companies have started bringing in lots of MBAs to fill various roles - just like other huge companies do.

Fast forward a bit and in the last 5-7 years these places (along with quite a few other tech companies) are considered prime places for top MBAs. People interested in marketing, products, general management and even finance are drawn to these companies. Business school reputations are closely tied into the types of jobs that they can delivery to their students. Berkeley has always had a tight relationship with silicon valley, and Haas MBAs have benefited the most from this shift in the economy.

On the other hand, lots of desirable MBA-type jobs have left the LA area. After BofA merged with Nationsbank, a whole bunch of good finance jobs left the area. First Insterstate, Home Savings, Croker and more have all merged and had their corporate offices relocated away from LA. Defense contractors have virtually deserted the area, taking with them tons of management jobs, as well as a whole bunch of consulting jobs. The entertainment industry is still strong of course, but job prospects are not great for MBAs. MBAs tend to not like jobs where they must start at the bottom (literally as volunteers sometimes) and work as peons for peanuts.

LA still has a lot of good businesses. Most investment banks and consulting firms to keep offices around LA; but the net difference from 10 years ago has been a decline in the number of "top MBA-type" jobs around LA.

Also, I believe that Haas has become a lot more selective in recent years; again probably related to huge increases in application volume from people who want to stay around the Bay Area. I think there are also a larger than average number of people seeking MBAs to transition from engineering roles to business roles in these tech companies. All that said, I still think Berkeley and UCLA are pretty equal in terms of their business schools.
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05 Jul 2007, 15:48
pelihu wrote:
I'll take a stab and say that the relative differences are related to changes in the economy. Berkeley has been the biggest beneficiary of the rise in tech companies (Stanford was already a top 2 school 10 years ago, so by comparison they didn't benefit as much).

If you think back 8-10 years, companies like Google, Ebay & Yahoo didn't exist. They are now (more or less) considered prime destinations for MBAs. Also, companies like HP, Cisco, Intel and even Apple were not necessarily considered great places for MBAs. HP, for example, always had a reputation for promoting engineers into management positions. It was how they kept their internal "geeky cool" culture, but outside managers had no future in the company. In recent years, tech companies have started bringing in lots of MBAs to fill various roles - just like other huge companies do.

Fast forward a bit and in the last 5-7 years these places (along with quite a few other tech companies) are considered prime places for top MBAs. People interested in marketing, products, general management and even finance are drawn to these companies. Business school reputations are closely tied into the types of jobs that they can delivery to their students. Berkeley has always had a tight relationship with silicon valley, and Haas MBAs have benefited the most from this shift in the economy.

On the other hand, lots of desirable MBA-type jobs have left the LA area. After BofA merged with Nationsbank, a whole bunch of good finance jobs left the area. First Insterstate, Home Savings, Croker and more have all merged and had their corporate offices relocated away from LA. Defense contractors have virtually deserted the area, taking with them tons of management jobs, as well as a whole bunch of consulting jobs. The entertainment industry is still strong of course, but job prospects are not great for MBAs. MBAs tend to not like jobs where they must start at the bottom (literally as volunteers sometimes) and work as peons for peanuts.

LA still has a lot of good businesses. Most investment banks and consulting firms to keep offices around LA; but the net difference from 10 years ago has been a decline in the number of "top MBA-type" jobs around LA.

Also, I believe that Haas has become a lot more selective in recent years; again probably related to huge increases in application volume from people who want to stay around the Bay Area. I think there are also a larger than average number of people seeking MBAs to transition from engineering roles to business roles in these tech companies. All that said, I still think Berkeley and UCLA are pretty equal in terms of their business schools.

Good insight.

I will also add that UCLA has always been in the shadow of UC Berkeley in terms of prestige, ranking, etc.... So given that UCB is around 8, it's not too far off for UCLA to be in the mid-teens.

Plus, I haven't seen the other rankings in other years but UCLA dropped some spots only in this year's usnews ranking.
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05 Jul 2007, 16:06
I'll weigh in, since I'm headed to Berkeley in the fall. Most of my reasons below will relate to Berkeley, as I don't know much about UCLA since I didn't apply there. (However, looking back, I wish I would have applied to UCLA instead of one of my east coast schools--I'm a west coast kind of guy).

Reasons why Berkeley has risen:

1) Small program. Berkeley and Dartmouth are the smallest schools in the top 15. Dartmouth I can understand, but Cal is a big school in a big state. I think they would easily have the demand to double the size of their program. But smaller size = naturally lower admit rate, which I'm sure helps the ranking. At the same time, I think some other b-schools (Virginia?) have expanded recently.

2) Different value system. This one is hard to quantify, but I think that Berkeley has put an emphasis on topics that have become relatively more popular in the 90s and recently. Such topics would be things like entrepreneurship, socially responsible business, and management of tech. I think these things go in cycles.

3) Great admissions team. Most of the info sessions I went to were the same, but I was really excited about Berkeley after attending their info session. The two main guys are really difference-makers. I would wager that they are responsible for increasing the number of apps, which lowers the admit rate.

4) Weather/location. I think that over the past 5-10 years, San Francisco has become a relatively more popular place than some other locations, especially places not on a coast.

5) Tech boom: everything pelihu said.

6) Catch-up with parent school. I don't really have the facts to back this up, but it seems that in the past, Haas was ranked relatively lower than the university as a whole. I think this was especially the case with Haas compared to the other grad programs (vaguely remember hearing something about how Berkeley has nearly the most top 10 grad programs--but don't quote me on that). So I think it's somewhat natural for the b-school to "catch-up" to the parent (and for this same reason I think you'll see Yale's SOM rise as well).

So those are my thoughts. While I think that Berkeley is strong (and weak) in other areas, I only tried to list the factors that would have an impact on the ranking.

Also, for the record, I think that reputation is important, but rankings are not.
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05 Jul 2007, 23:35
Thank you all for the great insight! All of the stuff pelihu and naturallight said makes sense! I personally believe regarding reputation, Cal and UCLA are probably pretty close, with each focusing on different areas of business. I'm hoping to make it into Cal next fall, where's the best place to ask about getting into a specific school? The school profile threads are pretty old (2005, 2006) and no one seems to respond to those.

Thanks again!
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06 Jul 2007, 09:56
kryzak wrote:
Where's the best place to ask about getting into a specific school? The school profile threads are pretty old (2005, 2006) and no one seems to respond to those.

As for getting into specific schools - that's a hard one to answer. The concrete factors are pretty easy: check out each school's average work experience, GMAT, GPA, etc. You can easily see how you rate. You definitely want to be in the mid-80% range. Being above the mean is dandy. Being in the top is even better.

Next, you can read the web sites and get an idea for the more touchy-feely stuff: Duke loves team. Tuck loves community. Stanford likes young odd-balls. If you match these characteristics and/or can emphasize them in your essays, that'll help.

Finally, you can talk to folks who know the school well and might be able to enlighten you on (real or perceived - it's hard to say) idiosyncracies for a given school. Maybe school X is really a GMAT whore. Maybe school Y is trying to get away from its reputation as an engineering school.

This isn't an easy answer because it's not a straight-forward situation. Formulas don't seem to apply. So much of what really matters -- good essays, leadership experience, maturity and introspection -- are hard-to-define-&-compare intangibles. We all know of admits at an ultra-elite who didn't get into an elite. Volatility reigns.

I think your best bet is to apply to a range of schools (stretches, possibles, probables) that you'd be willing to attend and that make sense for your preferences and goals. Follow best practices for applying, as discussed on this board, on the school's admissions site, and in book's such as Bodine's and Montauk's.

Good luck. It's quite the ride.

cheers
AAu
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06 Jul 2007, 10:01
Most of the top schools have ambassadors that can help you with application information. There's a list of ambassadors in a sticky thread at the top of the page.
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06 Jul 2007, 13:40
thanks for the great comments aaudetat and the link referral pelihu! I'll definitely find a campus ambassador and talk to him/her on the schools I want to go for.

The only issue I personally have is that I'm not sure if going to a B-school is more important than going to a B-school I want to go to. In my mind, I only have a few schools (Stanford, Haas, and maybe one more) I *want* to go to, and even if I get into others, if I don't go, there's no point in applying, right? I'll have to think about this a bit more.

Thanks again!
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16 Jul 2007, 08:05
I second naturallight in regards to the "catching up" to parent university. Berkeley has a tradition of academic excellence and has pretty much every department ranked in the very top. It has a great reputation and tremendous international prestige. Haas itself has the resources, ie a great campus, great professors, access to great job markets (SF financial district, silicon valley, etc). I also believe Haas has a very long history (one of the first Bschools in the nation? Def the first in a public school) so in that aspect it has an advantage over a newer school like Yale. Basically Haas is pretty much primed for success and i think the few years when it was ranked lower than 15 is more of an anomaly. Haas is definitely a top 10 school and I think we'll see it consistently ranked in top in the future.

UCLA, well it's a great school, but just like everything else about UCLA, it's always behind Berkeley. I can't think of anything about UCLA (other than maybe connections to the entertainment industry, and hotter girls??) that would make it stronger than Berkeley, and I mean no disrespect at all. Kind of like how Wharton is sometimes ranked higher than HBS, but we all know HBS is definitely better, while Wharton is still a great school. At least sometimes Wharton folks will claim to be stronger than HBS in finance, but UCLA-Andersen doesn't even have that against Haas.
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16 Jul 2007, 09:18
Well, I guess UCLA and Haas are my possibles, and Stanford is my stretch right now. Thank you for all the insights!
16 Jul 2007, 09:18
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