By Henry Zhu
The newly released 2011 edition of the Princeton Review’s college rankings for law and business schools has given the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Law School (SLS) especially good marks. The rankings report that Stanford’s business school is the hardest to get into, while Stanford Law has the best “overall classroom experience.” The GSB placed second for “career prospects” and seventh for best “campus environment.”
The Princeton Review rankings were based on surveys of 18,000 students attending 172 law schools and 19,000 students attending 300 business schools, as well as on school-reported data. The 80-question survey asked students about themselves and their career plans, as well as their school’s academics, student body and campus life.
Though Stanford earned high rankings, the Law School and GSB generally measure their merits in other ways.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on rankings,” wrote Judith Romero, a spokesperson for Stanford Law School, in an e-mail to The Daily. “What’s important is that students find the right school for them.”
Second-year law student Dan Corbett echoed Romero’s feelings about the rankings.
“Sure it’s fun, and it kind of feels good, but it doesn’t really matter to big decisions, because you don’t get enough information just from that one number,” Corbett said. “It might matter to employers when you’re talking about big differences in the ranking, but otherwise, it’s not really a big deal.”
Corbett did agree with what the numbers themselves indicated.
“The people here are friendly and supportive, and I haven’t seen any evidence to the rumors of backstabbing and getting ahead of people that occurs at law schools,” Corbett said about his classroom experience. “Here, there’s a good collaborative sense of helping each other study. There are fantastic teachers who really know the material and really care about the students and their education.”
According to Madhav Rajan, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the GSB, Stanford has the smallest business program in the world with fewer than 400 enrolled students. In comparison, the class sizes at Harvard Business School and the Wharton School are about 900 and 800, respectively. Stanford has a unique competitive advantage in attracting the very best students in that its curriculum has no fixed classes and instead matches students with the classes they want to take. This helps match the students’ interests with the faculty’s interests, Rajan said.
“The GSB is very good with innovation and pedagogy,” he said. “It encourages experimentation in terms of courses, and many courses are based directly on faculty research.”
“A lot of schools do care about the rankings, so it may just be a Stanford issue that people here don’t care as much and pay far less attention,” Rajan said.
Rajan was previously a professor at the Wharton School, where he felt rankings such as BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report were heavily scrutinized.
“We would worry instead about no longer being able to recruit the students we want to recruit,” he said. “This could happen if students think Stanford is no longer changing with the times, but that is actually where Stanford shines the most: its flexibility and innovation.”