At first for Alexis Unwalla, the thought of staying in-state for college seemed … lame. The Virginia native had considered attending the University of Virginia, but the world traveler who already spoke Japanese had a feeling that many high school students have: Why go to her state’s public land-grant university when she could go to another state, branch out, have new experiences?
“Originally, I was prone not to go (to Virginia) because I was a world traveler with my family,” Unwalla says. But then the practicality bug bit. Going out of state — even though she has had multiple siblings attend out-of-state Ivy League schools — would put an unnecessary financial burden on both her and her parents. Suddenly, the University of Virginia didn’t seem so lame.
“There are not a lot of universities I feel can offer a valuable education while also being a public school,” Unwalla says. But Virginia was just that.
Unwalla elected to attend the school that is only a couple hours from her parents’ home and ended up in the McIntire School of Commerce, which led her to places like China and Argentina’s wine country. It also led her to the school rated by alums, for the second year in a row, as having the best student experience in the Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business School rankings.
HIGHEST ALUMNI SCORES EVER REPORTED
Often considered the most important piece of the rankings’ three-part methodology by deans and administrators at participating schools, the student experience portion of the ranking takes up a third of the methodology and involves a wide-ranging 43-question survey of alums. Each year, we survey alums that have graduated two years prior to the ranking being published. This year’s population was the Class of 2016 (graduating between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016). We calculate the category by giving an 80% weight on the average score of 16 one-to-ten-scaled questions, 10% to the average of two yes or no questions, and another 10% to two different yes or no questions. (See 2018 Report Card: How Alumni Grade Their Undergraduate Business Programs)
The main change we made this year compared to previous years is weighting this year’s results 75% and last year’s results 25%. For example, this year Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business scored a 9.53 average (out of a high of 10 points) across the 16 scaled questions. Last year, it earned 9.31, so a 75-25 weighted calculation gave the school a score of 9.48 across both years, still good enough to win the category and score 80 out of the total 100 points in the student experience portion of the methodology. Boston College scored 9.39 and Virginia followed with 3.38. Virginia ended up edging Notre Dame out of the category by scoring higher in the remaining 20 points available. Combining both years, the responses of more than 11,000 alumni were used to calculate this year’s ranking.