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But the school placed third in an alternate national ranking. For the third time in a row, Business Week has named the Wharton School's graduate division the best "B-School" in the nation in rankings released last week. U.S. News & World Report, however, this summer ranked Wharton No. 3. The reason for the difference is due to the magazines' different methodology in calculating the ranks. Business Week uses what is called a "customer satisfaction survey," said Management Editor Jennifer Reingold, who is in charge of the business-school ranking project. "We base [the ranking] on the opinions of the students who pay tens of thousands of dollars on these schools and the recruiters, who have to live with the talent," she explained. Rather than rely primarily on statistics, Business Week mailed surveys to 9,598 students, of which 6,020 responded. According to Reingold, a 1989 College graduate, that "is an excellent response, considering it's direct mail." U.S. News' Bob Morse, director of research for "America's Best Grad Schools," said his publication's methodology resembles Business Week's in that they both survey corporate recruiters and business school academics. But U.S. News also uses statistics, like GMAT scores and grade-point averages, provided by the business schools themselves. Also unlike Business Week, which publishes its results every other year, U.S. News ranks graduate schools of all fields annually. Wharton tied with Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the No. 3 spot in U.S. News' 1998 business school rankings. Wharton has yet to be selected as the best business school on U.S. News' list. Harvard and Stanford's schools tied for first place. But Wharton officials say that that ranking, combined with No. 1 slots in other publications, is quite impressive. "It is still quite robust that we've always placed within the top three on U.S. News' list," Wharton Graduate Dean Bruce Allen said. Allen also pointed out that Wharton is also ranked No. 1 in the Financial Times. But how accurate are such surveys? In the past year, many higher education officials, most notably a large number of the deans of major law schools, have publicly protested such rankings. Reingold said she has confidence in her magazine's ranking because "we collect more data than any other magazine or ranking source." Morse said he believes that both U.S. News' and Business Week's approaches to ranking are "credible," but added that both "have their pros and cons and none is more accurate than the other." Allen, on the other hand, said that although the Business Week ranking "has a very positive impact on Wharton's school spirit, applications, alumni and faculty," he admitted that these rankings "have their problems." In particular, Allen disputed Business Week's No. 9 ranking of Stanford's business school, which was tops in U.S. News. Nevertheless, Wharton students "are very excited to be No. 1 for three straight times," said Wharton Graduate Association President Cesar Conde, a second-year MBA student. So why does Wharton win "all around," according to Reingold? "Recruiters feel that the students are competent, smart, able to get right to work on a project and not arrogant," she said. "And the students believe that the academic environment is challenging, but they still have influence over it." Wharton students celebrated the Business Week ranking at the WGA-sponsored MBA Pub, which takes place at Vance Hall every Thursday. On October 8, MBA students gathered around a big-screen TV hooked up to America Online watching Business Week release the list, counting down from No. 25. "It was like a countdown, and we felt like we won some kind of national sports championship," Conde said.

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