When Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business graduates its latest class on Dec. 20, its newly minted MBAs will push the number of living Kelley alumni to more than 100,000. The sheer size puts Kelley in a small group of schools with such massive networks. NYU’s Stern School has more than 100,000; Wharton alums number more than 90,000.
Is 100,000 better than, say, 95,000? Of course not, but in general, a bigger network can mean a wider net, both for schools, which rely on graduates for fundraising, and for students, who lean on alumni for career help. Prospective Kelley students ranked “alumni network” the third most important quality when choosing a school, behind rankings and career services, respectively, says Kelley Dean Idalene Kesner. (On the other hand, partisans of small schools often say their alumni networks are more tightly knit and more inclined to be helpful, because there are so few of them. It goes both ways.)
Mark McLaren, NYU Stern class of 2007, says he got into several more affordable schools but chose Stern for the contacts. And, in fact, an alum helped McLaren land his first internship while in school. “Business is all about people,” says McLaren.
With size comes scale. The Kelley school has alumni in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and 106 different countries. Although the average age of an alum is 46, the oldest one is 108 and graduated in 1929. There are a few others in their hundreds, too, including the oldest female alumna, who is 105 and graduated in 1932. Presumably she is no longer hiring interns.