Lessons from the Class of '92

BusinessWeek's Jennifer Merritt goes behind the numbers of our new alumni survey to find trends in this group's experiences

Our guest on Sept. 15 was Jennifer Merritt, BusinessWeek's management education editor. In a live, hour-long online chat, Merritt discussed the results of BusinessWeek's new survey of 1,500 members of the MBA class of 1992 at 30 top schools -- a survey that formed the centerpiece of the magazine's recent Cover Story (see BW, 9/22/03, "What's an MBA Really Worth?").

The survey's goal: to determine how far the 1992 grads have come since B-school and how satisfied they are, in retrospect, with their B-school education. Merritt fielded questions from BusinessWeek Online reporters Mica Schneider and Brian Hindo, plus an online audience of more than 240. Here's an edited transcript of the event:

Q: Jen, can you begin by telling us why the magazine decided to survey the MBA class of 1992?

A:

There has been much debate the past two years about the value of the MBA -- whether the degree was worthwhile. We decided that we should try to find out, so we decided to survey a class that had had some time to test-drive their skills to try to answer the question.

Q: How did BusinessWeek survey the class?

A:

We used both an online and paper survey. We asked BusinessWeek's Top 30 U.S. [full-time MBA] programs to help us contact their 1992 alums -- most did -- and sent out the surveys late in the spring of 2003.

Q: A few members of our audience have asked why some B-schools decided not to participate in the survey. Can you shed any light on that?

A:

There were a variety of reasons. Some schools simply didn't want their alums to be surveyed. Another said they felt it would not be worthwhile for the school to have their alums participate, and others felt that helping us distribute the survey was too much work. Still, we made an effort (and successfully) to contact alums from schools that declined to help out.

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