Undergraduate and graduate business schools admissions standards

The direction which undergraduate and graduate business schools take with respect to their admissions policies is closely related to the issues just noted. If business administration becomes an increasingly distinct area of study with certain required subjects or skills to be mastered and certain standards of performance to be fulfilled, admissions policies would have to be modified accordingly. If, above a minimum level of quality, provision is made among schools for variation in an upward direction, it is obvious that the admission policies and/or graduation requirements of some schools would necessarily be a good deal more restrictive than others. As any field of learning develops, these two issues of minimum admission or performance standards, and variations above the minimum, become crucial.

For undergraduate business schools which admit students as freshmen, admissions standards are now largely decided on a university-wide basis. Looking ahead, there seems no reason why this should be universally true. Schools of architecture or engineering which admit freshmen are generally not bound by the admissions standards applicable to other students. If business schools continue to accept students in their first year, they should be permitted to establish standards equivalent to the stronger branches of instruction, though perhaps little progress can be made in this direction until this field of study becomes more clearly defined. As matters now stand, the admission policies of four-year undergraduate business schools are largely a result of the fact that these schools are concentrated at institutions which admit all graduates of accredited high schools.

There is only a bare handful of four-year schools located at universities which carefully screen beginning students. If many students and employers look to schools which maintain high admission standards, this small group of institutions will not begin to meet the demand. As long as present admission practices persist, any school seeking to raise its standards of academic performance is subject to the very serious handicap that there is a hard core of beginning students who do not have the minimum mental equipment to handle more demanding work. In the interests of diversity and greater variety of choice alone, there is pressing need for a good many more schools with high standards of admissions; schools which are obliged to accept all high school graduates have no alternative but to screen students at the end of their sophomore or junior years more carefully.

Most of the four-year business schools are located at universities which legally or in fact are committed to accepting any graduate from an accredited high school within a given state or locality. In these schools and universities the only effective way of improving the quality of students is to screen them more intensively at the end of the freshman or sophomore year. On the contrary, in many instances the business schools were found to be a good deal more lax than most other branches of the universities visited in setting promotion standards beyond the freshman year, with the consequence that they are serving as a dumping ground for students who cannot make the grade in engineering or some branch of the liberal arts. This need not be the case, as the example of a few of the four-year schools testifies, and the time seems well past when this condition should be allowed to continue.

Schools which admit students as juniors (a few admit them as sophomores) are in a rather different position with respect to admissions promotion standards, so comparisons are hard to draw. The great majority of the schools in this category, for which admissions information could be secured, required students to have maintained a C average during their first two years of college, typically a universitywide requirement. While this requirement may or may not be very exacting in a given case, at least these schools are not in the position of the four-year schools which have to cope with huge numbers of inferior beginning students. More important still, business schools which admit students as juniors and even sophomores (the so-called "2-2-" and "1-3year" schools) have somewhat more leeway in setting entrance requirements at higher levels. Admissions standards under these programs are definitely above those for the student body as a whole; this is true at California (both Berkeley and UCLA), Emory, North Carolina, and Wisconsin among others; at four-year schools for which information could be secured, Rutgers was the only example of a business school which requires its students to maintain a somewhat higher grade average after admission than is demanded by the parent university. Other considerations aside, this means that the 2-2- and 1-3year schools are in a considerably better position to raise standards than the 4-year schools.

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