Thursday, November 10, 2005

The blight spreads 
It seems the great grade disclosure debate is now moving to HBS.  For an excellent summary of what has happened thus far see this article from the Harbus.  Here’s my response to the administration’s reasoning:
  1. Recruiters want to know grades – Personally, I really don’t think this is true.  Recruiters know that when they come to HBS they are getting someone with the required mental horsepower to get the job done.  If not disclosing grades actually changes recruiter behavior then why are interviews run exactly the same at HBS as they are everywhere else?  In the end, recruiters who come to HBS want to select the ideal few students for their firm, and that generally means the students who are really interested in the opportunity and have the skills and experience necessary.  Grades have nothing to do with that selection process.

  2. Career Changing Students want to reveal grades – As a career changer, I think this is complete BS.  I really don’t want to disclose grades because I want the freedom to try new subjects, take risks at school, and focus on recruiting even when that may cost me in the classroom.

  3. Disclosing grades will raise the level of effort in the classroom – I actually agree with the administration that this will happen, but I don’t think the associated benefits of disclosure will outweigh the costs.  First of all, only students who don’t come in with offers to return to their old firm will care at all about grades, so the full student population will not be affected.  Aside from that, the downside of increased focus on schoolwork means less effort on social events, recruiting, clubs, organizing events (both Treks and Symposiums), etc.  In other words, the richness of the HBS experience will be diminished.  Furthermore, disclosing grades discourages cooperative behavior and a relatively uncompetitive atmosphere.  I fear that disclosing grades will cause a return to the kind of cutthroat behavior that matches a reputation HBS has worked very hard to shed.

I know the likely responses to my arguments, primarily that schools with disclosure still have social and school events and so forth.  However, I feel that the mandatory attendance policy combined with 1st year honors and Baker Scholar accomplishes all the disclosure that is necessary.  Stay tuned for more information, I’ll be tracking this issue closely at HBS, as I feel passionately that disclosing grades (even under an “optional” disclosure model) will be bad for the school.

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