Monday, January 11, 2010

Ten Reasons Why I Hate Grade Disclosure Policy

The policy of disclosing grades to prospective employers is fairly divisive. One group of schools, such as Stanford, do not allow interviewers to ask students about their grades. The other group consisting of schools such as Harvard and ISB do not stop interviewers and students from discussing their grades. Both sides have valid points. However, in this post, I will be taking a partisan approach and will be making a case for non disclosure of grades at ISB.

My top ten reasons for reversal of the grade disclosure policy at ISB are as follows:

10) Most employers outside of Consulting and Banking firms dont really care about grades.

9) Disclosure of grades leads to greater competition among the students and it hinders the promotion of teamwork. In fact, as part of my research on ISB, I called a former classmate of mine (a current ISB student) and she told me that the atmosphere at ISB is very competitive which actually made me feel sad. MBA to me should be more collaborative than competitive.

8) Students might start taking courses that they know they are comfortable with to maintain high grades. They might stop experimenting and start taking easy classes which hinders their overall growth.

7) Grades do not prove how smart or dumb you are. There is more to an MBA program than getting great grades. Getting admitted to a top MBA program proves that you were not dumb in the first place.

6) As a former ISB graduate commented during his recruitment season, "It is clearly emerging that grades and being studious do not have a great correlation with getting good jobs (except consulting jobs). Many of the interviews are personal interviews and have had minimal technical content. Given this, being good at interpersonal skills and peaking when it is required is quite critical. Sitting in the rooms to study all the time will obviously not make one develop interpersonal skills."

5) Dean's list should provide adequate motivation to the students.

4) Professors have different standards for grading people. This will probably cause some variation in grades especially during the last 4 terms.

3) Students from non-traditional backgrounds might not perform as well as their peers from traditional (read engineering) backgrounds in quantitative subjects and this might put them at a disadvantage during recruitment.

2) Grades do not predict future work performance.

1) I suck at studying and will never be getting top grades. My excuse, "I study smart, not hard", worked fine during my undergrad and masters, but will not prevail at ISB.


  1. Excellently put! Grade Non-Disclosure policies, especially at the ISB are essential because they would help develop the collaborative nature of the school - and in that respect help the school mature.

    However, Grade Non-Disclosure might result in turning off Consulting and I-Banks: sectors that ISB is trying to establish itself in a big way in.

  2. Thanks Nikolai.

    My friends at top US schools with grade non-disclosure policy tell me that IBs and Consulting firms ask the students abt their grades regardless. No one can really stop that during the interview. I doubt these companies will be upset if schools adopt non disclosure as a standard practice, they will continue to do wht they do.

  3. NM, Please note my comments
    1. to best of my knowlege recruiters compare (if any) only the grades of 1st four terms which are common to all (exception being - consulting & I-banks)
    2. as u said this is just one of the criterion to differenciate the students and not the only
    3. u ll b surprised to know that some recruiters even consider ur GMAT scores for selection
    4. not everyone is good at inter-personal skils or ECA, such students definately show case thier ability at grades
    5. ISB gives enough other oppurtunities for team work, sports, clubs, etc to work on one's resume.

    I m not advocating disclosure but I feel it has its own pros & cons

  4. I Don't think being competitive comes in the way of Team Spirit. At our present workplaces,we compete for the next promotion with our friends-colleagues,but at same time we do not forget that we work for the benefit of the same team/firm.
    Few of us thrive in a healthy competitive environment, as it brings out the best in us and pushes the person and his/her team to achieve more. In certain areas, a B-school has to reflect realities of a "competitive world". Collaboration & Team-spirit is great, but you can have only 1 CEO at the Top, who along with being a good team player was the Best!!!!

  5. Let face it- it is survival of the fittest, be it before,during or after ISB!So i guess people like u and me( i suck at studies as well!!) will just have to say "All is well" when we are asked for our grades! :D

  6. It might be true that grades have no impact on the performance of the graduate. But this is my experience from undergrad - people with not so good grades have made it to very prestigious jobs nevertheless... they did what thy liked, flunked subjects and were recruited by great firms purely because of their subject knowledge in what they were interested in. And then there were these other group of people who were recruited by big firms (primarily banking firms) based on their grades. But unfortunately, grades are the only quantifiable parameter that firms are able to look at to assess the performance of a student, extra-curriculars as well but to a lesser extent... what other parameter would you as the head of recruitment choose to look at if u were to hire students?

    Btw I was a person who concentrated more on extra-curriculars than getting grades in college. I used to cram at the last moment and lose out to the guys who were the semester bookworms. So I've thought about this stuff, and decided it's just fair that a measure of performance, is USED as a measure of performance. If that's not acceptable, ISB should change it's assessment methodology, not the firms.

  7. Wait for it people, theres time yet :D

    I am sure you will have enough time to argue over this once you guys (and gals of course) hit campus. So did our batch by the way ;)

    And nice blog. Nice to see enthu among the incoming batch.

    For those wondering, Yes, I am from the class of 2010, and YES, ISB is as hectic as they tell you! Time to start on an assignment for tomorrow :P

  8. Grad Disclosure is not ISB policy - it is YOUR policy. Problem is (as you might have already guessed) that students cannot come to an agreement - you will keep arguing ad-nauseam and the problem is companies have such a strong hand in this game that the possibility of a single defector makes everyone defect. You can read more about "Prisoner's Dilemma" on wikipedia to understand what happens in these cases :)

  9. Vivek,

    Thats exactly y ISB should make grade non-disclosure its policy. Using ur "Prisoner's Dilemma" analogy (which I had read before as part of a class on statistical decision making), i would want ISB to step in and stop me from making damning statements and stop me from waiving my miranda rights.

    A statement such as "ISB has a grade non-disclosure policy. We request you to kindly respect this policy and do not ask the candidates about their grades during the course of the interview process. We would like to assure you that the candidates have been suitably vetted and represent the cream of the business school applicants from around the world." can be included in the marketing/invitation to interview material.