BusinessWeek: JMU Graduates and Their Employers See High ROI

From: Public Affairs

April 7, 2009

While layoffs, salary freezes and unemployment statistics dominate today's business headlines, James Madison University's College of Business is being recognized by one publication for continuing to prepare its graduates for success in the workplace.

"Few measures of a b-school's performance hit home quite like return on investment, or ROI," BusinessWeek's Lindsey Gerdes writes. "While the top-ranked private schools…get all the attention, it's the big state schools (and their lower tuition costs) that fare the best on this measure."

JMU is third on the public schools list and fourth out of all business schools in the publication's rankings, which are calculated by comparing annual tuition and required fees and median starting salaries for 2008 graduates. Read the BusinessWeek article

"Number one, you want a place that's going to help you be prepared to enter the business world. At the same time, you're concerned with what kind of costs you're going to incur," said Dr. Robert Reid, dean of the JMU College of Business. "Versus what you spend at JMU, the return is very high."

For every dollar spent on tuition, JMU graduates average $7.18 in pay. With tuition costs under $7,000 per year, JMU graduates are earning comparable salaries to their counterparts paying four to six times as much at top-tier private schools.

But affordable tuition alone doesn't translate into a high ROI, Reid said. Schools must provide a quality education that gives graduates the skills needed to contribute to successful companies.

"We do undergraduate education very well. We devote a lot of time, a lot of attention and a lot of resources to it, and I think it shows," Reid said. "Recruiters time and time again tell us, 'We really like the quality of your graduates.' Their technical skills are as good or better than you get other places, their interpersonal skills are far superior, their leadership skills are superior, and that's why companies hire our graduates."

Recruiters and COB faculty now recognize that coveted set of soft skills as the Madison Quotient. According to a recent Leadership IQ study of more than 300 U.S. companies and organizations, almost half of newly hired employees fail within 18 months, due mostly to poor interpersonal skills, inability to accept feedback and lack of motivation.

"We learn so much about working in groups," BusinessWeek quotes one JMU graduate as saying. "I used to think it was normal for group projects and presentations to be so prevalent, but after speaking with students from other schools, I realize how unique our experience is in the College of Business at JMU."

In a survey of the top recruiters and employers of JMU students, 43 percent of recruiters said turnover rates for JMU grads are lower than those from other schools. Fifty-six percent also noted JMU graduates had better overall job performance, 61 percent noted JMU grads' better team skills, 59 percent said JMU grads had better interpersonal skills, and 75 percent listed JMU as one of the top three universities from which they hire their best talent.

"Overall, the Madison Quotient means employers are going to get a better return on their investment in hiring a JMU graduate," Reid said. "Lower turnover rates mean companies spend less on recruiting, hiring and training, and the soft skills our students have help them assimilate into an organization and become productive employees more quickly."

BusinessWeek ranked JMU in the top 50 Best Undergraduate Business Schools earlier this year, citing small class sizes, dedicated faculty and a superior curriculum, including the innovative COB 300 course.

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