Why does IU Kelley get so much hate despite being a top ranked school?

Excuse this shameless defense, but just some thoughts - IU Kelley seems to get fairly strong support here from users on WSO, however I feel like I still semi-regularly see people say that it is a "joke school". That seems to be the most common descriptor, but I'm not sure why that is when considering it consistently ranks in the top 10-20 Business schools in the US. Their W-street placement for a big 10 is school is strong, and placement into high-tier consulting firms (Big 4, Accenture, etc) is even greater. I'm pretty new here but have been lurking for a while now and think that these facts about Kelley are often overlooked. IU itself is actually a world-renown University and attracts A TON of foreign wealth, particularly Chinese billionaires that send their kids to Kelley or to IU's other top-ranked programs. As a result, Bloomington is quite the global city and a hub for research. Not to mention the fact that IU has several selective exchange programmes with universities such as LSE, Oxford, and Sciences Po.

I know I am just bitching, but like I said - I think most users give the school credit, but there are still a healthy amount of users who say this shit, which I assume to be yuppies at LACs in the NE. I think that perhaps the only thing that IU Kelley has going against it is the fact it is in Indiana. Clearly almost all of of the "Target-schools" are located in the NE and naturally have a significant regional advantage to W-street over other schools. Just because it's not a "target" school for W-street does not mean its a joke school. IU Kelley is a top-ranked B-school and has a ton going on, especially in tech and analytics. I know that the focus here is mostly on I-Banking, but still. I can say that these programs placement in Consulting and Tech giants (Google, Facebook, Salesforce) are insane with the majority of graduates going into these companies.

Conclusion - the notion that IU is a "joke school" is a joke.

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Comments (51)

Jul 25, 2019 - 1:30pm

Why is it mislabeled as a joke school? Because the non-Kelley part of IU has very low admissions standards, and it shares the same brand.

Otherwise, aside from the high salt content of your post, I mostly agree. But:


Bloomington is quite the global city

Come on.

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Jul 25, 2019 - 2:10pm

This is spot on.

To add, compare UNC - KF and IU - Kelly. Both programs are pretty good and will consistently place students on the street. However, if you look beyond the business schools, UNC more or less retains the "prestige" factor while Indiana does not. You can see this by just looking at the general admissions rates for the two schools. And so, as @HighlyClevered said, the overall brand is dragged down some.

You shouldn't really care about the relative prestige. Look at employment stats and alumni network, that will tell you what you need to know. The rest is noise.


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Jul 25, 2019 - 5:36pm

Kelley Average SAT: 1440
IU Average SAT: 1250

KF Average SAT: 1370
UNC Average SAT: 1350

UNC is a great all-around school. No matter the quality of Kelley, the rest of IU (non-Jacobs) is just a regular enormous non-selective state school that carries no prestige.

Jul 25, 2019 - 2:25pm

From the perspective of a Brit:

1) I couldn't name any US business schools outside the top five or so

2) I wouldn't call Accenture a high-tier consulting firm

3) I don't really recognise the name of IU

4) What's a Bloomington? Sounds like a lovely sandwich

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes" - Oscar Wilde
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Jul 25, 2019 - 4:17pm

This is just my opinion, but I think the simple answer is that your success factor to getting a Wall Street job is heavily influenced by your network and who you know. The Ivy League schools on the coasts have a head start on Kelley by generations in getting their alumni to the top of Wall Street firms. Geographic proximity helps too. IU is working very hard to improve its network and as it grows, so will the school's reputation.

However, I think Indiana is also viewed dismissively by a lot of people who grew up on the east coast as well. Many people out there hardly acknowledge that the Midwest even exists and consider it "fly over country". They think of the center of the country as being full of corn, hills, and rednecks. And also there's a perception that Midwesterners are too friendly and not intense enough to handle the competitive culture on the east coast.

Jul 26, 2019 - 4:28am

Kelley is a competitive program but IU when compared to other highly regarded public universities with good business schools fall short. This is not just some kind of bias but admissions stats actually back it up:

  • Indiana: Percent Admitted: 77%, Yield: 24%
  • Michigan: Percent Admitted: 24%, Yield: 43%
  • UNC: Percent Admitted: 22%, Yield: 45%
  • Texas: Percent Admitted: 38%, Yield: 46%
  • UVA: Percent Admitted: 26%, Yield: 39%
  • UC Berkeley: Percent Admitted: 15%, Yield: 44%

As a result, the general perception is that IU (and by extension Kelley) is super easy to get into and the vast majority who do get in choose to go elsewhere.

Jul 26, 2019 - 1:02pm

Yeah, I would agree that IU's ridicuosuly high admission rate negatively impacts its "prestige" factor. Although, I am not sure if I can agree that the "vast" majority choose to go elsewhere. There are lots of people at IU, some friends and acquaintances of mine, that got into much higher-ranked schools (Notre dame, Georgetown, Ivies) but chose to go IU and/or Kelley bc of $$. More often than not, the top students in Indiana, particularly in business, are choosing to go to Kelley over high-ranked OOS colleges because they can receive a top education while not going 100k+ in debt.

And herein lies what I think is regularly disregarded here - the money factor. In the US, the top schools by a clear majority are going to be populated with students coming from wealthy or upper-middle class families, which is why they can justify paying exuberantly high tuition costs. I think its the above-average flagships that lots of very bright students are flocking to because the cost/benefit factor usually works out, especially for in-state Kelley students.

With all of that said, I sincerely believe IU would benefit from a lower admission rate, and I fail to understand why it is so high compared to the other Big Tens.

Jul 26, 2019 - 2:05pm

True, a lot of the kids from Kelley who get into IB and consulting were probably kids who got into ivy level schools but it wasn't worth paying an extra $100k - 250k.


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Jul 30, 2019 - 9:37am

Okay, well if you want an anecdotal view from someone who was one of the people who was admitted into both IU Kelley on scholarships and other "higher-ranked" schools and chose to go to one of the elsewhere schools, it basically came down to an input output calculation.

Yes IU gave me a lot of money, but surprise - I got scholarships from the other schools as well! The reality is the smaller program size + larger endowments of the other "prestigious" schools allowed them to give me enough money to the point where the cost difference was negligible relative to the better career outcomes, or in some cases, I saved MORE money than I would have paid in IU.

I have great respect for IU, but it seems like you're wrongly upset other people think less of it relative to other schools. That shouldn't matter because once you start your first job, you'll primarily be known as "AquaticPuntas from McKinsey (assuming from your handle you want to do consulting)", not "AquaticPuntas from IU".

Jul 26, 2019 - 11:28am

TL/DR: I am certain there are some people at Kelley who would kill it in IB/PE , its just the inferiority complex that gets me

I think part the bad wrap is based on the fact that everyone I ever knew who went/goes to IU started off the conversation with "Mike Jones, Kelley School of Business" and are SO incessantly motivated to prove the worth of their school, constantly sharing stuff on linkedin and facebook about being a "top 5 (or whatever) undergraduate business school" Like come on, most of the top schools in the US don't even HAVE an undergrad business school... Even still, Ivy and ivy equiv (obviously) place significantly better on the street. I feel like Kelley pumps out more FAs and accountants to the big 4, but then again not many people from top schools would even think about that route given the lack of "prestige"

"I'm talented in a bunch of different areas" -Kevin Durant
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Jul 26, 2019 - 2:01pm

I think a lot of Kelley kids are forced to brag about their program and its ranking because

a) Indiana does not have any prestige

b) Wall St is obsessed with hiring from prestigious schools


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Jul 27, 2019 - 2:03am

I think a lot of Kelley kids are forced to brag about their program and its ranking because

a) Indiana does not have any prestige

b) Wall St is obsessed with hiring from prestigious schools

So I was in charge of UIUC recruiting in IB at Citi as a 3rd year analyst (my alma mater), HR wanted to stop recruiting there because "it cost too much." I asked them to run an analysis of average bonus ranking per university, and this was in the days of 5 bonus buckets.

It turns out that UIUC at the time was second to Wharton for top performing analysts, sorry Brownies, you were last.

Citi kept recruiting there because of that data, but it sounds like UIUC has fallen off the map in the past 20 years so not sure what happened.

All that said, the general analysis showed that top public schools analysts produced at a level that was unexpected relative to the Ivy League with the major exception of Wharton crushing everyone else, and it wasn't close.

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Jul 27, 2019 - 1:25am

I'm divided. I want to tell you not to care what most of the wannabe blue bloods on this site think.

At the same time, fuck, keep GMAT Club at GMAT club. It's a good school. Let's not have this discussion where people start whipping out SAT scores. Sheesh.

Jul 27, 2019 - 1:50am

Disagree - West Lafayette is much more "global" that Bloomington. Business schools aside, Purdue is a much better school.

Purdue has such a worse campus though...

First hand knowledge on this one - grew up in central IL, my sister ran track at Purdue and I declined a full ride at IU. I have been to both campuses many times, and I would choose IU 10/10 times.

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Jul 27, 2019 - 9:36am

I've worked with a few IU grads and I liked working with them a lot.

IU is a one on the binary scale.

Rise and grind
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Jul 27, 2019 - 10:17am

Give me a personable, top student at almost any of the Big Ten schools over an Ivy kid any day. Dollars to donuts, the Big Ten kid will be able to connect easier with his peers/bosses/clients and will have far more drive than your blue blood East coaster.

you didn't make good choices; you had good choices

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Jul 27, 2019 - 12:28pm

Look if you're smart and personable you'll get a job on Wall Street from Kelley. However, the Kelley community definitely has an inflated opinion of the brand and graduates' capabilities.

If you're one of the top 15 of 2,000 total kids per class, I'm sure you're an absolute stud who was admitted but chose not to attend an IVY/Stanford/MIT/Duke/Northwestern/ND caliber school. Probably because of IU's godly full-ride scholarships. I'd say maybe ~2 or 3 of these kids are lucky enough to walk the gilded path: McKinsey/BCG/BB or EB IBanking ---> KKR/Carlyle/TPG ---> Tiger cub HF ---> HBS / Stanford Biz ---> partner in PE / PM in HF --> governor and ultimately failed U.S. presidential candidate. So ~0.15% of each class ends up being a master of the universe. I don't have the hard data in front of me but would wager this proportion is significantly higher at a Wharton/Harvard/Dartmouth – and probably even at a Michigan Ross or Notre Dame (which btw has the most overrated football program in the history of sports).

The rest of the Kelley top 5% (call it ~100 kids) probably get jobs at MM IB or tier-2 strategy shops like Blair / Lincoln International / Deloitte S&O / LEK, and maybe a fraction of that make it into LMM or MM PE or attend a Top-15 MBA programs. The bulk of Kelly grads (call it the meaty part of the bell curve) probably go into big 4 audit / F500 FP&A / boutique strategy or tech consulting. In the scheme of things these are also all great places to begin one's career, but the elitist pricks on this forum would probably consider it utter failure and account for all the "shitting" on Kelley that you might come across.

Jul 28, 2019 - 12:40pm

Well since you threw the shot at ND and the rest of this thread is meh, how do you define overrated? Like not good in a long time? Check. But unlike the southern schools we have a rightful claim to any NC banner we hang.

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Jul 28, 2019 - 1:43pm

I get they have a storied franchise and all that, but ultimately overrated given no national championship victory since the 80s.

Consistently higher pre-season rankings than they ultimately end up at (or when they do manage to maintain ranking, end up getting destroyed by 4 touchdowns or more in big bowl games re: 2012 BCS championship vs Alabama, last years 3-30 loss to Clemson, etc.)

Hats off to the athletic director for negotiating probably the best TV rights in the NCAA. But having the most fanatical and obnoxious fan base in the nation probably helps a lot.

I will concede that ND has a decent strength of schedule based on average opponent ranking. But I personally think its more impressive for Alabama to notch wins over Georgia (twice in a year) and LSU while destroying ten other shitty teams than it is for ND to string together a series of victories over the likes of decent, mid-major schools (but far from contenders) like USC, Navy, Boston College, etc. (even wins over teams like Michigan ultimately look less impressive when they go on to also get embarrassed in their respective bowl games).

I guess what I'm saying is maybe schedule at least one game a year against a powerhouse like Bama or Georgia, and if you stay within two touchdowns while playing a decent game from a yardage gained and # first downs perspective you'd earn a whole lot more respect from the rest of the country. Actually, now that I take a look at the 2019 schedule it seems they actually have scheduled Georgia, so I commend them on doing that at least and would say it should be a pretty good litmus test of whether ND ultimately deserves to be included in the playoffs at year-end.

Jul 28, 2019 - 4:45am

Kelley's a hidden gem among top-tier undergrad business schools. Very strong IB placement (~70 kids per year) and a big, and helpful, network.

It does get shit on a lot on WSO, but WSO maximizes on prestige at all costs. IU (non-Kelley) isn't the most prestigious school, as evidenced by its lax admission standards. That said, I laugh when I see someone on here telling someone to go to OSU or Fordham "hands down" over Kelley.

Jul 31, 2019 - 11:32am

These kinds of posts are why we can't have nice things. In case you haven't realized, this post makes IU look worse. This is a blog.

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Jul 31, 2019 - 12:56pm

That seems to be the most common descriptor, but I'm not sure why that is when considering it consistently ranks in the top 10-20 Business schools in the US. placement into high-tier consulting firms (Big 4, Accenture, etc) is even greater. particularly Chinese billionaires that send their kids to Kelley or to IU's other top-ranked programs. As a result, Bloomington is quite the global city and a hub for research.
Conclusion - the notion that IU is a "joke school" is a joke.


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Aug 5, 2019 - 10:42pm

You're in the same scenario with kids who go to a school like Smeal. In all honestly the school is fine, you could be much worse off somewhere else. With that being said though, kids from schools like Kelly and Smeal tend to go on these frequent, unprovoked, defensive rants, boasting about many of the things you mentioned above and in my opinion it just further dilutes the school's brand.

Aug 6, 2019 - 2:40am

I hope you understand that just because "Chinese Billionaires" go to IU doesn't make it a good school. People outside America have little to no understanding of the geography of this country and how large it can be. People will literally go anywhere without properly understanding the implications of it. In addition, rich international kids will pretty much go anywhere, you'll see them at every single school whether or not they're a state school.

The bottom line to me is, it's Indiana. How many people want to spend some of the best years of their life in Indiana? Not me.

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