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Business Grads of '89

June 26, 1989|JONATHAN WEBER

It doesn't show up in the job placement trends, but if you believe what the graduates of the nation's top business schools say, they are more concerned about family, health and ethics than about having a successful career.

The University of Pittsburgh's annual survey of graduates from the top 10 business schools, including UCLA, shows that on a scale of one to five, career ranks 4.5 in importance, below having a successful marriage, and physical and mental soundness (both 4.7), and strong moral principles (4.6).

The grads also expressed a belated concern about ethics in their ranking of least admired companies: Drexel Burnham Lambert, the investment banker tied to Wall Street's inside trading scandal, headed the list. Texas Air, beset by labor troubles, and Exxon, soiled by the Alaska oil spill, also made the top five, as did old-line blue chips General Motors and General Electric.

Business schools have come under fire from some quarters for failing to prepare students for broader social and economic responsibilities. At UC Berkeley, the undergraduate business program is undergoing major changes to address these criticisms.

"We are looking at business education more broadly, bringing in other perspectives and trying to prepare our students for a future in which business understanding is crucial to many different sectors of society," said Christina Banks, director of undergraduate business programs at Berkeley.

"Technology is changing so fast that we need to change the way people think about working in organizations. And we're taking a bigger look at how business education can help the country compete. That means more focus on social sciences, educational and training issues, and questions of work expectations.

Students, Banks said, are not necessarily pleased with the new direction. "Students are demanding greater technical skills, because they think that's what will get them jobs, but we want to make sure they get a broader view, as well. And they are lagging behind in terms of benefiting from this kind of education."

Black Monday doesn't seem to have affected the job market for business graduates, and it hasn't dampened student interest in business specialties, either. According to an annual survey of first-year college students by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute, business remains the major of choice among freshman.

For the academic year just completed, 24.8% of entering freshmen said they planned to major in business, compared to 26% in 1987 and 25.4% in 1986. "The increase in interest in business has slowed, but we don't have enough data to say it has peaked," said Kenneth Greene, associate director of the institute.

The big story, he said, remains the continued growth in enthusiasm for business careers among women: 21.1% now say they will seek jobs in business, almost the same as for men.

WHERE THEY WANT TO GO Job locations preferred by graduates of top 10 business schools, in percent.

City 1989 1988 Chicago 16 16 New York City 14 14 San Francisco 13 10 Boston 7 10 Pittsburgh 5 2 Los Angeles 5 * State 1989 1988 California 23 17 Illinois 15 17 New York 15 16 Pennsylvania 9 4

* Less than 2%. Source: University of Pittsburgh survey

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