Peter Ullrich '59, assistant director of the Office for Graduate and Career Plans, yesterday disputed a Wall Street Journal article which claimed that the percentage of Harvard seniors planning business careers has dropped sharply in the past five years.
He said Harvard has no figures for the Class of '59, but maintained that the percentage of graduates entering business has risen slightly since 1959.
The front-page article, which appeared last week, said that five years ago, 39 per cent of Harvard's graduates planned a career in business, while only 14 per cent of last year's graduates intended to work in business.
"I don't know where they got those figures," Ullrich said. He cited a poll taken by his office last year showing that about 20 per cent of the senior class expected to enter a business job eventually. No similar poll has been taken previously, and I'llrich questioned the origin of the 29 per cent figure.
Ullrich conceded that many college students today are prejudiced against a corporate image. At most colleges, including Harvard, professors discourage undergraduates from planning business careers, he said. Good students are urged to become teachers or researchers, he continued.
Businesses to Blame
But, he declared businesses themselves are at fault for losing interested graduates to other fields. "Some firms recruit students for summer internships and then let them sit around without any work to do," he said. Businesses must upgrade their recruiting and intern programs if they are to attract the most qualified graduates.
Ullrich based his observations on a series of polls, conducted by his office, showing that the number of Harvard seniors planning to work immediately after graduation has increased from 14 to 18 per cent over the past five years. The number going to business school has risen from three to four per cent.
Over the same period, the percentage of seniors planning immediate graduate study has remained about constant, approximately two-thirds of each class.
Yesterday Ullrich finished computations on a poll showing that about 32 per cent of the Class of '43 and 19 per cent of the Class of '52 are now in business jobs.