Despite high prices the grads carry, for most recruiters an MBA 'talks'

Are the sweet salaries of some grads souring corporations on the prestigious MBA schools? Most company recruiters will say no. When they plunk down 25 to 80 grand for a Harvard grad, expectations fit the price.

''You pay more and you expect results. There's no question of coddling,'' says George Ruderman, a consultant in executive programs at the General Electric Company, Fairfield, Conn. ''We don't put them in staff positions. We put them in line operations where their performance can be measured. If we don't get our money's worth....''

''If you're not performing, we might look at you more closely if you have, say, a Harvard MBA,'' says Gail Kelley at the Bank of Boston.

At the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, Roger Muller candidly admits he has heard some grousing: ''There are companies that say, 'MBAs are too expensive, we're not going to pay. We would rather get good undergraduates and grow our own.' '' Mr. Muller says he's heard it most from commercial banks and advertising firms in recent years. Even investment banks and manufacturers (looking for technical degrees) hire a good number of undergrads, Muller notes.

Says Charles Hickman at the American Assembly of Collegiate Business Schools: ''A number of employers are tired of the - for lack of a better word - 'arrogant' so-called prestige-school MBAs. They're going to the Big Ten schools instead, where graduates may be more 'humble,' for lack of a better description.''

But apparently the dissatisfaction hasn't kept too many employers away. All but seven of Tuck's 142 MBA graduates in 1984 had nailed down jobs by mid-June. The mean salary: $38,000.

The top schools aren't suffering, Mr. Hickman agrees. It's the relatively new business schools that have the most difficulty in placing graduates, he says.

Like a number of companies contacted, it is rare that the NCR Corporation of Dayton, Ohio, adds a new school to the list of B-schools it recruits from, says Larry McKinley, director of professional recruitment. But he notes that NCR is casting a wider net this year, because ''occasionally we hear about an outstanding discipline within a program ... in one case it was a master's in accounting.''

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