Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rankings

Is it just me or do you ever get sick of the rankings? The schools to which I applied were chosen based on more than what some magazine, website or book said. I did attend an HBS information session and I wasn't impressed. At an MBA tour, I walked into a UCLA and USC chat, I left the UCLA chat halfway through. It wasn't for me. Duke was also on my radar, but in the end, didn't give me butterflies. There are a handful of programs I didn't even bother in investigate - Stern, Tepper, Notre Dame, Yale, Chicago etc... It doesn't make them bad programs, I just made a choice early on and decided they weren't for me. I don't believe that is good or bad, it just is.

What is the "best" school for one person may not be for the next. Yes, they talk about fit and as we write our thoughts into 500 word essays we chuckle to ourselves, what the heck is fit? But in the end, I believe there's more merit to the concept than many of us give credit. It's important to feel comfortable in all aspects of the school, so that you never look back with, I should have.

Because of the rankings, I do believe schools build reputations and I do believe doors are opened, however, I want to be able to open some of my own doors. Yes, an MBA from the top 5 will lift eyebrows from anyone in or out of the MBA business. That's nice, but I would hope that I'm also chosen for a position based on my own aptitude. It sounds a bit silly huh? It's like those girls obsessed with Gucci, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana etc... at the end of the day, it's just a brand. None of schools that sit in ranks 10-20 or even 20-30 think themselves as a second tier school and I'm sure none of the attendees think that way either.

I guess what I'm saying is sometimes I think we're too focused on the numbers - rankings, GMAT score, age, years of work experience etc. There are a handful of candidates that attend business school immediately after college and another handful that wait until they are 50. There are so many other factors that make more sense than who someone else thinks is the best.

4 comments:

Samantha said...

people definitely focus too much on rankings. I've never considered Darden or Duke -- probably because they're in the south and I just can't picture myself there, even though I know they're great schools. . .

gltnforpnshmnt said...

hey thanks for your comments! i am THRILLED to be admitted to and attending Ross in the fall! and you're right...the decision is easy now!

about rankings: i think they are important, but are alternatively overrated and underrated by people in every place in the mba admissions process. they are important for the schools because schools can use them to develop their brand. schools can use them to compete with one another, which in turn provides a better experience for the students.

for applicants, rankings are important because many people (like me) don't even know where to start if they think they want an mba. using the various rankings gave me an idea of the criteria i should take into consideration in my search. the rankings also are a clue into what a school emphasizes or excels in, and what sort of expectations an applicant can have of a school. for me, looking at the rankings, combined with my pretty decent gmat, gave me the inspiration to shoot for the top schools. with a different gmat, experience, background, the rankings could have also been helpful in guiding me to a different tier if that's what would have been appropriate for me.

with all of that said, when i started the process, i didn't even plan on applying to ross, basically because i wanted to escape the midwest. but...visiting, it was my best experience and definitely made the 'fit' factor obvious. it will be great for me, i have no doubt. but i didn't figure that out based on a ranking. i had to get to know the school itself.

so sometimes i get sick of it all, but what i get sick of aren't the rankings themselves, but rather the people who make far too much (generally applicants) or far too little (generally admissions people) of them. they are a useful tool, but certainly not a basis on which to make your decision.

HappyBunny said...

well... in the end it's not where you go, it's what have you done and what you can do. You, my friend, I believe will have a successful career no matter where you go. (you will do great things at Darden)

Question: Don't I suppose to send transcript directly to the school?

Bill Gray said...

Nice post JulyDream. I know where you’re coming from as I also tire of the rankings. It seems totally useless to compare business schools with completely different offerings. Take the latest US News rankings which lists Harvard and Stanford as a tie for the number one spot. These are two very different schools and the rankings have resorted to comparing them on a small number of common measures. For example, the second largest component in the US News rankings is GMAT. Since the GMAT scores drive the rankings, all of the top 15 ranked schools have an average GMAT score in the top 90th percentile. However, I’m not convinced there is any difference in the leadership ability of students scoring in the 90th percentile vs. those in the 95th percentile at the top ranked school.

My approach in selecting a school was to supplement the rankings with additional criteria. For me these criteria included learning method, class size, mix of undergraduate degrees, and city size. The results of my analysis are posted in Choosing an MBA Program - Why Darden. It seems JulyDream followed a similar approach (in concept) by attending information sessions and visiting schools to soak in these cultural elements.