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how important are rankings?

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how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 10:51
I took the GMAT and scored [570] well below my average practice exam scores. I decided I would spend this summer studying, take the exam again, and apply to schools this fall. After my initial score was released, a number of schools contacted me, asking to apply. I went ahead and applied to Case Western's Weatherhead (ranked # 52). They've accepted me and offered me a scholarship. The question is whether I should go now, or wait a year and actually apply to a wide range of schools, to potentially give me the chance to attend a higher ranked school.
On the one hand, I could spend the next year completing half of my MBA degree. On the other, I could spend it studying for the GMAT, visiting schools, and filling out endless applications. I'm 27 and sort of inclined to go now and get it over with, so I can have the degree by 29. . . but then I'll never know if I could have attended a top 25 or top 15 school. Additionally, I plan to attend law school afterwards. . .
Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you!!
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 12:58
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As someone who's been accepted to both a top 10 law school (UVA) and a top 10 b-school 2 years apart (will be attending this fall) and who considered doing a JD/MBA. Here's my take.

Your 2.7 GPA precludes you from almost any T14 law school unless you get a ridiculous LSAT score (think 174+) The LSAT is more difficult than the GMAT by a factor of 10 (IMO), so judging by your GMAT score I'd say its hghly unlikely you'll get near 174 on the lsat. As far as law school.....its ALL about prestige. If you don't have a degree from a T14 (and with top grades) you'll struggle getting a law job (or any job). Which brings us to the MBA.

If you can't get into a T14 law school (and get good grades)., you'll have to rely on your MBA to land a well paying job. But there seems to be some stigma attached to JD/MBA,...it can be interpreted as having a lack of focus. Which brings us to conclusion number 1: What will the ROI for the JD portion of your education be? It won't help you get a job but you'll pay for it. Therefore, in your case, DON'T DO A JD/MBA. If you really want to be a lawyer,..forget the MBA and concentrate on smashing the LSAT,..which will be more of a longshot than getting a 700 on the GMAT.

So the final choice is getting ONLY an MBA. This seems to be the most prudent option for you. However, I think its a good idea to study for the GMAT and retake,... with your GPA you actually still have a chance to get into a good school (Top 20). You're only 27, age is not a problem yet. I applied to B-school when I was 29 and will be matriculating at age 30.

PS...even though I got into a great law school,...I was scared off by the horror stories about the legal job market and the nature of law school. I advise you to do your due diligience regarding law school. It does not seem to be a happy experience. Whereas most people seem to enjoy their B-school years. Thats an important factor to consider.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 07:01
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sapphire07 wrote:
Thanks - I'll certainly consider this! Do you know if it's necessary to travel to the schools you're applying to? When I look at it that way, I feel I should just take what's in hand. . . versus spending a year brown nosing and traveling across the country just to visit schools so I can write in a sentence in my essays about how much I enjoyed Professor X's class.


I think you greatly misunderstand the purpose of school visits. They are not for brown nosing and to have a "sentence in your essays." There are many schools that do not care whether or not you visit (Tuck and Johnson are not those schools). The visit is for YOU to familiarize yourself with the environment you are going to be in for the next two years. I know some people say that you won't really know if you like the place until you go, but I've found that while you will sometimes leave a school visit with the impression of, "seems to cool to me. I could go here," you will also leave some schools feeling like, "there is no way in hell I can spend two years in this place." You may also wind up feeling a strong affinity to the school after visiting and a school that was once your last resort option turns into your 1st or 2nd choice. It's very difficult to get the feel of a school from just the website and a conversation or two with an alum or current student. Even info sessions don't give you the full picture.

The reason people say that visiting helps your essays is because it helps show fit. I never actually mentioned my campus visits in ANY of my essays. However, for the schools that I was able to visit prior to applying my visits helped inform the tone of my essays. My Booth essays had a totally different tone from Kellogg and Wharton essays. I truly believe I was able to capture the essence of what Booth is about without ever name dropping a student or saying I enjoyed Professor X's class (a class from Professor X would be quite enjoyable I think).

From some of your responses I get the feeling that you really aren't THAT interested in the MBA. Yes, applying is a lot more than filling in an online form, getting some recs, and writing a few essays. You seem to not put much value in any of it and just want to know if it's worth your time to go through another app process. Honestly, I would tell you to just go to Case Western, not because I think it's your best option (I think you'd have more opportunities at a higher ranked school), but because I don't think your heart is in another application season. This isn't a process that you can half ass and expect to have success. So unless you're all in, don't bother reapplying.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 14 May 2012, 08:00
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sapphire07 wrote:
imalawyer wrote:
I don't have anything to add to the talk about rankings, but, re: law school, I'd urge you to think very hard about why you actually want a JD. Sadly, this blog post http://www.itsuptoyou.net/why-you-shouldnt-go-to-law-school/ is very accurate.

You must have _solidly_ identified and well-thought-out goals before you commit to law school. Anything short of that is a guarantee of disappointment, I think.

Thank you for sharing! What's your law school/professional story and does this mean you don't enjoy being a lawyer?

The brief version is that I went to law school for the wrong reasons and without the right mindset. In retrospect most of my classmates were in the same boat. After the Bar I went into litigation, and was fortunate to be surrounded by some great people, but I realized before long that the profession wasn't for me in too many critical areas. It forced me to seriously think through some stuff that I somehow ignored before law school, which is why I say that you should be really honest with yourself when figuring out why it is that you think that you should go.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:08
sapphire07 wrote:
I took the GMAT and scored [570] well below my average practice exam scores. I decided I would spend this summer studying, take the exam again, and apply to schools this fall. After my initial score was released, a number of schools contacted me, asking to apply. I went ahead and applied to Case Western's Weatherhead (ranked # 52). They've accepted me and offered me a scholarship. The question is whether I should go now, or wait a year and actually apply to a wide range of schools, to potentially give me the chance to attend a higher ranked school.
On the one hand, I could spend the next year completing half of my MBA degree. On the other, I could spend it studying for the GMAT, visiting schools, and filling out endless applications. I'm 27 and sort of inclined to go now and get it over with, so I can have the degree by 29. . . but then I'll never know if I could have attended a top 25 or top 15 school. Additionally, I plan to attend law school afterwards. . .
Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you!!


If I were you, I'd re-take the gmat, AND take the LSAT if you havent yet, then try to get a JD/MBA. If you are sure you'll be going to law school anyway, why not bang them both out together?

heres a list of some programs that offer this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_JD/MBAs
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Harvard University
Stanford University
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Kentucky
University of Michigan
Washington University
Yale University


Case Western is a decent school stats wise, but its TINY and very regional. If your plan is to live in the cleveland area, I think its a solid choice. BUT, you only have one shot at an MBA, dont undersell yourself and settle for a school if you think you could do better.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:13
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:23
highwyre237 wrote:
sapphire07 wrote:
I took the GMAT and scored [570] well below my average practice exam scores. I decided I would spend this summer studying, take the exam again, and apply to schools this fall. After my initial score was released, a number of schools contacted me, asking to apply. I went ahead and applied to Case Western's Weatherhead (ranked # 52). They've accepted me and offered me a scholarship. The question is whether I should go now, or wait a year and actually apply to a wide range of schools, to potentially give me the chance to attend a higher ranked school.
On the one hand, I could spend the next year completing half of my MBA degree. On the other, I could spend it studying for the GMAT, visiting schools, and filling out endless applications. I'm 27 and sort of inclined to go now and get it over with, so I can have the degree by 29. . . but then I'll never know if I could have attended a top 25 or top 15 school. Additionally, I plan to attend law school afterwards. . .
Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you!!


If I were you, I'd re-take the gmat, AND take the LSAT if you havent yet, then try to get a JD/MBA. If you are sure you'll be going to law school anyway, why not bang them both out together?

heres a list of some programs that offer this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_JD/MBAs
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
Emory University
Harvard University
Stanford University
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Kentucky
University of Michigan
Washington University
Yale University


Case Western is a decent school stats wise, but its TINY and very regional. If your plan is to live in the cleveland area, I think its a solid choice. BUT, you only have one shot at an MBA, dont undersell yourself and settle for a school if you think you could do better.



Thanks for the feedback! Actually I'm not from Ohio, but the DC area. . . so no, I don't plan on settling in OH.

In terms of the joint degree, I was hoping to get good grades in my MBA program to help offset my lower undergrad GPA - that's why I wasn't planning on applying to both B-school and law school at the same time. . . however, the more I read, the more it seems law schools don't really consider graduate GPAs?
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:28
RG0105 wrote:
Some will say it's Harvard, then everyone else.
Some will say it's H/S/W, then everyone else.
Some will say it's M7, then everyone else.
Some will say it's top 10, then everyone else.
Some will say it's top 15, then everyone else.
Some will say it's top 20, then everyone else.
Some will say it's top 25, then everyone else.
Some will say it's top 30, then everyone else.
And so on...

Some will break it down by groups and tiers. Others may talk about national reputation vs. regional reputation vs. global reputation. If you ask 10 different people, you're likely to get 10 different answers.

Do rankings matter? I'd say to a certain extent that they do. Do they matter as much as most people think? Probably not. Are there benefits to going to a higher ranked school? Definitely. Will those benefits apply to you? Depends on your background and why you want an MBA.

If I were you, I'd probably take another shot at the GMAT. I'd start researching schools and visiting campuses. I'd also probably look into dual JD/MBA programs. Seeing as how you're considering Case Western, I'd probably take a strong look at Michigan.



Thanks for your response!
I was pretty sure I could reach the high 600 - 700 mark on the GMAT. During my first practice exam, I scored a 630, so I figured with the proper studying, I could work my way up. The problem is my undergrad GPA, which is just shy of a 2.7. This is why I'm not thinking about applying to law school right away, since they place a heavier emphasis on the undergrad GPA than do b-schools.
I'm not really sure what my chances would be at other b-schools. I have great and varied work experience, including a unique stint that I know none of the applicants will have had, my essays tend to be stellar, along with interviews. . . however, there's no guarantee I'll score that 700 if I take the GMAT a second time, and my undergrad GPA won't change. . .

I just don't want it to be a year from, and being in the same place: accepted only by a school around 50 and above.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:32
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:36
RG0105 wrote:
Since you're from DC, have you considered Georgetown? Solid b-school and law school, and they even offer part-time programs for both (pretty rare for law), which are generally less competitive for admission than FT programs.



Thanks, yes I have. I would love to attend Georgetown! But I really don't know where I'd stand. . . like I said I think I can reach a high 600 GMAT score, but it's yet to be done. Also, I seriously slacked off in undergrad and my GPA is just shy of 2.7. . . not sure if this makes me a strong candidate for the G-town b-school?
However, I know they place a lot of emphasis on a global perspective and community service - both of which I have a great deal of.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:42
I dont know much about law school apps, just that the process is VERY numbers based.

But, if gaining an MBA doesnt help get you into the law school of your dreams, and you want to fall back on getting a great job in the DC area, there are many school that would make that journy a bit easier.

I'd take it again, if you can even just get above the 650 mark you'd have a shot at georgetown and maryland. Over 700, who knows? I wouldnt settle during this process.

<--- I took the gmat 3 times, because I knew I could do better.

with a low undergrad GPA, its always possible to sign up for a few summer classes (especially if you werent a business undergrad) try something quant heavy, and work your ass off for an A, just prove that you can handle the curriculum.

A year from now, you may be in the same situation... BUT, if you are, atleast you wont wonder "what if?".
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:58
highwyre237 wrote:
I dont know much about law school apps, just that the process is VERY numbers based.

But, if gaining an MBA doesnt help get you into the law school of your dreams, and you want to fall back on getting a great job in the DC area, there are many school that would make that journy a bit easier.

I'd take it again, if you can even just get above the 650 mark you'd have a shot at georgetown and maryland. Over 700, who knows? I wouldnt settle during this process.

<--- I took the gmat 3 times, because I knew I could do better.

with a low undergrad GPA, its always possible to sign up for a few summer classes (especially if you werent a business undergrad) try something quant heavy, and work your ass off for an A, just prove that you can handle the curriculum.

A year from now, you may be in the same situation... BUT, if you are, atleast you wont wonder "what if?".



This is true - thank you. I feel like I'm playing roulette with my life. . .
so basically, getting an MBA in two years versus three years, won't be worth it if it means I could have attended a better ranked institution?
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 12:20
sapphire07 wrote:
In terms of the joint degree, I was hoping to get good grades in my MBA program to help offset my lower undergrad GPA - that's why I wasn't planning on applying to both B-school and law school at the same time. . . however, the more I read, the more it seems law schools don't really consider graduate GPAs?


The easy way to understand law school admissions is to know that they are driven almost entirely by the US News rankings. Since those only include undergrad GPA as a factor, the schools don't really look at grad GPA.

Business school admissions are much more focused on work experience and leadership, with grades and test scores as just a check that you can handle the workload.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 12:20
Sounds like you really want to go to law school rather than business school, but you want to use the MBA to leverage and give yourself a leg up to get into a better law school because of your GPA.

The law school admissions process appears to be more numbers driven than business schools because if you see some of the grids from LSAC's guide to law schools, certain numbers practically guarantee admission, and others do not. It is also clear that low GPA's for law school (3.3 and below) make it nearly impossible to get into Top 40 law schools, much less the coveted "T-14" tier:

Yale, Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Columbia, Chicago, UVA, Berkeley, Michigan, Penn, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, Georgetown

, unless you score close to 170 (top 3%ile on the LSAT) for the schools around the Top 40, and definitely above that for the schools I listed above. Granted, law school is having some tough times right now getting students due to the scamblogs, and the general climate around big law firms (right now, NY firm Dewey and LeBouef is basically about to go under). However, I don't anticipate seeing the standards drop that much if at all for the T-14 schools, and marginally for most of the rest of the Top 40.

With B Schools, especially full time, your numbers will earn you an interview, but after that you still have to sell yourself more.

Even LOR's may have to be different. Business school wants only professional letters. Law schools want your professors, unless you are at least five years out of college and you're about there now, so they'd accept your boss' rec too.

And with undergrad grades, well, you're farther out than most law applicants presumably so grades may not count so much, but they still will count heavily, and you aren't necessarily getting to a better school because of work experience.

If you do a JD/MBA, you are going to have to apply to both schools in order to do such a program, but what side of the degree do you want more, and if you only had to pick one degree, what would it be?

Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 12:25
sapphire07 wrote:
highwyre237 wrote:
I dont know much about law school apps, just that the process is VERY numbers based.

But, if gaining an MBA doesnt help get you into the law school of your dreams, and you want to fall back on getting a great job in the DC area, there are many school that would make that journy a bit easier.

I'd take it again, if you can even just get above the 650 mark you'd have a shot at georgetown and maryland. Over 700, who knows? I wouldnt settle during this process.

<--- I took the gmat 3 times, because I knew I could do better.

with a low undergrad GPA, its always possible to sign up for a few summer classes (especially if you werent a business undergrad) try something quant heavy, and work your ass off for an A, just prove that you can handle the curriculum.

A year from now, you may be in the same situation... BUT, if you are, atleast you wont wonder "what if?".



This is true - thank you. I feel like I'm playing roulette with my life. . .
so basically, getting an MBA in two years versus three years, won't be worth it if it means I could have attended a better ranked institution?


exactly, look at it this way, georgetown's average salary (base + bonus) coming out is 111K, Case Western is 81K. Add in the fact that you'll be returning to DC after, georgetown (or something on that level) holds a bit more clout on a resume along with a much better network.

The letters MBA dont mean as much as they used to, simply having those letters wont get you a great job BUT better ranked schools are perceived by recruiters as turning out better potential employees, so, you should have more options coming out of a higher ranked school. On top of that, outside of maybe the top ten, the majority of students who get an mba will stay within a close metro area of the program. With the non M7 or top 10s, the closer you stay to the school, the bigger your alumni network will be.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 12:30
RG0105 wrote:
Since you're from DC, have you considered Georgetown? Solid b-school and law school, and they even offer part-time programs for both (pretty rare for law), which are generally less competitive for admission than FT programs.


You are right that GULC and MSB offer part time programs, but a part time student at either GULC or Georgetown Evening MBA can't get a dual or joint degree. Also, GULC is not located in Georgetown's campus, but rather four or five blocks from the Capitol. I believe it may be possible at GW Law/GW MBA because there is a flex MBA program but if such a program were done, it's like five years long, considering that a full time JD/MBA is four years at both schools. You are also right that not many law schools offer part time programs. In addition, part time law school options are generally only available at lower ranked schools. Fortunately in DC, virtually every program does except Howard. Georgetown is the only T-14 school with a part time school, and it is due to tradition (it was founded as a part time school). GW also has a part time school and is in the Top 20. Part time programs are generally unheard of for most prestigious schools, but the numbers aren't too far off either from the full time averages though they are a little lower than the full time numbers.

There is also a big difference in class time between a part time law student and a typical evening MBA student. A GULC/GW Law/American, etc. part time student would have to go to class four days a week for three hours a day and take 10-12 credit hours a semester (fall and spring), and probably have to take a summer class. This may all be on top of a full time job. A Georgetown/GW MBA evening student typically has class two times a week for about three hours a day and takes 6 hours a semester in a cohort format. It's a lot of work either way, but part time law is essentially full time law at night and you can pretty much kiss your life goodbye during the weekdays.

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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 13:04
pze wrote:
As someone who's been accepted to both a top 10 law school (UVA) and a top 10 b-school 2 years apart (will be attending this fall) and who considered doing a JD/MBA. Here's my take.

Your 2.7 GPA precludes you from almost any T14 law school unless you get a ridiculous LSAT score (think 174+) The LSAT is more difficult than the GMAT by a factor of 10 (IMO), so judging by your GMAT score I'd say its hghly unlikely you'll get near 174 on the lsat. As far as law school.....its ALL about prestige. If you don't have a degree from a T14 (and with top grades) you'll struggle getting a law job (or any job). Which brings us to the MBA.

If you can't get into a T14 law school (and get good grades)., you'll have to rely on your MBA to land a well paying job. Which brings us to conclusion number 1: What is the ROI for the JD portion of your education? It won't help you get a job but you'll pay for it. Therefore, in your case, DON'T DO A JD/MBA. If you really want to be a lawyer,..forget the MBA and concentrate on smashing the LSAT,..which will be more of a longshot than getting a 700 on the GMAT.

So the final choice is getting ONLY an MBA. This seems to be the most prudent option for you. However, I think its a good idea to study for the GMAT and retake,... with your GPA you actually still have a chance to get into a good school (Top 20). You're only 27, age is not a problem yet. I applied to B-school when I was 29 and will be matriculating at age 30.

PS...even though I got into a great law school,...I was scared off by the horror stories about the legal job market and the nature of law school. I advise you to do your due diligience regarding law school. It does not seem to be a happy experience. Whereas most people seem to enjoy their B-school years. Thats an important factor to consider.


You basically corroborated with some of what I wrote minus actually recommending anything. But UVA Law is definitely solidly in that elite T-14 tier and I guess it says something when you're turning it down due to the legal market.

Either way, it is true that class ranking within law school, especially the first year is what determines job prospects for a student. At most schools, classes are also bell curved in such a way so that it's possible that students could do real well on their exams in and of themselves, yet end up with C's because most of the rest of the class just managed to do even better on an exam. Now that has gotta suck.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 05:15
Rankings are somewhat important because they generally reflect factors that actually matter, like employment opportunities, faculty quality, etc. That said, no ranking is a perfect reflection for any individual (or employer). You can start with the rankings, but then you need to figure out what is best for your eductaion, your career, your personal life and your finances. Depending on your goals, rankings may have little relevance. Even setting aside all the really unique factors, the idea that you can force rank schools in general is misguided. I recommend using rankings as a starting point for your research and nothing more.
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 06:07
novanative wrote:
Sounds like you really want to go to law school rather than business school, but you want to use the MBA to leverage and give yourself a leg up to get into a better law school because of your GPA.

The law school admissions process appears to be more numbers driven than business schools because if you see some of the grids from LSAC's guide to law schools, certain numbers practically guarantee admission, and others do not. It is also clear that low GPA's for law school (3.3 and below) make it nearly impossible to get into Top 40 law schools, much less the coveted "T-14" tier:

Yale, Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Columbia, Chicago, UVA, Berkeley, Michigan, Penn, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, Georgetown

, unless you score close to 170 (top 3%ile on the LSAT) for the schools around the Top 40, and definitely above that for the schools I listed above. Granted, law school is having some tough times right now getting students due to the scamblogs, and the general climate around big law firms (right now, NY firm Dewey and LeBouef is basically about to go under). However, I don't anticipate seeing the standards drop that much if at all for the T-14 schools, and marginally for most of the rest of the Top 40.

With B Schools, especially full time, your numbers will earn you an interview, but after that you still have to sell yourself more.

Even LOR's may have to be different. Business school wants only professional letters. Law schools want your professors, unless you are at least five years out of college and you're about there now, so they'd accept your boss' rec too.

And with undergrad grades, well, you're farther out than most law applicants presumably so grades may not count so much, but they still will count heavily, and you aren't necessarily getting to a better school because of work experience.

If you do a JD/MBA, you are going to have to apply to both schools in order to do such a program, but what side of the degree do you want more, and if you only had to pick one degree, what would it be?

Hope this helps. Good luck!


Thanks for the feedback!
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Re: how important are rankings? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 06:09
highwyre237 wrote:
sapphire07 wrote:
highwyre237 wrote:
I dont know much about law school apps, just that the process is VERY numbers based.

But, if gaining an MBA doesnt help get you into the law school of your dreams, and you want to fall back on getting a great job in the DC area, there are many school that would make that journy a bit easier.

I'd take it again, if you can even just get above the 650 mark you'd have a shot at georgetown and maryland. Over 700, who knows? I wouldnt settle during this process.

<--- I took the gmat 3 times, because I knew I could do better.

with a low undergrad GPA, its always possible to sign up for a few summer classes (especially if you werent a business undergrad) try something quant heavy, and work your ass off for an A, just prove that you can handle the curriculum.

A year from now, you may be in the same situation... BUT, if you are, atleast you wont wonder "what if?".



This is true - thank you. I feel like I'm playing roulette with my life. . .
so basically, getting an MBA in two years versus three years, won't be worth it if it means I could have attended a better ranked institution?


exactly, look at it this way, georgetown's average salary (base + bonus) coming out is 111K, Case Western is 81K. Add in the fact that you'll be returning to DC after, georgetown (or something on that level) holds a bit more clout on a resume along with a much better network.

The letters MBA dont mean as much as they used to, simply having those letters wont get you a great job BUT better ranked schools are perceived by recruiters as turning out better potential employees, so, you should have more options coming out of a higher ranked school. On top of that, outside of maybe the top ten, the majority of students who get an mba will stay within a close metro area of the program. With the non M7 or top 10s, the closer you stay to the school, the bigger your alumni network will be.


Thanks - I'll certainly consider this!
Do you know if it's necessary to travel to the schools you're applying to? When I look at it that way, I feel I should just take what's in hand. . . versus spending a year brown nosing and traveling across the country just to visit schools so I can write in a sentence in my essays about how much I enjoyed Professor X's class.
Re: how important are rankings?   [#permalink] 11 May 2012, 06:09
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