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One of the interesting things that I have seen since re-visiting the forum is the continuing importance of the classic question of how to allocate schools to different clusters; an issue that seems particuarly salient at the Elite level. As some of you may remember, one of the goals of the cluster system was to move away from the self-imposed scarcity that seemed to hinder some applicants. By seeing that there are schools of broadly similar reputation/perceived quality, applicants would hopefully broaden their perspective to include at least those schools in a given cluster and perhaps the adjoining clusters. My assertion was not that these schools were literally interchangeable, but that they were similar in some meaningful ways. There was also an aspect of asset class assignment here, that students could in some sense construct a more nearly optimal portfolio of applicants by diversifying across clusters.
As usual, I appreciate the value of the dialogue regarding which school belongs where. Since these reputation league tables are essentially social constructs, it is useful to get a sense of the collective wisdom with respect to where a given school will be slotted. However, this is a also the risk of this degenerating into an angels on the head of a pin style question that misses the broader and grander point. It is crucial to remember that firms hire people, not resumes. In the vast majority of cases, the differences in perceived quality between two schools of similar reputation will reduce to a rounding error compared to the importance of the full set of attributes that the individual brings a prospective employer. Such crucial aspects as prior work experience, industry knowledge, personality, confidence, etc. will likely have far more impact on the outcome job candidacy than the location of a given school a certain cluster and an adjoining one.