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Many readers have expressed confusion regarding the Cluster Ranking System. The model stems from, well you guessed it, a cluster analysis of business schools. As with any ranking system (whether it is of NCAA football or GPA) one should use scholastic rankings with caution. Further, these rankings concern only general reputation of the school and often schools have domain specific ranks that are much stronger than their general rank.
Why use cluster analysis instead of a strict, floor to ceiling ordinal list?
Primarily because these strict ordinal lists have the danger of forcing distinctions among programs of virtually identical standing. In addition, the variables that we use to measure scholastic quality and opportunities are extremely imprecise. Thus, we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can make meaningful distinctions among schools of similar standing. However, we can make broad distinctions among schools of dissimilar standing.
Why not simply use a "top 5, top 10" list?
These lists are disfavored since they suggest that schools are highly discontinuous in their opportunity sets. For instance, the #11 school (however defined) might be mistakenly viewed as being meaninfullly inferior to the #10 school. Another reason that these lists are disfavored is that the standing of institutions rarely change as rapidly as their standings in league tables change (Yes, glaciers do move, but one should not confuse them with cheetahs).
Why not call them Tier I or Tier II etc.?
I suppose one could use these terms, but I prefer the descriptive labels. I like the way that the labels call attention to the proximity of the cluster to the elite schools. Thus, Near Elite makes it clear that these are prestigious schools if not quite on the level of the most esteemed general reputation schools.
Why do these clusters include only US schools?
This is certainly a legitimate criticism. The main reason concerns the type of information available from each school. However, one can rather easily project non-US schools onto this cluster system. For instance, INSEAD and LBS could be included in the Elite cluster.
Ultraelite- The 7 most esteemed US schools, essentially the top of the elite group.
Elite- The most selective group of school (used as both a generic term for all 16 top schools and and a specific term for the schools just below the Ultraelite)
Transelite- The schools that overlap with many of the Elite group. This handful of schools essentially "blends into" the lower edge of the Elite group.
Near Elite- Usually relatively small and highly specialized schools. Within specific domains such as finance and marketing these schools are outstanding.
Near Elite Frontier: These are nationally recognized programs that are less selective than the Near Elite schools. Many offer outstanding opportunities for budget conscious consumers.
great post. i was reading a few of your reviews and i was wondering why you classified stuff as elite, nearelite etc. providing with a definition for each term it is clearer now for many of us. i guess my quesiton would be in which categorie would you put the following schools:
UNC - Chapel Hill, UVA-Darden, Ohio State-Fisher, Boston Uni, Boston College, Northeastern Uni, UConn, University of South Carolina and Thunderbird.
Generally, I have included the typical information such as admissions, placement, league table standings in forming the clusters. As I recall, Michigan was strongly in the elite group but simply did not have the overall recruiting power of the ultraelite. Cornell is pretty typical elite school but also lacks the recruiting power of the ultraelites. It is not that Cornell and Michigan are weak so much as the Ultraelites are simply so strong.
Hey Hjort, this is a superb post. Thank you very much. By the way, I happened to have read the post on Wharton resumes and well, I guess it's normal that anyone would just feel somewhat intimidated by such CVs. However, apart from ultraelite schools, should one expect to see such CV caliber at Elite schools(INSEAD, LBS) or transelite schools ?
Your post regarding ranking is really helpful. I appreciate it.
I saw many questions on the forum like, "which school is better for particular program?"
Can you please give us ranking of the schools according to the programs?
That would also be really helpful, since some of the schools may change the clusters for some programs. Also, most of us select school depending on what program we are interested in! ...... it would be really helpful
Granular schools ranks
05 Jan 2005, 01:02