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# Beyond the Horse Race

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CEO
Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Posts: 3281
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Kudos [?]: 467 [0], given: 0

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24 Aug 2007, 21:50
I am frequently asked by applicants to provide rankings within clusters, with the implicit hope that the applicant's favorite program will rise to the top of a given cluster. Applicants often cite various forms of evidence to convince me that some shock has changed the market, some massive shift has taken place, or that such a shift is imminent that will place their school at the top. Since I am fascinated by this subject, I am very happy to entertain most of these conversations. The sad part, at least from my perspective, is that most of this time and energy would be better spent on the improving the underlying quality of the student's application rather than trying to make increasingly narrow distinctions based on such imprecise data. Perhaps more to the point, instead of worrying about whether school A has a slightly better general reputation than school B, it would make more sense for students to concentrate on the strength of each school in the specific geographic and commerical space that interests them.

Annual rankings are based on the horse race idea- if we already know the outcome in advance there will be little need to read the rankings. Thus, we need to see movement- who will gain this year? Who will lose? This plays to one of the great fears of achievers- that all of their efforts will be squandered by tying their fortunes to the wrong brand name. To be sure, the reputations of schools do change, especially when new entrants enter the market. However, this is usually a decades long process. Further, and this is a crucial point overlooked by many commentators, often new schools are added to a given cluster rather than existing schools being relegated to lower cluster.

One of the least productive parts of the rankings dialogue is the discussion of "buzz" regarding a school. Someone hears from someone that School A is suddenly "hot" and everyone is talking about it. Conversely, School B is in the "not" category and should be shunned- "Did you hear that School B is barely Top 20 anymore?"
CEO
Joined: 15 Aug 2003
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Kudos [?]: 874 [0], given: 781

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29 Aug 2007, 02:00
Thanks Hjort. This is interesting insight.

The community seems to be attracted most to the B-School App forum. So, I moved this post to this forum. I did not ask for your permission, but I am hoping you will not mind.
Director
Joined: 03 Mar 2007
Posts: 985
Location: Hong Kong
Concentration: Finance, Economics
Schools: HKUST MBA - Class of 2014
GMAT 1: 740 Q48 V44
GPA: 3.2
WE: Consulting (Consulting)
Followers: 10

Kudos [?]: 47 [0], given: 8

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29 Aug 2007, 03:04
A very stimulating thought posted by Hjort.

Rankings are always speculative. I guess they do influence the initial perspective of any applicant, but if the homework has been done, the glitz and hype get filtered away.
Intern
Joined: 21 Aug 2006
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Kudos [?]: 5 [0], given: 0

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29 Aug 2007, 07:32
I've been a long time lurker on this board, and I must say that is quite an insightful and relevant post; given the current education climate. Kudos, Hjort! As always, your information and insights are greatly appreciated!
GMAT Club Legend
Status: Um... what do you want to know?
Joined: 04 Jun 2007
Posts: 5464
Location: SF, CA, USA
Schools: UC Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA 2010
WE 1: Social Gaming
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29 Aug 2007, 15:31
thank you Hjort again for the great insight!

While rankings are often arbitrary and shouldn't be used to evaluate a school you want to go to, then why is it that even knowledgeable people (people who can see through the rankings BS) still tell people to "always go to a UE over an E school if you get into both"?

I mean, I understand the UE brand name is THAT much better, but if someone wants to focus on underwater basketweaving, and the E school is one of the top in that field, while the UE is just ok (banking on it's general reputation), wouldn't it be better for the candidate to go to the E school over the UE?

I've just heard too many people telling me to apply to HBS "just because" or if I get into HBS and an Elite school like Haas, to go to HBS without even thinking. I know many of these people are ranking "whores" (pardon the word), but there are some knowledgeable people who still say that, which really bothers me.

Any comment on this?

Thank you!
Director
Joined: 08 Feb 2007
Posts: 610
Location: New Haven, CT
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Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 0

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29 Aug 2007, 16:49
The school does not make the man successful, however it can help. I am looking for ROI, job placement and ranking in the area of finance. I think applicants should take more into account than just the overall ranking.
GMAT Club Legend
Status: Um... what do you want to know?
Joined: 04 Jun 2007
Posts: 5464
Location: SF, CA, USA
Schools: UC Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA 2010
WE 1: Social Gaming
Followers: 72

Kudos [?]: 402 [0], given: 14

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29 Aug 2007, 17:15
i know this probably has been asked somewhere, and I remember reading it but can't find it anymore. Is there a website (BW? USN?) that has the rankings of every aspect of B-schools? I know BW has a top 5 thing... but I was thinking of a top-10 schools in tech, top-10 in entrepreneurship...

Thanks!
CEO
Joined: 17 Jul 2004
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30 Aug 2007, 01:42
kryzak, as usual, makes some very good points. I have encountered the same trouble finding good sets of rankings for individual fields like tech and general managment. BW and USN have them to some extent but they never struck me as all that rigorous.
GMAT Club Legend
Status: Um... what do you want to know?
Joined: 04 Jun 2007
Posts: 5464
Location: SF, CA, USA
Schools: UC Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA 2010
WE 1: Social Gaming
Followers: 72

Kudos [?]: 402 [0], given: 14

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30 Aug 2007, 04:54
I just wonder about schools when they say "these are our top-ranked aspects", where are they getting those rankings from? Maybe I'll ask an adcom the next time I meet one and report back!
30 Aug 2007, 04:54
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