B-School Rankings—Why I Love/Hate Them – Part II
Recently, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News reported that several MBA programs are advising aspiring MBA candidates to stop considering academic rankings published by media outlets and that schools themselves stop participating. The claim is that such rankings are defined by an “overly narrow set of criteria.”
In my previous post I talked about why I love business school rankings, in light of a movement among academics to finally trash the system which they find imprecise and a distraction for today’s student. Today, I am going to talk about why I hate rankings.
1. They are biased.
Only when you look at the data do your realize that they are placing a large emphasis on things that aren’t relevant to you, like starting salary, which has more to do with where graduates live than anything else. A school that places a lot of its graduates in finance in New York City, is going to have a far higher starting salary, than a similar candidate having their first job in St Louis, so its ranking will be higher.
2. They require a lot of work to properly understand.
As noted above, there is a lot of data packed into a single ranking, so if you really want to see how a certain school performs based on criteria that is important to you, you have to go digging.
3. They are wrong.
When you are dealing with large amounts of data, one score that is off or that doesn’t reflect reality, biases the entire score both for good and for bad. The 2016 BusinessWeek ranking had Tuck rising 9 spots from #14 all the way up to #5. Tuck is a good school but come on. How is it even possible for the same school to rise 9 spots in one year? That’s a wrong call if ever there was one.
4. Their ranking is not your ranking.
When applying to business school there are going to be a number of criteria that are key to you but aren’t found in official rankings. So at that point, you have to rank schools based on what you want not what BusinessWeek wants. You are a city person, so does it really matter that Duke and UVA are ranked higher than NYU? Not for one second.
While published rankings are a great place to start when you are searching for your own business school, create your own ranking to get you going.