4 Things to Know About MBA Rankings

The following piece was written by Linda Abraham. Linda has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is the President and Founder of Accepted.com.

Business school rankings offer important data for comparing top MBA programs. But are they the end-all and be-all of business school research? If you examine the rankings, is that enough to help you make an informed decision about the best business schools for you?

No and no. While b-school ranking sites do present helpful facts and figures, they do not present a complete picture of a program and do not provide enough data to lead you to “the one.”

The last thing you want to do is blind yourself to the limitations and shortcomings of the rankings’ flaws. This sort of oversight could lead to a time-consuming, expensive mistake: attending the wrong business school for you.

So, what are some of the limitations and shortcomings of business school rankings?

1. Rankings DON’T reflect your priorities

The rankings are far from personalized. If your priority is to be on the West Coast, then Harvard Business School certainly can’t be #1 on your list, even though most rankings will say it’s their top choice. And this doesn’t just apply to location; your priorities are unique, and there’s no way the rankings can reflect an accurate listing of the schools based on your needs.

2. Rankings DON’T present school strengths 

There are so many “gem” programs out there not ranked in the top 10 or 20 – programs that have specific strengths in a particular area that you deem important. Not only will you have a better shot at gaining acceptance and receiving financial aid at one of these schools, but you’ll also get an education that’s better tailored to you.

3. Rankings DON’T go beyond averages

There are always exceptions – extenuating circumstances that influence an admissions decision. The rankings only reflect averages; average test scores, salary stats, and other data don’t reflect the nuances of reality – the extreme highs and lows – of the students and alumni of a school.

4. Rankings DON’T escape ulterior motives 

School alumni and students (the people who fill out the surveys that turn into rankings) understand that better rankings increase the value of their degrees and give an incentive to speak highly of their programs.

In short, don’t replace self-reflection and school research with rankings when determining where you should apply or attend. The rankings provide helpful data, but you shouldn’t attribute importance and personalization that’s simply not there.

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