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Rankings- how to use them

by Patricia

Every year, the US News and World Report publishes a list of the best MBA programs in the United States. The Financial Times, The Economist, Bloomberg Businessweek publish their own annual lists, as well.

According to The Economist, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is the best business school in the world, but according to Bloomberg Businessweek, Harvard University’ s Business School reigns supreme. The US News and World Report  agrees with Bloomberg Businessweek, crowning Harvard University’s Business School, as well.

Which list should you believe? Each publication uses different methodologies; furthermore, the metrics that are prioritized by each publication are also quite different. So, in essence, each publication’s rankings are in line with the methodologies that each publication chooses to use, but where does that leave you, the aspiring MBA student? Very confused.

The lists are definitely useful, but not because they rank different business schools.Their utility lies in their ability to provide information that you can use to decide where to apply.

a)   They give you an idea of the most reputable schools

If you were to compare all the lists side by side, you would notice that, except for a few exceptions, the rankings aren’t the same. You would also notice that while the ranking of schools isn’t uniform across the publications, the same schools are always ranked.

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business might be ranked 12th by Bloomberg Businessweek and 2nd by The Economist, but it is always on each of the lists. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business may be ranked 10th by The Economist and 5th by Bloomberg Businessweek, but it is always on each of the lists.

The rankings allow you to determine which business schools are considered to be quite reputable, and this piece of information can help you determine where to submit an application.

b)   They provide quick information about different schools

Most rankings are accompanied by summaries about each school, as well as contact information for different offices. You may find the average GMAT scores and GPAs of the incoming class, which can help you determine whether your own scores are competitive enough. You may also find information about the key specializations of each business school, together with information about student life. Most importantly, you may find information about the average starting salaries of the recent graduates and which sectors they seem to favor.

Armed with all this information, you can easily compare schools without having to peruse through or look for information on the schools’ websites( though it is a good idea to do this as well).

The rankings aren’t set in stone, but they are useful and can provide information that you may use to put together a list of target MBA programs.