August Academy's MBA Admissions Blog

The top 3 business school rankings

You’ve taken the GMAT.  You’ve done well.  In all probability, the next question on your mind would be – “Now, which schools should I apply to?  Which business school rankings should I trust?”

Choosing Business Schools – major criteria:

Different people have different criteria for selecting schools.  Some of the most important ones we’ve seen so far include:

  1. Budget,
  2. Location – do they have family in the area?
  3. Weather – yes, there are some people who are partial enough to hot or cold climes to make that a deciding factor in the b-school decision

Regardless of which one of the above matters to you, we’ve seen that people are invariably conscious about business school rankings, and with good reason.  After all, the higher ranked the program is, the more competitive it is to get in – and making it through a competitive program is viewed by prospective employers as a reflection of your correspondingly superior abilities.  This, in turn, could give you a leg up in the job market at the right time.

Which Business school ranking?

So business school rankings are important – but which ones should you follow?  And more importantly, when different rankings rank the same university differently (US News and FT Rankings are at odds with each other most of the time, for example) – which one is correct?

Is Andy Murray better than Roger Federer?

At August Academy, we take the view that rankings, while indicative of the relative levels of greatness, cannot say with precision that a school ranked Number 5 is better than a school ranked Number 6.  This would be like saying Andy Murray is a better player than Federer all the time.  Worse, given that Andy Murray as about 10,000 rankings points compared to Federer’s 5000, this is like saying Murray is twice as good as Federer is.  We know that is not true.

What we can reliably establish from the ATP rankings is that a player ranked in the top 10 is likely to win against a player in the top 50, most of the time.  And this is what we can reliably say about business schools too.  It is difficult to compare business schools that are in the same league – say the M7.  Amongst schools of the same league – the only thing that matters is which one of these is a better fit for you.  But it is possible to compare the opportunities that come out of a school ranked in the M7 and another in the top 50.  But even here, we would just say that the opportunities that arise because of the school’s competitive positioning will be different.  The quality of education is top-notch in most places.

Business school rankings – ok to establish the league, but not granular enough

To summarize – we don’t believe in the granularity of rankings, but we do believe that schools in the top 10 provide more opportunities than schools in the top 50, which in turn provide better opportunities than schools in the top 100.  And when you look at it that way – most rankings rank the same schools in similar leagues – and so will prove to be useful.

Rankings we follow at August Academy:

At August Academy, we’ve had success with the following rankings:

  1. US News for US based schools
  2. FT rankings and Economist rankings for global schools
  3. Plus our internal guide to what schools are generally considered prestigious.  NYU Stern is considered a top notch school but hasn’t been ranked highly, for example.

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