Thursday, April 08, 2004

The BW has been buzzing the last couple days because of various events related to the US News business school ranking (check out here for the full ranking and here for the specialty ranking). Duke students are up in arms because they fell from 7 to 11 (which I don't get - it's four friggin spots on a stinkin ranking). There's a Fordham student who is clearly off his or her meds screaming about Fordham's ranking (among a lot of other things). And people are all a tizzy about Harvard and Wharton's decision to stop supplying student and alumni email to Business Week for its ranking.

All the hoopla in last couple of days has got me wondering. Why do people care so much about the rankings? In my school research, I used the rankings to provide hard data (like average GMATs, GPAs, salary, etc) to see if I was within the ranges of current students. I also used the ranking as a proxy for recruitability. But you have to recognize that it's not an exact science. Who's to say that an individual would be better off at a #12 school than a #17 school? It seems silly to me to put too much weight on the rankings. The rankings are really just an approximation of the strength of schools among their stakeholders. I guess I don't get the people who use the rankings alone to decide which schools to apply to or which school to attend. The rankings shouldn't replace solid independent research.

In the postings about Harvard and Wharton, there was the following quote: "Wharton, Harvard and many other business schools are actively working with the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) to develop a service that will provide objective, comparative and audited data to prospective students, recruiters and the media. The project's primary goal is to enable individuals to examine and analyze information of interest to them personally, from which they can draw their own conclusions."

I think that sounds kind of promising. That way stakeholders can evaluate schools on measures that matter most to them. And it's more equitable. We wouldn't have to pay for "premium" information or wait to bum a copy of the latest publication. If this project takes off, I think it will be a BIG improvement on the current system.

And then maybe people will find something more meaningful to focus on...

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