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How to Assign an Appropriate Role to Rankings in the MBA Admissions Process

Clear Admit co-founder Graham Richmond was recently featured in an article by Bloomberg Businessweek focusing on the role of rankings in the MBA application process. In his interview with BBW, Richmond advised prospective applicants that rankings can indeed play a valuable role in the school selection process, but that it’s a role that has its limits.

“The rankings are an initial step, but you have to go further,” Richmond told BBW. “The ranking doesn’t tell you the full story of what life is like on that campus or what a school is actually doing to place students in a particular industry,” he continued.

It was for precisely this reason that Clear Admit launched its line of School Guides, in-depth profiles of each of the top MBA programs, complete with program and curriculum specifics, admissions requirements and tips, career placement statistics and interviews with students and alumni to help reveal a given school’s culture and community. 

Rankings can provide a valuable starting point, especially if candidates use the data they contain to create a personalized list of programs that meet some of their individual criteria, Richmond told BBW. Candidates can even input the data into a spreadsheet and include the items most important from each, he offered. Richmond told BBW that he considers the Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News and Financial Times rankings the most respected in the industry.

After creating their own list of programs, applicants can then layer in information from the specialty rankings that many media outlets produce to focus specifically on how given schools measure up with regard to their particular career goals.

With this foundation, candidates are then well prepared to begin more thorough research into each program, including reviewing detailed guides to the school, visiting the campus and talking to current students, faculty and alumni.

Admissions directors and deans from several top MBA programs also contributed to the BBW article, sharing Richmond’s view that rankings should play a limited role in the overall process. 

“Use rankings to figure out where to apply,” Sara Neher, assistant dean for MBA admissions at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, told BBW. “Don’t use them to decide where to go,” she continued.

Judy D. Olian, dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, also stressed the importance of conducting significant research beyond the rankings. “The rankings should be a factor but a small factor,” she told BBW.

Whatever you do, do not discuss the rankings in your applications, Richmond stresses. Admissions committees want to see that you have done your research and really see their school as a place where you can see yourself enrolled, not that you are applying simply because the school is No. 5 on a certain publication’s annual list.

To check out Clear Admit School Guide Series, in-depth resource guides to more than 20 of the top business schools in the world, click here. For the full Bloomberg Businessweek story on rankings, click here.

Posted in: Clear Admit's MBA Ranking News, MBA News

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