Last week, US News released its annual ranking of top-American business schools and the usual suspects all lined up. We admittedly see rankings as a “catch-22”. If rankings conform to public perceptions, we question the rationale behind them, as they have no “teeth”; if rankings deviate dramatically, we tend to question their value, as they are rejected by so many out of hand.
Our feeling is that all rankings should be approached with skepticism and that “fit” (be it academic, personal or professional) is far more important. Nonetheless, we offer the U.S. News’ top 14:
1 Harvard University
1 Stanford University
3 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
4 Northwestern University (Kellogg)
4 University of Chicago
7 Dartmouth College (Tuck)
7 University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
9 Columbia University
10 New York University (Stern)
11 University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
12 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
13 Yale University
14 Cornell University (Johnson)
14 Duke University (Fuqua)
14 University of Virginia (Darden)
If one were to compare last year’s rankings and this year’s rankings, one would notice that very little has changed. Yale has gone from 13 last year to ten this year. Carnegie Mellon has entered the top-15. Cornell has exited the top fifteen. Is a ranking worth much if it is entrenched and very little changes? Rhetorically we ask, what value is there in maintaining the status quo?
So, do rankings have a purpose? Yes. Applicants should consult the rankings with some skepticism to introduce themselves to the schools and to develop some perceptions of them. Thereafter, applicants should start to perform their own research and determine which schools are most appropriate for them, based on academic/professional needs and the school’s fit with their own personalities – a recipe for a long term relationship.