MBA News: Wall Street Journal Rankings Analysis

Well, the Wall Street Journal rankings came out last week and thus far it seems that there are fewer attacks on its methodology and a broader willingness to let the ranking exist in the MBA community’s sub-conscious, as part of the growing body of rankings information.

What is notable about the Wall Street Journal’s methodology is that it allows Carnegie Mellon (5) to finish far ahead of HBS (14) and Stanford (19) – choices that virtually no applicant would ever make. In taking an unorthodox approach where a schools’ brand strength does not guarantee a top-ranking, the Wall Street Journal should be lauded, but then again, what is the value of a ranking if it is not at least an approximation of realities on the ground?

So, would the WSJ be more credible and helpful if Stanford and HBS were battling it out for number one? Perversely, it probably would be more valuable to most applicants and yet its value would diminish overall, because it would just be reinforcing norms. So, we find ourselves amid “the rankings paradox” – radical rankings are irrelevant and conservative rankings are “toothless”.

In truth, the WSJ rankings should be read, like all other rankings, with a grain of salt – just a simple piece of data that can help inform the applicant. With proper personal research and a profound connection to a target-school, the weight of rankings should naturally diminish. Or, is that just wishful thinking…..?

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