Monday Morning Essay Tip: Avoid Mentioning Rankings

In your MBA application essays and admissions interviews, you should thoroughly explain your interest in each program by developing and presenting arguments that center on the school’s academic and environmental attributes (e.g., research institutes, professors, experiential learning opportunities, classes, pedagogies). However, you should definitely not refer to the school’s position in the various MBA rankings as a reason for applying. Although applicants, administrators, students, and alumni all pay attention to rankings, within a candidate’s application, the topic is entirely taboo.

Why is this? Rankings are a measure of a school’s reputation and fluctuate from year to year. By citing rankings, you indicate that you could (or would) be dissatisfied by a drop in your target program’s prestige as conveyed by such rankings—a drop that would be out of the school’s control and that, from the institution’s perspective, could ostensibly put your relationship as a future student (and later as an alumnus/alumna) at risk. Further, MBA programs want to be sure that you are attracted to their various academic offerings and that you have profound professional needs that they can satisfy. Rankings, however, are superficial, and referencing them in your application materials undermines the profundity of your research and motives.

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