In their essays and interviews, business school candidates should thoroughly explain their interest in a specific 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)—candidates should definitely not identify the school’s position in the rankings as a reason for applying. Although applicants, administrators, students and alumni all pay tremendous attention to rankings, within a candidate’s application, the topic is entirely taboo.
Why? Rankings are a measure of a school’s reputation and tend to fluctuate from year to year. By citing rankings, you indicate that you could (or would) be dissatisfied by a drop in your target school’s prestige, as conveyed by such rankings—a drop that would be out of the school’s control and that, from the school’s perspective, could ostensibly put your relationship as a future student (and later as an alumnus/alumna) at risk. Further, schools 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.