Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Darden | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61
MIT Sloan | Mr. Tech Enthusiast
GRE 325, GPA 6.61/10
Harvard | Mr. Midwest Dreamer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Foster School of Business | Ms. Diamond Dealer
GRE 308, GPA Merit
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Undergraduate GPA
GMAT 720 (Expected), GPA 2.49
Stanford GSB | Ms. Try Something New
GMAT 740, GPA 3.86
Darden | Mr. Military Missile Defense
GRE 317, GPA 3.26

When MBA Rankings Lag The Facts

The Underperformers: Thunderbird Crashes To Earth

Alas, there are always “underperformers”, whose peer assessment scores are higher than the quantitative data collected by U.S. News suggests. You’ll only find two top fifty schools here (Penn State and Illinois). But the difference between perception and performance are more pronounced here. From Babson to Fordham, you’ll find plenty of surprises:

Overall Rank  Peer Rank  School                                                    Peer Score  Performance
8831Thunderbird School of Global Management3.5-57
10150Claremont Graduate School (Drucker)3.2-51
9661Pepperdine University (Graziadio)3.0-35
7950University of Colorado (Leeds)3.2-29
9367University of Kentucky (Gatton)2.9-26
9167University of Miami2.9-24
9167University of Oregon (Lundquist)2.9-24
4726University of Illinois3.6-21
8467Bentley University (McCallum)2.9-17
4934Penn State University (Smeal)3.4-15
5641Babson University (Olin)3.3-15
7358University of South Carolina (Moore)3.1-15
9681Rensselaer Polytechnic (Lally)2.8-15
7561Auburn University3.0-14
7561Virginia Tech (Pamplin)3.0-14
7361UC-San Diego (Rady)3.0-12
7967Fordham University2.9-12
7967Syracuse University (Whitman)2.9-12
9381DePaul University (Kellstadt)2.8-12
5241Case Western University (Weatherhead)3.3-11

Source: P&Q analysis based on U.S. News & World Report 2014 Business School Rankings

Thunderbird’s inclusion is hardly shocking, as steady enrollment declines recently precipitated a partnership with for-profit Laureate Education, a move denounced by Thunderbird trustees and alumni alike. However, the continued high marks for the University of Illinois, which tumbled ten spots to 47 in the 2014 rankings, are a head-scratcher. The peer assessments of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Claremont College’s Drucker School may be lagging a year behind, as they plunged 26 and 25 places respectively in the most recent U.S. News rankings. However, one factor unites many of these schools: Poor placement. Ten of the twenty schools on this list (Thunderbird, Claremont, Colorado, Fordham, Oregon, Pepperdine, Rensselaer, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and Kentucky) also correspond to a 2012 Top 20 list from U.S. News of the business schools with the highest unemployment rates at graduation.

The inclusion of the Universities of South Carolina and Colorado on this list may also reflect U.S. News’ methodology, as these schools were two of the biggest gainers in Forbes’ most recent MBA Rankings. The selection of Peter Brews as the new dean at Darla Moore also heralds a potential uptick in the University of South Carolina’s performance.

Bottom Line

It can take years for the academic community to recognize which business programs are surging or sinking. As a result, peer assessment can often lag behind on-campus reality. It takes years to build reputation and brand – and those sentiments are a powerful force in formulating rankings. When evaluating a business school, look at its trajectory. What’s more, look behind the overall number at factors like employment rates and recruiter scores to know how schools are truly viewed.

A Quick Note

The U.S. News 2014 Business School Rankings methodology used above has a minor flaw. Although we subtracted the overall rank from peer assessment rank, the 25 percent weight of the peer assessment is still embedded in the overall rank. In other words, the peer assessment still acts as a drag (or a boost) on the overall ranking. As a result, some schools could theoretically be ranked slightly higher (or lower) if peer assessment was removed entirely.