RANKINGS ARE ‘INFLUENTIAL’…BUT ARE THEY REALLY ‘VALUABLE’ IN THE PROCESS?
When it comes to rankings, however, these two applicants were in the minority. As part of the AIGAC survey, students were also asked to name which “independent” sources of information they turn to when evaluating MBA programs.” Not surprisingly, MBA rankings dominated the list at 79%, far outpointing family, friends and work colleagues (54%), online communities and forums (54%), and news articles (37%).
The rankings trusted by applicants, however, varied widely. Among American applicants, U.S. News & World Report was the undisputed champion, cited by nearly 80% of respondents as an influence on where they applied. Poets&Quants’ rankings drew over 60% of respondents as well. Overseas, nearly 70% of applicants listed the Financial Times as an influence, with U.S. & World Report and The Economist both named by slightly more than 40% of applicants.
SOURCES USED BY APPLICANTS TO EVALUATE “REPUTATION”
Similarly, business school rankings were a key factor in choosing specific schools. Here, rankings finished second to school reputation, though just by a 55%-to-54% margin (with respondents able to choose up to five options). Another intangible — school culture — ranked third at 41%, where it was tied by a more palpable consideration: city and geographic location. From there, more practical details, such as career impact, alumni network, academic focus, and career placement, held court. Despite the pricey tags attached to most top MBA programs, tuition and scholarship availability were cited by just 15% and 14% of respondents respectively.
SCHOOL REPUTATION CONTINUES TO INFLUENCE SCHOOL CHOICE
Although MBA applicants heavily consumed rankings, they didn’t always find them particularly stirring. When ask which independent source they found “most” valuable, just 31% of respondents cited MBA rankings. Instead, they sought out a more personal touch, which included online communities and forums (40%), family friends and work peers (38%), and a hired admissions consultant (38%). Among those who used a consultant, only 21% indicated that they found rankings to be most valuable.