Third-Tier B-Schools Don’t Like Rankings Placing Them In The Third Tier

And they need the first-tier schools’ help to stop it.
Wharton: Strangely silent on the whole matter. By WestCoastivieS (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wharton: Strangely silent on the whole matter. By WestCoastivieS (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, business-school rankings: There’s little we like better here at Dealbreaker. We like them so much we even came up with one of our own. There’s nothing quite like the sniping, caviling, carping, whining, mocking and deep, unshakeable senses of inadequacy that come with each new iteration, be it U.S. News’ ordering of your personal worth in March or BusinessWeek’s competing and yet remarkably similar valuation of the top line of your resume at the weather starts to chill. The league tables may get you down, but you can always move up that ladder by getting a new job. Your M.B.A. from Northern Arizona University? That’s going with you to your grave.

The triumphalism and hang-wringing that accompanies each rankings’ release is, of course, ridiculous, since everyone knows they are bullshit. (Except ours, obviously.) But they still hurt our feelings. At the moment, they hurt the feelings of the b-school deans at USC, UNC, Ohio State and the University of Iowa, who have crunched the numbers to prove that their schools aren’t as bad as U.S. News says.

Co-author of the research paper Elliot Bendoly, an associate dean at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, disagrees. “If the goal is to help inform [students] about how to make the best decision about business schools, let’s give them the raw information, and not take numbers—which may or may not be relevant to the student—and bungle them together into a ranked list,” Mr. Bendoly says.

Surveys that favor schools with the highest-earning alumni, for example, might ignore the program’s tendency to place students in high cost-of-living locations such as New York City, or industries such as finance, which don’t match all applicants’ career goals, he said.

Seriously: What kind of an asshole goes to business school just to make money? What about the actuary who’s happy with his lot in life working at a Midwestern insurer, or the CPA with her shingle out in the real America, diligently doing her neighbors' taxes? Why should they be made to feel inadequate because they went to Eastern Washington County College’s School of Finance and Animal Husbandry at night?

Here’s the problem, though: No one cares what the associate dean of the Fisher College of Business says. Hell, Fisher even tried to opt out of the whole game last year and was ignored—in that the rankers just found some other way to get the school’s information, or made it up, and ranked it anyway. No, the only way through is if the leaders of Wharton, HBS, Tuck, Booth, Fuqua, Kellogg, Darden and Stanford get together to put a stop to all of this great free publicity they get a few times a year.

Rather than “acquiesce to methods of comparison we know to be fundamentally misleading,” the administrators are urging their peers at other schools to stop participating in a process they say rates programs on an overly narrow set of criteria.

Business Schools Take a Stand Against Academic Rankings [WSJ]


Real World, B-School: The Casting Special

Today we introduce you to the all-stars of my MBA program and yours. We seek only the top tier of characters that can singularly steal the show (and maybe $1.2 billion dollars in segregated customer funds on the side). The Questions Guy

 - The guy that everyone loves to hate. In any setting -- be it the classroom, company-sponsored information session, or networking circle -- The Questions Guy always has something to say. And while it technically always ends with a question mark, we understand the sentence to have the primary purpose of demonstrating some deeper knowledge of the material at hand. Sometimes these “questions” are insightful; however most times, we blame him for wasting classroom time, stealing our thunder, or dumbing everyone down with his trifling. We envy the fact that he’s clearly getting his money’s worth of his tuition … and ours. The Open Mouth Learner - Formerly some kind of nonprofit hero, the Open Mouth Learner’s jaw dropped with his first exposure to supply/demand curves, and he has remained captivated ever since. He brings up his non-traditional background at every opportunity, even if totally irrelevant to the conversation at hand. Professionally, he drops the phrase “non-traditional background” assertively in introductions, in order to ask questions in finance networking circles. At school, he drops the phrase defensively, in order to shirk the number-crunching parts of group assignments. The Open Mouth Learner is quietly both ashamed and proud of the fact that he has gotten through life this far without ever learning fractions.