7 Quick Takeaways From the New 2016 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings

USnews!Hot off the presses, the much-awaited U.S. News & World Report college rankings have arrived for 2016, and in stunning news…well, there’s not much stunning news. Princeton hasn’t gone the way of ITT Tech (New Jersey’s Ivy remains #1 for the sixth straight year), and the biggest “out of nowhere” story is that Villanova, now ranked 50th for national universities, took that perch having been reclassified from a “regional university” in years prior.

Still, there are always interesting trends and takeaways to be had from the slow-changing, well-respected rankings. Here are seven that caught our team’s eye:

1) The Central (Time)-ization of Higher Ed.
The typical Harvard/Princeton/Yale top 3 was cracked by a school outside the Eastern time zone…and no, it wasn’t Stanford. The University of Chicago moved up from 4th to tie for 3rd (with Yale), moving the nation’s “medal podium” slightly west this year. This continues a big surge for U. Chicago in recent years, having moved up from as far back as 9th in 2010.

Another big mover was Rice, jumping from 18th to 15th. The sum? A total of 6 schools – U. Chicago, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Washington University St. Louis, and Vanderbilt – in the Central Time Zone made the Top 15. (Alas, those Central-timers celebrating the notion of having 40% of the Top 15 should be careful: because of ties, a total of 18 schools can consider themselves in the Top 15, as well.)

2) USC beats UCLA
In the rankings’ most dynamic intra-city rivalry, USC finally moved a step ahead of UCLA, staying at 23 while the Bruins dropped ever-so-slightly to 24th. Last year the rivals were locked at 23, whereas the previous year saw UCLA a spot head of USC.

The other major intra-city rivalries stayed static, with Harvard safely above MIT, U. Chicago safely over Northwestern, and Columbia comfortably ahead of NYU.

3) It’s Good to Be A Bostonian…
Boston University and Northeastern each cracked the Top 40 this year (tied at 39), bringing the number of Boston schools with that distinction to 7. Harvard and MIT stayed in their usual Top 10 places, with Tufts (27th), Boston College (31st), and Brandeis (34th) also staying in that Top 40.

4) …or an Upstate New Yorker
While Columbia leads the way for all New York-based schools at #5, four other New York schools make the Top 40, with three of them coming from upstate. Cornell, naturally, leads that group at #15, and both the University of Rochester (32nd) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (39th, in Troy), also earned that distinction.

5) The Public Option
With the exception of UC-Berkeley, each of the 22 schools with a Top 20 designation is a private school with a stated price tag of over $43,000. But once that list gets into the 20s, plenty of public schools with in-state tuition costs under $20,000 enter the mix: Berkeley, UCLA, Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina all make the Top 30, with William & Mary, Georgia Tech, UC-Santa Barbara, and UC-Irvine ranking in the Top 40 at less than half the tuition cost of their private counterparts.

6) For Better Or Worse, Your Test Scores Will Matter
In the standard table view, the US News & World Report shows four statistics: tuition cost, undergraduate enrollment, SAT scores, and ACT scores (the range for the 25th percentile through the 75th percentile). And as you scan down the list, you’ll fisand that you have to get all the way to the 20th-ranked school (Emory) to find a middle 50% ACT range that isn’t entirely in the 30s (Emory’s is 29-33), and that only one of the top 15 schools (Dartmouth) has a middle 50% SAT range that includes scores below 1350.

As long as there are rankings that are based on quantitative data, standardized test scores will be a major way for schools to rise (or fall) in those rankings. It therefore follows that admissions officers will be looking for applicants whose stats can help them rise, so prospective students to highly-ranked schools should take their test preparation seriously.

7) Money Matters, Too
Seven of the Top 10 ranked schools are also in the U.S. News’ 2015 rankings for largest university endowments. When you see that Princeton has access to over $20 billion and Harvard holds over $36 billion, is it any wonder that these schools consistently top the U.S. university rankings? We’ll give a special shout out to Johns Hopkins, which managed its Top 10 ranking despite having “just” $3.4 billion in its coffers! Whether you think that’s puny or not, the fact is that all of these schools have the means to hire brilliant professors and give them access to world-class tools and facilities… Here’s hoping that they continue to invest in improving access to education and finding endless advances in all disciplines.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Scott Shrum and Brian Galvin.

Understanding the New GMAC MBA Rankings Tool

scottbloomdecisionsWith so many different MBA rankings, it can be difficult for the typical applicant to understand why one business school may be ranked higher in one publisher’s ranking than in another’s. This can create a culture of bias and distrust around the rankings, which limits the value of the information they present, especially considering few applicants will actually dive deep enough to uncover the DNA of each specific ranking.

The new GMAC rankings tool seeks to shed light on the differences between the various rankings. This tool provides a “one stop shop” for finding the right rankings system for your personal school selection process. Here’s a brief summary of the topics the GMAC rankings tool evaluates:

Distinctive Emphasis
A quick summary headline describing the most important criteria influencing the rankings of the publisher. This quick information will help orient your criteria for pursuing an MBA with the most relevant rankings publisher.

Rankings Methodology
A visual breakdown of how the publisher determines its rankings. This is a deeper dive into the “distinctive emphasis,” showing the full spectrum of the ranking criteria.

Rankings Fluctuation
An estimate of how much the average schools’ position changes from edition to edition. This can provide good insight into how stable and reliable the rankings of a particular publication are.

Schools Included
Information on what schools are included and the criteria each publication uses to determine inclusion. There are many MBA programs around the world and some publications are more U.S focused, international focused, full-time, or part-time focused so this category provides information on the publication’s coverage area.

Regional Popularity
A visual map of the most popular regions for a specific publisher’s ranking. The influence of a particular publication can vary from region to region, thus influencing its value to candidates in other areas.

Rankings Lists
The actual publication-specific rankings. This is the ranked list of schools that have resulted from each publisher’s unique methodology. Once you have identified the right publisher based on your target program criteria and future goals, then this list can help inform your school selection process.

This new offering from GMAC is a great tool to kick start your school research and selection processes. Leverage this resource to find the right rankings system for your MBA goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Important Admissions Insights from the 2016 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey

AIGACAIGAC (the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) presented insights from its survey of recent MBA applicants and graduates at their annual conference last month. On your own business school application journey, knowing the trends below may help you know what your peers are thinking and better inform your choices:

Let’s look at some of the most interesting findings this study presented:

School Selections Impacted by Cost-Consciousness
41% of MBA applicants in this study indicated that affordability affected their final school choices, while 21% factored program cost and access to financial aid into creating their lists of target schools.

Related to this, applicants this year showed more of an openness to business school options other than the traditional two-year MBA program than they had in the past. This could be because these options reduce opportunity costs of the time away from employment prospects. The study also showed applicants’ interest in shorter full-time MBA programs (less than 2 years) jumped significantly from 33% in 2015 to 40% in 2016.

Reputation (Ranking) Still Matters Most
Although affordability has become an increasingly considered factor in the application process – with 30% of survey respondents including net costs in their school evaluations – an MBA program’s ranking is still the most influential aspect in deciding where to apply, with 74% of respondents factoring this into their school choice.

Other major school factors applicants considered in the application process were impact on career (48%), city/geographic location of the program (46%), and school culture (38%).

Optimism on Post-MBA Career
MBA applicants remained optimistic with their post-MBA prospects this year, with 41% of respondents expecting salary increases of greater than 50% within 6 months after completing their business school education.

The most popular post-MBA target career paths for applicants remain Consulting, Finance/Accounting, and Technology. The AIGAC report also shared actual post-MBA career trends, which showed a declining number of graduates going into Finance (from 43% in 2007 to 29% in 2013), while those going into Technology more than doubled (from 8% in 2007 to 17% in 2013).

Engaging Help for the Competitive Application Process
Realizing how competitive the MBA application process is, many applicants are tapping multiple sources of support. Top support systems are friends (44%), professional admissions consultants (39%), and family (30%). Only 17% of applicants reported going through the entire process with help from “no one”.

These findings show that applicants are realizing the benefits of gaining additional business school insights and wider perspectives as they compete for the coveted spots at the top MBA programs. Although the decision of where to ultimately pursue your MBA should, of course, be your own, hopefully this information can better inform your application process and help you determine some factors to consider when choosing a business school.

For more details about the 2016 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey, please see AIGAC’s White Paper or slide presentation.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Free MBA Guide: Everything You Need to Research Business Schools and Create Compelling Applications

Columbia UniversityIt’s no secret that pursuing an MBA is a challenging and time consuming process. There are thousands of MBA programs around the world, and it’s your job to find the program best fit for you. It’s easy to identify programs where your GPA and GMAT score fall within the range of accepted candidates, but what about personal fit? Which school or schools will offer you the best environment for your unique personality and future goals?

The Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools is a must-have resource for every elite MBA applicant. Now available for free through the Veritas Prep website, this comprehensive, interactive guide cuts through the marketing jargon and basic statistics found on any school’s website to offer in-depth analysis and expert advice to gain admission to the world’s most selective graduate business programs.

Use this guide to help determine which business school is the best fit for you based on your unique needs. The Essential Guide to Top Business School includes detailed information about the world’s most competitive business schools, including class statistics, academic structure, campus culture, post-MBA employment trends, as well as actionable advice to create compelling applications.

What are you waiting for? Bring yourself one step closer to getting an MBA, and check out the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Business School for free now!

Getting ready to apply to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Should You Look at Fit or Prestige When Deciding Which Business School to Attend?

scottbloomdecisionsFor the fortunate, one of the most challenging decisions MBA applicants make this time of year is which business school to attend. Receiving an offer of admission to only one school is always great news, but when an applicant is greeted with multiple offers, the joy of admission often quickly turns to the paradox of choice. Indecision often occurs when admits are confronted with choosing between more prestigious MBA programs and those that represent a better personal or professional fit for them.

For some, the choice may be an obvious one – “Of course you should matriculate to the more prestigious program!” Others, however, would immediately choose to attend the program that better aligns with their development goals. Let’s explore some of the reasons why an admit might lean one way or the other.

Choosing Fit?
Think about the core reasons that initially drove your interest in pursuing a graduate business education. Was it to improve your analytical or problem solving skills? Was it to break into a new industry or climb the corporate ladder in your current line of work? Go back to these core desires and remember the real reasons why you are seeking an MBA. If these factors are important to you,then the school with a better fit might be best for you.

Now, this focus on fit can sometimes be forgotten in the face of rankings, which are difficult to overlook. And complicating this decision even further, many admits tend to solicit the advice of under-informed friends and family when trying to decide which MBA program to attend, so well-known programs with great brands that may not be the best fit for a candidate’s development goals are often recommended over somewhat less prestigious programs.

Choosing Prestige?
The goal for many candidates is to go to the most well-known and highly-ranked MBA program possible, so when it comes time to make a decision, it is all about which school has the best brand. Generally, the more reputed programs do tend to offer a better lifetime value and return on investment (ROI). This is because these programs often offer broader alumni networks with better long-term career considerations, particularly for those interested in global career opportunities. However, in many instances, an overall highly-ranked program may be weaker in specific industry and functional areas than lower ranked programs.

The answer to this debate is a difficult one. Admits should take both factors into consideration but strive to pursue the most highly-reputed program – not in absolute terms, but instead in terms of which best address their development needs and post-MBA goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You read more articles by him here.

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Part 2

US News College Rankings

Make sure you check out Part 1 of this article before you begin reading more of our thoughts on the recently released U.S. News and World Report‘s 2017 ranking of Best Business Schools. Now let’s take a deeper look at some of the surprises this year’s rankings presented:

 

Ranking surprises 
We were quite surprised to see Columbia (#10) come behind Tuck and Yale this year (ranked #8 and #9 respectively). Columbia has a very high yield of admitted applicants who choose to attend the school, and it has been working hard to foster a more collaborative culture. However, Tuck’s employment statistics and remarkably high percentage of graduates receiving a signing bonus (87%!) play well to the U.S. News methodology. We shouldn’t sell Tuck short, though, as other intangibles at Tuck not included in this ranking — such as student satisfaction, alumni network, and tight-knit culture — also rate among the highest of any MBA program.

Yale snagged Dean Ted Snyder from Chicago Booth back in 2011 after he presided over its precipitous rise in the rankings. His magic potion seems to be working at Yale as well, and we’ve dubbed him the “Rankings Whisperer.” He thoroughly understands the drivers of rankings and pushes all levers to the max to improve the standings of his schools. Yale has begun to move away from its ties to the social and nonprofit sectors, driving up average starting salaries and recruitment percentages, but perhaps distancing the program from its roots.

University of Virginia’s Darden School always seems to be the sleeper success story, and this year is no exception. With its best placement in more than a decade, Darden came in at #11. Darden’s reputation amongst peer schools and recruiters is not as strong as most other programs ranked in the top 15, but it has a very strong starting salary/bonus and other statistics.

Be wary of average salary numbers
The U.S. News ranking incorporates average salary plus signing bonus in its rankings, which in theory, is not a bad thing. After all, many applicants desire to gain an MBA, at least in part, to improve their salary potential. However, we recommend that you look at salaries just like the rankings themselves—by using the numbers in a broader context. After all, the difference in average salary and bonus between Harvard (ranked #1 overall) and Cornell (ranked #14 overall), is less than $5,000 per year.

If you analyze the data industry-by-industry (as we have), you’ll find that there’s little difference in salaries coming out of the top 10 to 15 programs. The biggest difference is the percentage of graduates who are able to land positions in highly selective industries, such as private equity. But here’s the rub: most of these highly selective industries are looking for extremely qualified candidates who have pre-MBA experience that fits their needs. So even if you manage to squeeze into Harvard or Stanford, if you don’t have the pre-MBA experience that these firms are looking for, then you’re going to have a tough time getting an interview, much less landing a job, in the highest paying private equity or venture capital positions.

Also, some roles, such as in investment banking, do not have as high of base salaries or signing bonuses, but a high percentage of your income will come from performance-based quarterly and annual bonuses. Other roles simply pay less, such as marketing and product management, but remain very attractive to a significant number of MBA graduates. Schools with a higher percentage of graduates taking these roles, such as Kellogg, can have lower overall salary averages, when their graduates make as much or more than peers within their chosen industry. None of this information can be captured in the U.S. News ranking.

Bottom line: Are you likely to make more money coming out of a program ranked #5 than ranked #20? Yes. But should you let this number dictate your decision between #7 and #12? Not necessarily. There are many other factors to consider, such as whether your target companies, industries, and so forth.

A holistic approach
We’ve provided a bit of context and analysis around this year’s ranking, and we encourage you to use these lists as merely a starting point in your research process. We encourage you to take advantage of our Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools to assist in your process, as it’s now available for free on our website!

In addition, if you’re interested in finding out your chances of admission to the top schools, you can sign up for a free profile evaluation to explore your individual strengths and weaknesses. Veritas Prep has worked with thousands of successful applicants to the top business schools, and we look forward to assisting you on your own journey!

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Let the Games Begin!

US News College RankingsJust three and a half months into 2016, U.S. News & World Report has already released its 2017 ranking of Top Business Schools, and there’s quite a bit to talk about. The U.S. News ranking is arguably the most influential among U.S. business schools, and for good reason.

Various stakeholders can (and do) haggle over percentages of weight given to this statistic or that, but we at Veritas Prep think it does a good job at quantifying broad characteristics that a typical business school applicant would care about, namely the school’s overall reputation (40% weight), the ability to place you in a good-paying job (35%), and the capabilities of your fellow students (25%). We won’t get into the nitty-gritty here, but you’re more than welcome to read about the rankings methodology on the U.S. News website.

Now, let’s get into the juicy stuff!

Chicago Booth moves to #2
For the first time in the poll’s history, Chicago Booth has entered the #2 spot, tied with Stanford Graduate School of Business. There’s a lot to talk about here. How can Booth, which admits one in every four applicants (24.4%), possibly rank equally to Stanford, which admits only 6.1%? The key is that Stanford graduates are pickier.

Let me explain: Stanford exceeds Booth (and pretty much every other program) in every category except job placement. In fact, on the surface, Stanford’s job placement numbers look absolutely abysmal: It ranks #52 in percentage of graduates employed at graduation (71.7%) and #74 in percentage of grads employed three months after graduation (86.2%).

But wait, shouldn’t recruiters be pounding down the door to hire Stanford grads? Indeed, they do. However, Stanford MBAs are known for being exceptionally picky, and they’re willing to wait to get the jobs they want. This year, 92% of Stanford MBAs had received a job offer within 3 months of graduation, but several of them chose not to accept those offers. MBAs from most other schools have a lower tolerance for risk, so once they near the three-month mark after graduation, few offers go unanswered.

In addition, far fewer Stanford graduates go into traditional MBA recruiting industries such as management, consulting and finance. These industries will hire whole classes of MBA recruits many months before graduation, so the schools that send more graduates into those industries tend to have stronger recruitment statistics than the programs that send more graduates into non-traditional positions. Remember, most companies will only hire someone when a position becomes available (just-in-time hiring), rather than hiring a whole slew of graduates at once.

Many Stanford grads tend to gravitate toward venture capital, private equity, or Bay Area startups, which are far smaller than the enormous banks and management consulting firms that many traditional MBAs are hired to. This depresses their statistics, but is also a key reason to attend Stanford GSB. Based on all other criteria, Stanford would be the clear #1 ranked program.

This isn’t to say that Chicago Booth isn’t deserving. The school has invested significantly in its career services resources and recruiting apparatus to ensure its graduates have stellar jobs upon graduation. Fully 95% of Booth graduates had accepted a job offer within three months of graduation, leading every school in the top-10 except the (much smaller) class at Tuck, which edged them out at 95.1%.

NYU Stern drops to #20, but ignore it
The biggest loser — by far — in this year’s ranking is NYU Stern, dropping from #11 last year to #20 this year. The school is furious, and we can’t blame them. Dean Peter Henry released a press release explaining the drop in ranking, which was due to inadvertently leaving one answer blank on a survey of 300 questions. The question asked for the number of admits that had submitted a GMAT score, which was not dramatically different from the previous year.

However, rather than simply reaching out and asking NYU Stern – perennially ranked in the top 10-12 programs – what the number should be, the ranking “estimated” the number, resulting in a drop of nine places. Clearly, their estimate was nowhere near realistic, and we at Veritas Prep believe this action by U.S. News to be in egregiously bad taste and downright punitive. We encourage all of our clients and readers to ignore this year’s ranking of NYU Stern, to not incorporate it into their school-selection decisions, and assume that had the data been reported correctly, the school would have remained in approximately the same rank.

Check out Part 2 of this article, in which we’ll take a deeper look at these rankings and what they might mean for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

4 Predictions for 2016: Trends to Look for in the Coming Year

Can you believe another year has already gone by? It seems like just yesterday that we were taking down 2014’s holiday decorations and trying to remember to write “2015” when writing down the date. Well, 2015 is now in the books, which means it’s time for us to stick our necks out and make a few predictions for what 2016 will bring in the world of college and graduate school testing and admissions. We don’t always nail all of our predictions, and sometimes we’re way off, but that’s what makes this predictions business kind of fun, right?

Let’s see how we do this year… Here are four things that we expect to see unfold at some point in 2016:

The College Board will announce at least one significant change to the New SAT after it is introduced in March.
Yes, we know that an all-new SAT is coming. And we also know that College Board CEO David Coleman is determined to make his mark and launch a new test that is much more closely aligned with the Common Core standards that Coleman himself helped develop before stepping into the CEO role at the College Board. (The changes also happen to make the New SAT much more similar to the ACT, but we digress.) The College Board’s excitement to introduce a radically redesigned test, though, may very well lead to some changes that need some tweaking after the first several times the new test is administered. We don’t know exactly what the changes will be, but the new test’s use of “Founding Documents” as a source of reading passages is one spot where we won’t be shocked to see tweaks later in 2016.

At least one major business school rankings publication will start to collect GRE scores from MBA programs.
While the GRE is still a long way from catching up to the GMAT as the most commonly submitted test score by MBA applicants, it is gaining ground. In fact, 29 of Bloomberg Businessweek‘s top 30 U.S. business schools now let applicants submit a score from either exam. Right now, no publication includes GRE score data in its ranking criteria, which creates a small but meaningful implication: if you’re not a strong standardized test taker, then submitting a GRE score may mean that an admissions committee will be more willing to take a chance and admit you (assuming the rest of your application is strong), since it won’t have to report your test score and risk lowering its average GMAT score.

Of course, when a school admits hundreds of applicants, the impact of your one single score is very small, but no admissions director wants to have to explain to his or her boss why the school admitted someone with a 640 GMAT score while all other schools’ average scores keep going up. Knowing this incentive is in place, it’s only a matter of time before Businessweek, U.S. News, or someone else starts collecting GRE scores from business schools for their rankings data.

An expansion of student loan forgiveness is coming.
It’s an election year, and not many issues have a bigger financial impact on young voters than student loan debt. The average Class of 2015 college grad was left school owing more than $35,000 in student loans, meaning that these young grads may have to work until the age of 75 until they can reasonably expect to retire. Already this year the government announced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan, which lets borrowers cap their monthly loan payments at 10% of their monthly discretionary income. One possible way the program could expand is by loosening the standards of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Right now a borrower needs to make on-time monthly payments for 10 straight years to be eligible; don’t be surprised if someone proposes shortening it to five or eight years.

The number of business schools using video responses in their applications will triple.
Several prominent business schools such as Kellogg, Yale SOM, and U. of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (which pioneered the practice) have started using video “essays” in their application process. While the rollout hasn’t been perfectly smooth, and many applicants have told us that video responses make the process even more stressful, we think video is’t going away anytime soon. In fact, we think that closer to 10 schools will use video as part of the application process by this time next year.

If a super-elite MBA program such as Stanford GSB or Harvard Business School starts video responses, then you will probably see a full-blown stampede towards video. But, even without one of those names adopting it, we think the medium’s popularity will climb significantly in the coming year. It’s just such a time saver for admissions officers – one can glean a lot about someone with just a few minutes of video – that this trend will only accelerate in 2016.

Let’s check back in 12 months and see how we did. In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2016!

By Scott Shrum

Fit vs. Ranking: Choosing the Right Business School for You

Round 1 vs. Round 2One of the hardest aspects of selecting which MBA programs to apply to is reconciling how well you fit with a program with how highly ranked that same program is. Many students will initially gravitate towards rankings as their default target school list. Many applicant school lists will be left littered with the historic elite of graduate business education, with programs like Harvard, Stanford, and Kellogg consistently making appearances for unqualified applicants.

These schools top the rankings year in and year out and they do so for a reason: they are very difficult to gain admission to, with some acceptance rates in the single digits, making admission to these programs a rarity for the greater majority.

For those applicants who create their list based off of “fit”, they tend to have a bit more success in the application process. Now “fit” is not always as straightforward a concept as one might imagine when framed in the context of business school admissions. “Fit” should account for geographic, academic, professional, social, and school specific admissions criteria.

By utilizing fit, applicants can make sure that if admitted, the program properly addresses their development goals. However, adhering to the “fit” criteria above can be more difficult than it seems. Often candidates are not always completely honest when it comes to assessing where their profile may stand in comparison to the competition, so make sure to be as honest as possible with your own personal assessment.

The best approach is really to take both “fit” and the rankings into consideration to create your target school list. Identify the programs that fit your criteria both quantitatively and qualitatively as an initial step, and then leverage various external rankings to tier your potential programs. Overall, creating your target school list is an inexact science that requires a bit more of a personal touch than simply following an arbitrary list created by media publications.

Utilize the guidance above to more effectively shape your target school list to ensure you optimize your chances of admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Financial Times Business School Rankings for 2009

The Financial Times has just released its 2009 business school rankings, with Wharton and London Business School sharing the top spot.

There were a couple of notable milestones in this year’s FT rankings. LBS reached the #1 slot for the first time, breaking Wharton and Harvard Business School’s joint stranglehold on the #1 slot. Also notable was that for the first time an Asian business school cracked the top ten — Shanghai-based China European International Business School (CEIBS) came in at #8. Joining CEIBS in the top twenty were two other schools from Asia: The Indian School of Business ranked at #15, and the Hong Kong UST Business School was ranked #16.

You can see the full Financial Times rankings here. To learn what it takes to get into the world’s top business schools, visit Veritas Prep’s MBA Application Resources page. Also, for more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings for 2008

This just in! In an online chat, BusinessWeek has just revealed its 2008 business school rankings. Without further ado, here are the top 25 U.S. MBA programs for 2008:

1. Chicago (Booth)
2. Harvard Business School
3. Northwestern (Kellogg)
4. Penn (Wharton)
5. Michigan (Ross)
6. Stanford
7. Columbia
8. Duke (Fuqua)
9. MIT (Sloan)
10. UC Berkeley (Haas)
11. Cornell (Johnson)
12. Dartmouth (Tuck)
13. NYU (Stern)
14. UCLA (Anderson)
15. Indiana (Kelley)
16. Virginia (Darden)
17. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)
18. Southern Methodist (Cox)
19. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
20. Notre Dame(Mendoza)
21. UT Austin (McCombs)
22. BYU (Marriott)
23. Emory (Goizueta)
24. Yale
25. USC (Marshall)

And here are the top ten MBA programs outside of the United States:

1. Queen’s School of Business
2. IE Business School
3. INSEAD
4. Western Ontario (Ivey)
5. London Business School
6. ESADE
7. IMD
8. Toronto (Rotman)
9. IESE
10. Oxford (Said)

U.S. News and BusinessWeek vie for the title of most closely watched business schools rankings. While it’s debatable as to whether the BusinessWeek MBA ranking system or the U.S. News ranking system is more valid, the fact that BW’s rankings only come out every two years always makes this announcement a little extra exciting. To its credit, BusinessWeek does a good job of building up the drama with its online chat format for announcing their business school rankings.

For more help with the business school application process, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions consulting services. Also, for more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

Veritas Prep Featured in Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed, one of the leading voices on matters related to the higher education space, recently turned to Veritas Prep for insights on the competition among business schools in trying to outshine one another in the rankings. Chad Troutwine and I recently were in Washington, D.C., and we had a chance to sit down with Inside Higher Ed‘s Jack Stripling to discuss trends affecting the world’s top MBA programs.

Stripling’s article (“A Farewell to Arms Races?”) investigates what drives schools to roll out new academic programs, enhance their facilities, or make other significant changes. While there seemed to be a more blatant trend of schools “keeping up with the Joneses” in the 80’s and 90’s, many top schools seem to have taken a step back and are now making more deliberate changes that are in line with their core missions.

But the buzzwords of the day (be it ethics a few years ago or global business today) still seem to drive some of today’s changes at top MBA programs, which is what Chad and I discussed with Jack.

Take a look… Inside Higher Ed is a great way to stay on top of these trends if you’re considering applying to any graduate program.

Parents, Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up To Be … Parents

In two months, my wife will be giving birth to our first child. Becoming a parent has always been a scary proposition, but never more so than now. You see, in the world of admissions, I’ve now become the enemy.

At least, it seems that way if you take your cue from this recent feature from The New Yorker Magazine about the Internet scandals that have rocked the august New York (Riverdale) prep school Horace Mann. I’ve been to Horace Mann and have marveled at the cutting edge facilities wrapped up in an old world campus. I’ve noted the success rates of their students in applying to top universities. Granted, I was only there one day, but it seemed like a pretty great place to learn and prepare for life.

After reading the feature about Facebook scandals and parental bullying of the school’s educators, I’m not so sure. It seems like teaching (and therefore learning) in the face of a tyrannical parent board is next to impossible. And I’m quite sure this sort of thing is happening at other elite prep schools. I received a first-hand look at parental pressure during my time in undergraduate admission and imagine that that the dial has only been cranked in one direction in the interim. How can students be expected to learn when their lives are scripted, when they bear no responsibility, and when there are no consequences for their actions? We laugh at shows like Gossip Girl for being so ridiculous, but reality might be even more ridiculous.

The worst part is that the cycle will only continue as today’s teenagers reap the rewards from their parents’ insidious behavior and then – having sufficiently learned by example – set off on a path to repeat it.

Fortunately, this sort of boorish pay-your-way-out-of-anything approach to parenting and education does not extend to every pocket of affluence in our country. I’ve enjoyed observing those parents who have fourth grade students in my wife’s class at a private school in Pacific Palisades. In nearly unanimous fashion, this group supports the school and its educators, has expectations for their children’s behavior, and maintains proper perspective. Even more promising, I’ve seen many of these parents adopt the same approach with older children – kids who are gearing up for the competitive process of private high school admissions and then, of course, for college. It’s a great relief to find that there are still some families – some parents – who recognize value in true education.

Hopefully I can identify a few more of those to look up to – and fast. After all, I’ve only got two months left.

Surviving the Rankings Game

The U.S. News & World Report grad school rankings for 2009 came out a few weeks ago and revealed some interesting developments. (By the way, what is with the “2009” rankings coming out in April of 2008? Have academic rankings gone the way of automotive companies?).

For me, the most interesting development of all could be found in the Law School Rankings, where the 5-10 spots continue to undergo a major transformation.

First, a quick note to say that I am a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, which helps explain my attention to this sort of detail and my concern over some recent trends that pretty much boil down to two things:

1. Chicago does not care about rankings

2. Everyone else does.

These two trends have, obviously, led to significant changes at the top of most ranking systems, with U.S. News being no exception. While Chicago has continued to keep the ranking process at an arm’s length, other programs have embraced it, even staffing positions that deal exclusively with ranking services. Not only that, but many law schools have made strategic decisions to boost their profiles by pouring scholarship dollars into securing the best GPA/LSAT yields they can muster.

The combination is an effective one indeed. Schools are influencing public (and private) opinion in order to score higher in the subjective areas, while increasing their academic profile in order to score higher in the more quantitative ranking components.

Meanwhile Chicago is going the other direction. The administration has taken an “anti-rankings” stance that is both admirable (in that they refuse to game the system) and destructive (in that it is hurting the school). The problem with refusing to engage in the rankings world is that everyone else cares about this. Employers, investors, voters, and pretty much any other “er” is going to put some stock in rankings like U.S. News, which means that students will care about it. They have to, because it is their future on the line. Students can’t afford to rest on their laurels or sleep easy knowing how great the faculty is. They have to think about the rate of return on their educational investment. And if that return isn’t as promising at Chicago as it is at Columbia, then the student is going to Columbia. Period.

As recently as this decade, Chicago was ranked third in the country among all law schools by U.S. News. When I was admitted for the fall of 2004, the school was fourth (Stanford had moved up), just ahead of Columbia and NYU. By the time I reached my 3L year, the New York schools had moved ahead and dropped U of C to sixth. Last year, Penn moved into a tie for sixth.

Now, Berkeley has vaulted into the #6 spot, leaving Chicago in a tie for seventh with Penn.

No matter how you feel about academic rankings in general, or U.S. News specifically, going from third to tied for seventh in under 10 years is a pretty terrible.

Even worse, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the school slides in the rankings, it starts to lose out on the top students. Then, the quality of each class starts to drop. Before long, the school is sliding down the charts, not because of an aversion to “The Rankings Game,” but because they simply don’t have the same caliber of students.

And that’s what I fear for Chicago. It is a school with a lot of great qualities and a very pure approach to academia. But it is also a law school with a crappy old building, an increasingly archaic approach to education (one of the last schools to cling to the Socratic Method, one of the first to turn off wireless Internet in the classrooms), and a stodgy campus setting. If the University of Chicago starts to lose its level of prestige – which is derived largely from rankings – then what is left to keep the best and brightest from going elsewhere?

[- Read the rest here -]

March Madness B-School Rankings

Brian recently posted up a nice article comparing the NCAA Tournament Season to the MBA application season, with some very sound advice. I, however, am going to take the onset of March Madness in another direction.

Everybody loves to look at school rankings. It’s how we determine the top business schools in the country. Every ranking uses its own criteria to determine the best schools, and these criteria can be quite complicated. But today, I offer you a much simpler ranking. These are the Top 25 business schools, based on their current AP Men’s Basketball Ranking. I tried to add the actual name of each business school in parentheses, but as many of these schools rarely grace the upper echelons of other, more “traditional” business school rankings, I couldn’t find them all. Also, some just don’t have them.

NCAA’s Top 25 Business Schools

1. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
2. Memphis (Fogelman)
3. UCLA (Anderson)
4. Tennessee
5. Kansas
6. Texas (McCombs)
7. Duke (Fuqua)
8. Wisconsin
9. Georgetown (McDonough)
10. Xavier
11. Stanford
12. Butler
13. Louisville
14. Notre Dame (Mendoza)
15. Connecticut
16. Drake
17. Purdue (Krannert)
18. Vanderbilt
19. Michigan St. (Broad)
20. Gonzaga
21. Washington St.
22. Indiana (Kelley)
23. Davidson
24. BYU (Marriott)
25. Marquette

Should you decide to use my rankings in your search for a business school*, I do hope they prove useful. And if not, consider yourself well-informed for the start of the NCAA Tournament, which is rapidly approaching.

*Please note that while college basketball is extremely exciting, most experts would probably agree that you shouldn’t base your decision to attend a given MBA program on the success of the school’s basketball team.

Financial Times 2008 Rankings

Financial Times released its newest business school rankings the other day. While Wharton remains at the top, this year did have some big changes (such as Dartmouth & Yale dropping 6 places each, and MIT jumping 7 places). The Indian School of Business and Hong Kong UST Business School are newcomers to this year’s Top 20, and we bid a farewell this year to UCLA: Anderson, Northwestern University: Kellogg, and University of Michigan: Ross.

Financial Times Top 20 Business Schools
1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
2. London Business School
3. Columbia Business School
4. Stanford University GSB
5. Harvard Business School
6. INSEAD
7. MIT: Sloan
8. IE Business School
9. University of Chicago GSB
10. University of Cambridge: Judge
11. Ceibs (China)
11. IESE Business School
13. New York University: Stern
14. IMD
15. Dartmouth College: Tuck
16. Yale School of Management
17. Hong Kong UST Business School
18. HEC Paris
19. University of Oxford: Said
20. Indian School of Business

Also check out: Last Year’s Top Schools

Source: Financial Times 2008 Business School Rankings

Economist Top 20 Business Schools

The Economist Business School rankings for 2007 have been released. The Economist rankings are determined by a combination of four factors: recent alumni, increase in salary/networking potential, new career opportunities, and personal development/educational opportunities. What’s really cool though is that they have an interactive list on their site (link below), which allows you to sort the schools by various categories and/or regions.

For example, which American school will provide you with the highest final salary? A quick selection from the drop-down menu will provide you with the result (it’s Stanford, for those interested).

Economist Top 20 Business Schools

1. University of Chicago
2. Stanford
3. IESE Business School
4. Dartmouth (Tuck)
5. IMD
6. Berkeley (Haas)
7. University of Cambridge (Judge)
8. NYU (Stern)
9. IE Business School
10. Henley Management College
11. Cranfield School of Management
12. University of Michigan (Ross)
13. Harvard Business School
14. Northwestern (Kellogg)
15. London Business School
16. MIT (Sloan)
17. INSEAD
18. Columbia Business School
19. Ashridge
20. Hong Kong University: School of Business and Management

Note: For some reason, UCLA: Anderson was not included in the rankings at all. There were other schools not included, but since Anderson is a consistent Top 20, I feel it’s worth mentioning.

Source: Economist Rankings

2007 Wall Street Journal Rankings

The Wall Street Journal released their business school rankings last night. The WSJ rankings are always interesting, because they are solely the result of recruiters’ opinions. Nevertheless, people like to see how schools rank, so here you go! I’ve listed only the top North American “National” schools, as these are the schools you are likely to see in the other rankings.

Top National Schools (North America)

1. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
2. Berkeley (Haas)
3. Columbia
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
6. UNC, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
7. Michigan (Ross)
8. Yale
9. University of Chicago
10. University of Virginia (Darden)
11. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
12. Northwestern (Kellogg)
13. Duke (Fuqua)
14. Harvard Business School
15. UCLA (Anderson)
16. Cornell (Johnson)
17. NYU (Stern)
18. University of Southern California (Marshall)
19. Stanford

Source: 2007 WSJ Rankings

US News 2008 Rankings

US News just released its business school rankings for next year, with little change from last year. Within the Top 20, there was some movement (most notably UCLA’s drop from 10 to 16), but there’s nothing absolutely unexpected in the list. It should be noted that because of the data used to compute these rankings, drastic changes aren’t extremely common. This does, however, attest to the consistency of school’s on the list.

US News Top 20

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
5. University of Chicago
7. Dartmouth (Tuck)
8. Berkeley (Haas)
9. Columbia University
10. NYU (Stern)
11. Michigan (Ross)
12. Duke (Fuqua)
12. University of Virginia (Darden)
14. Cornell (Johnson)
14. Yale
16. UCLA (Anderson)
17. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
18. UNC, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
18. University of Texas (McCombs)
20. Emory University (Goizueta)

Check out the rest of the list here.

Financial Times Rankings

Financial Times has released their 2007 Global MBA Rankings; based primarily on alumni successes, intellectual capital held by the program, and the international focus of the program. It’s interesting to see the different criteria used to judge international programs versus US business schools.

1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
2. Columbia Business School
3. Harvard Business School
3. Stanford University GSB
5. London Business School
6. University of Chicago GSB
7. INSEAD
8. New York University: Stern
9. Dartmouth College: Tuck
10. Yale School of Management
11. Ceibs (China)
11. Instituto de Empresa
13. IMD
14. MIT: Sloan
15. University of Cambridge: Judge
16. IESE Business School
17. UCLA: Anderson
18. HEC Paris
19. Northwestern University: Kellogg
19. University of Michigan: Ross
19. University of Oxford: Said

New Survey Provides Different Ways to Rank Schools

Traditionally, business school rankings hold a lot of clout, and schools push to be at the top of these lists. But for applicants, it can be hard to figure out truly what the differences are between the #1 and #2 schools. However, a new Princeton Review survey aims to help with this, by ranking schools in various categories. So while Harvard sits atop the “toughest to get into” list, it only hits #10 on the “best overall academic experience” list.

By looking at how the schools stack up category by category, prospective students can theoretically gain a better understanding than just looking at overall rankings.

You can read more about this survey here: A guide through the business school maze

Correlations

There was an interesting study done on the Top 100 MBA programs (according to Financial Times’ rankings), that looked at the academic research records of the deans. And it found an interesting, though perhaps not ridiculously unbelievable, correlation: the more academically prominent a dean, the higher the school’s ranking! It’s pretty interesting, though something that seems to make sense when you think about it. Still, the article is worth the read.