Archive for March, 2012

Beyond the MBA Rankings

March 3rd, 2012 by under Smith Life. No Comments.

Like the thousands of MBA students currently enrolled, and the thousands more completing their applications I did a lot of research before deciding on Smith for my MBA. And like anyone who fancies themselves as a “Top Tier MBA” I spent more time focusing on rankings then I would care to admit. That said, I never realized that I would spend more time trying to understand the rankings process after matriculating then I ever did before.

As my classmates are all too aware, Smith was an unfortunate casualty of the rankings process after I matriculated. BusinessWeek ranked Smith as the 26th best MBA program in the country in 2008 (rankings are biennial), but soon after coming to school in the school experienced what I would consider a precipitous drop to 42nd. Not good…but it doesn’t nearly tell all the story.

MBA rankings are an imperfect science and lack artistic ability. They rely heavily on self-reported surveys – the kind that reward only 5 out of 5’s, and punish any score lower than that. Overall, the rankings don’t stand up to the level of scrutiny they receive. That said, if you look beyond the rankings you’ll find the right fit – in my case that was Smith.

Size

Top MBA programs come in all shapes and sizes, but few create the more intimate experience as Smith. With less than 250 full time students its easy to meet nearly all of your classmates, from both classes. Many folks might want a large program – I’ll take the more manageable size of Smith.

Location

Let’s face it, College Park is not a great place to live. That said, its a pretty darn good place to go to school – just a few miles from DC and great places to live like Bethesda and Silver Spring – College Park has a lot to offer. There is no better place to go to school than the Washington, D.C. area.

Culture

Even with Smith’s relatively small size it packs a cultural punch. Students matriculate from across the US and the world and I think the culture at Smith is something I was most surprised about. MBA programs can feel elitist, but the well-rounded cohorts at Smith are friendly, while still intellectually and professionally challenging.

The rankings may serve as a good guideline, but if you dig a little deeper and are willing to consider something different, you’ll make yourself a lot happier in the long run.

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