A question was left on an unrelated post recently asking about EssaySnark’s offhand comment that we would choose Tuck or INSEAD over Booth. The Brave Supplicant said: “As far as I know Booth has a better reputation compared to Tuck. Isn’t it?”
Let’s get something straight: Ranking alone is not how anyone should be choosing a bschool.
OK. We got that out of the way. (We may say it a couple more times before we’re done.)
If by “reputation” you actually mean “ranking” then it’s debatable. Yes, Booth has sat at #1 on the BusinessWeek charts for, what, six years now? However, in that same time, Tuck has hit near the top of just as many other major rankings systems, including some global ones. The 2010 Economist ranking has Booth at #1 and Tuck at #2. Seems pretty neck-and-neck to us.
But we’re not so star-struck as to put such a premium on what some fancy-pants publication claims is “the best” – this is education we’re talking about, and that’s actually a pretty personal thing, wouldn’t you agree? This is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that’s where the overreliance on rankings systems can lead you astray.
As we said, there are a LOT of factors that go into (or SHOULD go into) choosing a school. The experience of going to Tuck, versus Booth, is vastly different, in so many ways. What are pluses for someone about a certain school are negatives for others. Different schools attract different types of people. Some companies recruit only at certain schools. Even the classroom experience (and the out-of-classroom experience for sure) is often school-specific. These differences need to be experienced firsthand in order to know which school is right for you.
If by “reputation” you mean REPUTATION, then Tuck has more clout in certain circles than Booth does. We’ve heard that Tuck has serious connections in private equity, for example. And the Tuck has street cred. Most conisseurs of the MBA (as EssaySnark likes to think we are) would agree that Tuck is at least as good on both reputation AND ranking as Booth.
But here’s the kicker: The fact that the darn rankings change regularly is enough to show that they should not be relied on exclusively. About every ten years, the rankings change fairly radically. Did you know that Wharton was the #1 prima donna darling among the bschool brat pack for most of the ’90s? And by saying today that Chicago is #1, what are you saying about the perennial favorite (based on app volume), Harvard? Or what about Stanford? Are you really telling us, BusinessWeek, that Booth is better than Stanford??
The bottom line with rankings is that they must change every year (or every two years) in order for the publication that publishes them to stay relevant. Nobody’s gonna keep buying the annual US News & World Report Top MBA Programs Special Edition Whoop-Di-Whoop (that’ll set you back a cool $10+) if the darn schools show up in the same order every year. Nobody’s gonna keep believing that BusinessWeek is some authority on bschools if they don’t do this song and dance around a new list every other year. Do you really think a slow-moving behemoth of a bschool is able to change enough in a year or two to affect its order on a rankings scale? This stuff is so subjective (and we’re not even going into the part about how the rankings can be manipulated by the schools themselves!).
Here is the moral of this story: If you pick your bschool based solely on ranking, then you are GUARANTEED to be dissatisfied in a year or two. Because that’s when a new set of rankings will come out, and it’s HIGHLY LIKELY that your Chosen One will no longer be first! Maybe not the first time, maybe not the next time, but soon.
Let’s revisit our takeaway message that we lobbed out there at the very beginning, as this is most important: Your choice of a bschool is VERY personal. Many many factors should be taken into account besides just what some magazine says is “the best.” You need to (OMG no say it isn’t true) go visit the school to understand what the school is about.
So to reiterate our answer to the Brave Supplicant who wondered, isn’t Booth better than Tuck?
Tuck is a better program IN OUR OPINION, and we would choose it over Booth. We might even recommend that others should do so, when we have a little info on them/their goals. But that does not mean that EVERYONE would or should choose Tuck, and it definitely does not mean that Booth is a lesser-than school.