We had a rant not long ago on alumni networks and Wharton which was first prompted by a post we saw on a Beat the GMAT wall. Another admissions consultant, a graduate of Wharton, was answering a BSer’s question, and he claimed that a key factor in choosing a school should be, among other things: “Size of program – Wharton is considerably larger than the other schools.”
At the time, we went “Huh?” The “other schools” the BSer was considering were Columbia and LBS.
Sure, Wharton is “considerably larger” than LBS – Wharton’s Class of 2014 has 837 students, and LBS is half that, with 406 students graduating next year.
But waitaminit, “considerably larger” than Columbia?
Columbia had 741 students who entered in 2012 – some of them actually just graduated last month, May 2013, but since a bunch more started the J-Term this year to graduate next May, then we can use this number as an approximate to the Columbia Class of 2014 size – just to explain the difference in terminology (“entered in 2012” versus “Class of 2014” – they’re not technically equivalent, but loosely so).
OK. So Wharton = 837, LBS = 406, Columbia = 741-ish.
How is < 100 more students "considerably larger"? Do you really think that you're going to perceive the difference in experience at Wharton versus Columbia based on those 95 extra bodies wandering the halls? Once you get up over a class size of, oh idunno, maybe 500, is it really gonna matter how many more there are? It's HIGHLY unlikely you're going to meet all the students in your class - you're no way gonna know all their names - unless you're at a school like Tuck. Which was sorta our point from the previous post. When we talked about the size of the network in the context of engagement with the school.
We’ve beat this “does size (really??) matter” topic long enough. Today’s post is actually instead a reminder to examine the information you get on these here Interwebs, and make sure it flushes out.
When anyone – the ‘Snark included! – gives some advice on one of those boards – or here! – read it with a skeptic’s eye. Look at the reasons they’re offering. Examine their perspective. Check for bias. If they admit upfront to having a bias, then that’s an invitation to look even more carefully. Don’t take stuff at face value, regardless of who’s saying it.
We had a BSer correct us on the silly mean/median mistake we made. The whole title of that post was about reporting GMAT scores, and in the article itself we offered a definition of the terms. We got that part right, where we fell on our face was in citing an actual number. We claimed that Stanford has a median GMAT of 729 – which, as this BSer pointed out, is an impossibility.
That article was posted for several days, and it even got tweeted around by a bunch of people we respect and admire, and nobody else called us out on this.
We appreciated the correction. We want to give good data. Today’s post is a reminder that sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes we (meaning admissions consultants, and “experts” in general – and the schools too, we’ve heard admissions people say crazy stuff) are just flat-out wrong. Be on the lookout, Brave Supplicant. Be a smart consumer of information. Be a sponge, but have a filter.
Here's what others have said about this:
Wouldn’t every opinion have a bias (of some sort)? Because, uh, it’s an OPINION of A person.
Saying “Wharton is considerably larger than Columbia” is not an opinion. Saying “A larger bschool has advantages” would be an opinion. But we are not talking about opinions; we didn’t mention that term anywhere in this post.
The consultant who claimed that Wharton is larger than Columbia was asserting a) Wharton is larger; and b) larger is better – but that consultant may be biased, given that he is a Wharton alum.
Our point is only that all statements, and all possible biases, should be investigated. You’re making an important decision and need to know the facts. Don’t accept such statements at face value, here or elsewhere.
Better yet, be sponge worthy.
Seinfeld references are perennially useful.