Any long-time reader of the blahg knows that we don’t care for rankings.
Yes they’re useful as a starting point, but they’re artificial, and they don’t communicate all that much in terms of what you need to know about a school or whether you’re a good fit to the place (or vice versa).
When someone comes to us with a list of target schools that was obviously pulled directly from the rankings, we bristle.
We came across this article recently which really crystalized for us a key reason why we find this focus on brand so distasteful. The author is talking about Indian colleges – the IIMs and XLs – but the point translates equally well to H/S/W. In case you’re a tl;dr type, the main point of that article is that once you graduate and actually start working, you’re tossed out into the Real World and nobody is going to care what school you went to – and in fact, you risk alienating your colleagues tremendously if you trot out your bschool badge all the time.
Here’s the deal:
If you’re saying you want to go to schools A, B, and C because you understand the value that they offer and you know how you would take advantage of the unique opportunities within their distinct curriculas then great. We give you a pass on picking those schools. You’ve done your homework.
But if you’re saying you want to go to schools A, B, and C for no reason whatsoever except that they’re named “A”, “B”, and “C” and everyone has heard of those names and thus you will instantly impress the girl at the cocktail hour when you tell her that you went there…. because it’s such a (EssaySnark fans self) GOOD SCHOOL… and you must therefore be such an IMPORTANT PERSON by mere association…
All that does is tell us you have exceptionally low self-esteem.
Or, that you’re exceptionally puffed up about your own value as a person taking up space and breathing air in this world.
Or sometimes both.
(Yes those two realities can co-exist in the same person, sad but true.)
The thing is, awesome people make it into ALL the schools. And annoying and obnoxious people do, too. (You may be putting EssaySnark in the latter category based on this post today.) Just because a school decides to admit you says NOTHING about you as a person.
Our massive objection to the fixation on rankings and reputation and brand is that it’s just so darned shallow.
The underlying message for many seems to be, “I’m going to School X because I DESERVE IT. Because I’m special. Going to this school is rubber-stamping me. Everyone knows the school is elite, and now you know that I am, too.”
It’s the need for validation that is so sad.
You want to go to a school that is RIGHT for you.
ALL of the top bschools offer a transformational experience.
Do you know why that is?
It’s because they are all:
- Different from what you’ve done before
You will be out of your element. For most of you, you’ll be transplanted to a new city, often on a new continent. It will be all new people, and many many new experiences, crammed into a very short timeframe where you’re feeling breathlessly rushed and never can clear your inbox and always playing catch-up. You’ll be in GRAD SCHOOL, which is by definition harder than what you’ve ever done before, probably. If you haven’t been in ANY school for awhile, then it’s gonna totally kick your butt. You will undoubtedly undeniably unescapably change. Transform. Not be the same.
It’s what EDUCATION is about.
The transformation you get at Harvard is NOT more than the transformation you’d get at, say, Ross. If you want to go to bschool to change your life, honestly, we say that the schools are equivalent.
If you want to impress your gramma, great. Tell her all about your fabulous time at Hah-vahd when you go home for the holidays. There will be oohs and ahhs and much awe and appreciation. You will be the golden child.
That will last about 10 minutes, and then another round of schnapps will be served up, and someone will ask Judy when she’s going to find a man, she doesn’t want to end up an old spinster now does she? And the conversation will turn, and the spotlight will be off.
And you will just be you.