Here’s an exchange we had with a Brave Supplicant last season who was debating what to do with multiple offers and challenges around school selection – this person was debating between pending opportunities at many schools, including Haas, Tuck, LBS, Wharton and Columbia:
Really appreciate your thoughts on Haas vs. Tuck. Got admitted to LBS, waitlisted at Wharton, and officially rejected from the waitlist at Columbia. So complicates things a little with the waiting game at Wharton, and I’m not sure what the probabilities are of getting off the waitlist. Additionally, I do hope to remain in finance, and LBS seems to be the strongest there; however, its a different category of schools being in Europe – so I’m not sure how much the finance strength is a sway. I was excited about LBS earlier on, but now it seems people in finance don’t really recognize it as much, and almost always assume I’m talking about London School of Economics, which isn’t the best sign. I get the impression that LBS is great in London/Europe but not well-known in the US; whereas top US schools are generally well-known outside the US (obviously some more than others).
Thanks again for all of your help!
Everything this person said is spot-on accurate about how impressions of a school are often very geographically-specific.
In fact, until you start getting immersed in the whole MBA application game, most of you probably had never heard of Tuck or Haas, right?
Everybody knows about Harvard but who’s even heard of London Business School?
These reputation differences are also very industry-specific.
While you know how we feel about rankings, this is a different angle that matters a lot. If you are trying to break into a particular industry especially, then you need to be aware of the perceptions that your target school has among professionals in that field.
To complicate things further: The brand awareness of a certain school sometimes varies tremendously in different firms in the same industry.
Certainly there are often very strong biases at some companies – both for and against – different MBA programs. Once you get an infiltration of interns and fresh hires from School X, then the culture starts to lean towards that school, and it becomes easier and easier for grads to go there when they finish their MBAs. The whole network thing, natch.
Sometimes too, this comes from the top: A senior exec went to School Y and has a not-so-subtle preference for recruiting from his alma mater.
Sometimes a certain school’s reputation gets tarnished at a company based on some bad behavior of one or two individuals, and everyone at that company decides that all grads from that school are lousy.
You never know until you get into it.
Same thing as all our exhortations to research the schools… you’ll need to research your industry, and the big players within that industry, in order to have the best advantage in your post-MBA recruiting process.
Going back to what this Brave Supplicant was saying… Some of that is the unfortunate blinders-on ignorance of Americans. We (EssaySnark is American) often have a myopic view of the world. People get a little provincial, even in the big cities. That happens everywhere, but it seems to us that Americans are a little less cosmopolitan at times. Maybe it’s because we don’t have easy opportunities to literally cross borders; it’s rare for the average American to head to Canada (even more rare for Mexico probably) and so that’s just a very unusual experience.
If you’re from Europe, then you’re crossing into another country as often as an American on a road trip would enter different states. It creates a different mindset than we have here.
And of course, once you’re in a certain industry or another, it’s easy to get isolated and insulated within that bubble. Happens a LOT in finance, and in consulting too. And when those are the employers of would-be MBAs, then sometimes you encounter some lack of knowledge about the value and strength of more “exotic” MBA programs.
Not that EssaySnark feels that LBS is “exotic.” But we can see how it’s a school that has not crossed the radar of a broad swath of working professionals.
These things matter in choosing your school.
So yet another post urging you to do your research – on the school, its offerings, what opportunities are available… and on the industry that you intend to go into post-MBA. Make the effort early, when choosing schools to apply to, and continue on with it as you go through the next months and into 2015, so you can be well armed with information when it comes time for you to make the awesome and agonizing decision to choose between multiple offers that you will inevitably (we hope!) end up accruing.