We got a question from a BSer recently who is struggling with what to do when they were unable to bring their GMAT score into a competitive range, and we suggested that they’d need to expand their targets if they’re serious about getting an MBA:
I don’t mind expanding my school list- but which ones would you recommend? since I might eventually plan on coming back to Asia I don’t want to be attending a school that no one recognizes/knows about. I understand there is more to getting an mba than just the name but I am wondering if you have any other well recognized schools I should be looking at given the fact that folks in singapore are not going to know/care about Tufts/Ross etc.
Lots to work with here! But first we need to set some things straight. Like that comparison of Ross to Tufts. To start with… Does Tufts even have an MBA program?!??
There’s a gazillion MBA programs in the world and EssaySnark does not claim to be intimately familiar with all of them. Once you get outside the Top 30-ish, then we frequently need to resort to the Google machine to refresh the memory on programs.
That certainly does lend support for the BSer’s concern. If EssaySnark does not know about a school, then it’s not going to be well known in the general population – after all, bschool is what we do. If we have to remind ourselves of a school’s admit rate or heck, if we don’t have their essay questions memorized, then that means the school is not top-of-mind for us, and so yeah, most normal people probably haven’t heard of it. We’ve helped people get into lots of schools – like, pretty much every school (including places like Tippie in Iowa – bschool in Iowa! who knew!) so we’ve encountered the full gamut of programs and we’re well versed in helping BSers find the right fit based on their own priorities and preferences.
Even so, we had to go to Google to be sure: DOES TUFTS HAVE AN MBA PROGRAM?
And the answer is NOPE.
So at this point, alarm bells are ringing – “Ross” and “Tufts” in the same sentence – does this BSer know what they’re talking about???
The fact that the BSer named Ross with any school that we had to Google is the first issue.
Michigan Ross is not a school that EssaySnark has to Google.
It may not be a bschool that is on the tip of the tongue for your common person on the street. Everyone’s gonna think of “Harvard” or “Wharton” or “Kellogg.” Maybe they’ve never heard of “Ross.” But that doesn’t mean that Ross is some type of obscure or unknown MBA program.
Let’s back up a minute, and begin with some basics, first by talking about underlying institutions. This actually does not play a huge part in the context of the quality of a particular business school, but it certainly relates to the question of “brand”.
The University of Michigan, where the Ross School of Business is located, is a very good state school. When evaluating colleges (undergraduate programs) many people are biased that a “state school” can never be as good as a private university. It’s true that it’s often much easier to get into a state school. There’s also a huge range of state schools, as there are private colleges, so you can’t paint with too broad a brush here. It’s quite difficult to break into, say, the University of California Berkeley, while it’s not so tough for a kid to get an admit to the University of California Merced. (No knock on Merced, but it’s not Cal.) And then there’s the Cal State college system which is a totally different animal. Not all state schools are alike.
Not all private schools are alike, either. There’s a massive difference between, say, Wesleyan University (the one in Connecticut, which most people think of when they hear “Wesleyan”) and Indiana Wesleyan. Did you even know there’s an “Indiana Wesleyan”? There’s actually something like 18 “Wesleyans” in the U.S. and no, they’re definitely not all considered the same in terms of ranking and reputation. The Connecticut Wesleyan is both pricey, and competitive, with relative rates about double in terms of tuition, and about 4x in terms of competitiveness, compared to the Indiana school with the same name.
However, some state schools are so good that they’re sometimes referenced as the “Public Ivies” and the University of Michigan is in that list. A top hiring exec at Google has even stated that they’d rather hire the kid who graduated top of her class from a state school, than one who was average or even above-average at an Ivy. That says a lot, dontchya think?
OK, so the University of Michigan is more like Columbia – loosely speaking – than it is like Michigan State.
Are you still with us?
To throw some numbers behind this, here are undergrad admission rates to the schools we’ve named thus far (we use admit rate as a proxy for school quality; it’s inexact but it’s how we’re shorthanding this comparison today):
|University of Michigan Ann Arbor||32.2%|
|University of California Davis||40.6%|
|University of California Berkeley||16.0%|
|University of California Los Angeles||18.6%|
|University of California Merced||64.6%|
|California State University San Francisco||66.0%|
|Wesleyan University (Connecticut)||23.9%|
|Indiana Wesleyan University||95.7%|
Now, given this table, the hypothetical comparison of Tufts to Ross is actually totally backwards if you’re looking at the reputation of the parent institution. So this BSer tossed out the name “Tufts” claiming that it’s not recognizable in Asia (even though the BSer thought of it apparently at random) and saying that this school is not good enough for them.
Because that’s essentially what you’re saying, right? When you’re claiming that brand matters to you so much that you won’t dip down into the “lesser” schools for your MBA?
Even though we’ve now established that Tufts University is far from a “lesser” school. It’s a school that screaming hordes of high school kids would sell their sister to get into.
We’d like to propose that any U.S. college with a sub-25% admit rate is a) a “good” school by any metric you care to use, and b) one that probably has some name recognition around the world.
Now that we’ve whacked that to death, we’ll move on to the greater discussion of brand and GMAT score tomorrow. (It actually got posted the day after since we had something more important to discuss first; here’s the next post in the “brand and GMAT?” series.)
For the record, Tufts Fletcher School of Law offers a Master’s in International Business – but it’s not an MBA and we have no reason to believe that that’s what this BSer was referencing.