Well no, not really.
When you’re reading their websites or looking at their core curricula, or checking out their job placement reports, they may seem like it. The MBA degree is the MBA degree. They teach a lot of the same things. They spit grads out into the world as consultants and associates and product managers and sometimes as entrepreneurs.
When you get caught up in rankings and you see schools named “the best” then it’s tempting to believe that they’re interchangeable. If you get into Wharton, or Columbia, hey, you’re set! Those schools can both give you all that you need! You can just pick whether you want to live in Philly or NYC and be done with it! This decision is easy-peezy!
No. Not quite.
We offered the advice from Bob Bruner, former dean of Darden, the other day in the post “Go where you will do your best work.”
It’s not like picking a box of cereal at the grocery store.
“Hmmm, do I feel like Cap’n Crunch or is it a Lucky Charms kind of day?” Both will get you the requisite sugar buzz and 10 daily vitamins to start your day. They’ll both cost about the same at the checkout. From a very limited set of measures, they’re equivalent.
Is that how it works with bschools? If two schools are rated “Top 10” (or “Top 20” or whatever) are they interchangeable?
Hopefully by now you’ve clearly seen that they’re not. Yet the process of actually choosing one when you’re
stuck with blessed with multiple offers can be nerve-wracking indeed. Sometimes people even feel like it would’ve been better if they’d only gotten one admission. Yes, it can be that hard to decide.
It’s important to recognize is that there are vast differences between schools clustered close to each other on the various lists. You might see, for example, Booth and Kellogg in reasonably close proximity (2017 USNews #3 and #4 respectively) – and obviously they’re in very close geographic proximity – but that does not mean that these two schools are very much alike. Most people we work with discover that they’re much more attracted to either Kellogg or Booth when they’ve done their research on both places.
Bschools are not interchangeable. They are totally not the same.
That being said, the MBA degree is so amazingly flexible, and all the schools we talk about on this blahg all the time are so incredibly incredible, that you could say they’re all the same. You can pick any good school and use it to get where you want to go. The possibilities are endless. Going through bschool is a choose-your-own-adventure program and you’re at the wheel. You’ll be able to recreate your life.
You’ll be in control of your own destiny.
To that extent, yes, bschools are the same. They are all opportunities. How you take advantage of those opportunities will be wholly up to you.
If you’re currently facing the dilemma of deciding between multiple offers for bschool, we have a whole archive of relevant posts to help (here’s one to start with, though the whole archive has value if you’re in this boat). We are also available for insights and opinions on these questions through our Private Consult service.
Tell us what you think.