US News and World Report 2017 MBA ranking

When number of options is huge, it is important to have some tools that will help you with your decision. More often than not prospective students learn about their options through MBA rankings, but that’s only one of the steps, after taking a look at the rankings students need to research each of the schools separately, employment reports, regional placements, curriculum, quality of student body, flexibility, potential impact on you as a person and a professional etc. So it only follows, that after students look at the rankings and chose 5-7 schools close to each other (a few stretches, reaches and safe schools), they should not be surprised by differences when they look into employment reports and other detailed data. And that’s one of the reasons US News and World Report ranking is the most popular ranking tool – there are not a lot of fluctuations and similar schools are grouped together (when I just started looking at MBA programs I didn’t know about how strong Kellogg is because I used FT rankings, which have very little to do with reality, so if not for further research I wouldn’t have known that Kellogg is a top 5 school). But this year it might be different, at least in top-20. A few upsets made me question this ranking and reassess its value.

Booth tied with Stanford at #2

This is the first thing that will catch an eye of someone familiar with top schools’ reputations. Yeah, HBS took #1 again, but that’s not something that will surprise, but Booth having a largest leap among M7: it surpassed Wharton and tied with Stanford, is interesting. Seems like placement % has a huge impact among top-5 schools. If we take a look at their reports, it seems that Stanford students take more time to look for jobs:

2016-03-21 15_21_24-Microsoft Excel - MBB to consulting

MBA Employment reports 2015 Booth / Stanford

18% of students looking for jobs accepted offers in the 3 months after graduation. In case of weaker schools I would have suspected that these students just had to look for jobs after graduation, because they couldn’t secure an offer earlier, but in case of elite schools, that reasoning is most likely not correct. This anomaly, I suspect is explained by PE/VC/HF and start up recruitment, they are the last to hire and require some additional time commitments from students, and if that guess is correct, than it tells us that Stanford students are not afraid of taking risks, which speaks volumes about their confidence on employment opportunities. Unfortunately that is not measured by US News report, making it a bit less trustworthy. I know for a fact that Booth career office encourages students to not accept offers they don’t like, as they are confident they can get their MBA’s better ones. It follows that not accepting an offer doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.

Yale jumps 5 places to #8 or Ted Snyder is at it again

I think this is the most talked change this year. I mean a lot of us predicted that Yale will enter Top-10 within a few years, but they did it in 2016 and not only did they enter top-10, they tied for #8 with Tuck and surpassed CBS at #10. I personally think this change was a bit premature, yes the school is great, but here is the data I extracted from employment reports and LinkedIn for the class of 2015:

2016-03-17 19_58_10-Microsoft Excel - Book1

MBB/Consulting ratio at top schools (GSB and HBS probably have even better results)

As homage to Big Mac Index, I used MBB/Consulting index to put employment reports in perspective. I didn’t do the same for IB due to decline in placement; I think in 2016 Consulting rules the MBA employment. And this small and a bit flawed report (can’t fully trust Linkedin, hence the lack of Wharton) shows the difference in QUALITY against quantity, something that MBA rankings don’t take into account, but they should. Yale is a great program, but it is not better than CBS, it should not be tied with Tuck and it is not that far ahead of Darden (if at all) this year. Probably, by 2020 Yale will be among top-8 schools due to merit, not flaws in rankings. Especially considering that rankings are self-fulfilling prophecies, if before Yale admits often were choosing between M7 and Top-15 school, now they will be choosing M7 vs Top-8, and while in first case it was a difficult choice to make, now it seems much easier and add to that Yale’s name, a name that is much better known than other M7 schools, with the exception of Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

New York schools drop in rankings, CBS #10 (-2) and Stern #20 (-9).

Though both schools are placed lower than they should be in my opinion, the reasons are quite different, CBS was poorly performing in this ranking for quite some time now, so they just continued drifting lower, though their employment reports are quite clearly top-8. As of NYU Stern, their dean wrote this article: and it kinda raises certain questions about US News ranking, is it really right to knowingly release wrong data? What if HBS or Stanford were in that situation? Are there other data points that were filled in using flawed ‘estimation’ process?

This situation with Stern is a good example of why people shouldn’t take rankings at face value, even they are prepared by US News and World Report, and considering that Bloomberg BW guys are not afraid of adapting and fixing flaws, I think they can take the place of most prestigious rankings for MBA’s if this year they will avoid mistakes similar to those listed.

Week of decisions: calls from Anderson and Kellogg

By the time this week started I already was accepted to Booth, my top 1-2 choice (with Kellogg), so I was quite relaxed and confident.

First, I received an acceptance from UCLA Anderson, I tried not to visit GMATClub live thread too often and spend most of my day doing usual things (+Tuck Interview), so I they caught me off guard with their call and it was such a relief!

I don’t have a lot of MBA’s among the people I work with, so it was difficult to assess my chances, especially considering the ding from Wharton, where I believe my app was quite strong.

So actually receiving 2 admits was very important and powerful for my confidence, I knew that Booth acceptance wasn’t an anomaly but rather a reflection of my real standing in this process and with that Wednesday came and guess what: another accept! Northwestern Kellogg extended me an offer to join their class of 2018! Kellogg was my top choice actually, so this was a great call and I was ecstatic.

The rest of the week wasn’t as fruitful in terms of admits: I got WL by Duke Fuqua and has withdrawn my app, and Haas has dinged me without an interview. This actually raised some questions concerning my applications; I used different strategies that I would group as follows:

  1. Booth / Kellogg
  2. Wharton / Duke / Haas,
  3. UCLA/Tuck

With MIT I just used my Kellogg essay, so I wouldn’t call it a strategy, I didn’t prepare well for their app and missed an opportunity with the optional essay.

It seems that my second strategy was a disaster, I had time and I submitted what I wanted, but something was missing. And I think it was the ‘essence’ that was missing, stories were about me, but they didn’t really draw one true picture of me, it was ‘a bit of this, a bit of that’, while my Booth/Kellogg essays were all linked by a common theme, that was present throughout the essays and I think these essays drew a single picture in the readers mind about who is that person they are reading about. But that’s just one theory, and I think it’s important to not confuse correlation with causation.


UCLA Acceptance and Tuck Interview

Since my last post a lot has happened in terms of my path towards my MBA, so I will summarize these events and bring my blog up to date in 1-2 posts.

The Dec 14, 2015 week was quite rich on decisions for me as evident from my previous post. But no day during that week was more memorable than Monday, the day of my UCLA decision and Tuck interview. Most schools schedule the calls based on geo locations of admitted students, so Asian and European students are among the first to see that magical +1 … on their phone screens, so I was quite confident that my Skype interview with Tuck will not conflict with my UCLA call (if I was to receive one). So after coming back from work I set up my Skype, got dressed up and added my Tuck interviewer, in a few minutes the call was made and I was facing my interviewer, a member of adcom. Very sweet and friendly lady was looking at me, while being located on the other hemisphere (just think about that, progress is an amazing thing!), but the picture froze and then again, we had difficulty hearing each other, so we decided to turn off the video, then tried to call again, then again, then I called her from my phone, then she called from hers, this was quite a challenging interview, and I would lie if I tell you that I can write good enough to sparkle in you that feeling of frustration that I had in the beginning. On top of that, when we finally overcame technical issues – I got another call, I tried to cancel it, but my phone decided otherwise and answered it while putting my first line on hold, and guess what, it was a call from Anderson! They informed me about my acceptance and congratulated me on it, I had to rush that call so that my interviewer didn’t have to wait for me listening to god know what kind of music. I think that I’ve noted a bit of disappointment in my Anderson caller’s voice, as I didn’t sound very exciting though I truly was, but on top of that I was trying to figure how to rush the call without hanging up. Now that’s some juggling I had to do.

Not the best experience in theory, but thanks to my interviewer being so nice and positive what should have been a horrible memory turned out to be a very exciting and fun interview to remember and by the end of it I was relaxed, though worried that I couldn’t fully demonstrate who am I and why they should take me.


Decision week expectations

This week is most stacked in terms of decision dates; many schools will distribute their results, including some of the ones I applied to:

UCLA Anderson – it seems that admit calls will be made today (Monday, Dec 14, 2015), while final results will be communicated tomorrow. I am quite confident, my interview was pretty good, and so I think that final decision will be around ‘fit’.

Northwestern Kellogg – decisions will be sent out on Wednesday (Dec 16, 2015). Truth be told I think my interview was quite weak – it was the first interview I had and it was so soon (I received an invite almost immediately after submitting video answers) that I wasn’t as ready as I should’ve been and got caught off guard on the last question (“What else do you want to add?”). Let’s hope for the best.

Duke Fuqua – decisions are on Dec 17, 2015 (the day will start with a Star Wars movie for me, ta-ta-ta ta tata ta tata ta-ta-ta tata tatata ta taaa tata tatata tataaa tata taaaa). Again, I’m quite confident, but this decision will be similar to what I expect from Anderson – a ‘fit’ question and how I compare to peers with the same background.

Berkeley Hass – one is not like the others. I still don’t have an invite, and, considering that they already started calling, I probably won’t. And that is quite sad, truth be told – these were my favorite essays, I put a lot of effort and was sure that I will be at least invited, seems like I’ve made some mistake that I didn’t catch or that my approach to the school application was wrong. Maybe they didn’t like my choice of “The Times They Are a-Changin'” for my first essay, maybe my long-term goals seemed a bit too unrealistic to them, maybe underlying theme of my essays wasn’t as applicable to Haas as I thought, anyways I’m happy I had an opportunity to write these essays, but sad that I couldn’t build upon them during interview.

Some schools deadlines this week:

School Deadline R1 2015
Dec 16
Dec 16
Dec 17
Dec 17
Berkeley (Haas)
Dec 17
Dec 18
Dec 16
Dec 15
Dec 17
NYU (Stern) Dec 15
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) Dec 14

Good luck and have fun!

Chicago Booth: accepted!

Well, guess what? Yep, I was waiting for CST to show 9:00 am to start worrying, but I got so much work to do that I lost track of time and then I got a call on my mobile from a phone number starting with 1 (international code of USA): it was so amazing! I was waiting for the nice lady on the other end of the phone to tell me she is from Chicago Booth and when she did – I got some shot of dopamine in my brain.

So, she told me that she was a part of team who reviewed my application, gave me some feedback (My application contained a lot of personal details, so her feedback was very important for me) and provided me with some details on admit weekend. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure on how to reply, because I was overwhelmed – but I thanked her and told her of my experiences with alums and how great I feel and I also praised my interviewer, because she was amazing and deserved that. On top of that I got a scholarship!

Booth is a school that I had a lot of connection with, contrary to popular opinion, people from there were one of the most engaged, interesting and fun, alums were super nice and eager to help. I really believe that Booth and I will make a great match in terms of fit and my career goals.

Well, what a great day! Good luck to everyone! And if you will not receive a call today – don’t be sad, use gmatclub to get some feedback, people there are happy to help. MBA is a great tool to achieve certain goals, but it is one among many others, keep that in mind and stay positive!

Duke Fuqua Interview and Dartmouth Tuck Invite

Got an invite to Tuck (November round)! Feels so great! Really love the school and the people there. I spoke with quite a few alums, they were really among the most responsive ones. I especially, appreciated the honesty with which they answered my questions and their patience, as I am someone who gets to the heart of things and don’t like to have unadressed concerns. I will write a separate post about my experience with alums/current students within the research stage of application.

But now, a few words on my Duke interview: it was a few weeks ago, but I was quite busy, so my post is a bit late.

I was paired with an alum, who workes in MBB, we met in a coffee house next to his office, actually the same chain of cafés, where I met with Booth alumna, seems to be popular among MBB’s. But unlike my interview with Booth alumna,  this interview was more formal, he had a list of questions in mind and our interview was more like a Q&A session than a conversation, thought quite relaxed; what I didn’l like about this is that sometimes he would ask about topics that we discussed before, so we discussed topic A, then B, then C, then A, then C etc. a bit haphazard.

The questions were as follows:

  1. Why MBA/Why Duke, asked me to elaborate why I can’t reach the goals mentioned without MBA and how MBA will help to adress these problems.
  2. Name three qualities that your collegues would have used to describe you.
  3. Tell me a leadership story
  4. Most recent success story
  5. … (some other standard questions I can’t remember)
  6. Name 3 strenghts and weaknesses, elaborate.

The Q&A part took around an hour and then we spent another 15-20 minutes discussing his experience at the school and I asked him some questions to better understand Fuqua. This conversation made me like the alumnus, he was quite open and answered all of my questions.

So, now the wait!

First Dings: Wharton and MIT

Yep, after all of the invites this was a bummer. First I got a ding from Wharton on Nov 3 and then from MIT.

Well, with MIT I wasn’t really disappointed, because my app was really bad, I didn’t even plan applying, but their question was similar to one of my essays, and I thought: “Why not?”, I didn’t believe that I was going to apply in R2 anyways, so this was ‘now or never’.

MIT’s application was quite easy, they didn’t require TOEFL/IELTS scores (neither did I have them), so I decided to give it a try. They have this system with 8-9 criteria based on which they review each app, and the better ones get to be in top-right corner of their coordinate system.

Now, I understand that I have made some mistakes in my approach (because of the rush) as was expected. I don’t think that ‘optional’ essays were ‘mandatory’ as some say, as some people received invites without a single click on their videos/web-sites coming from MIT.

Anyways, great school, probably a great fit for a geek like me, but an expected result.

With Wharton the situation was somewhat similar in that I wasn’t planning to apply as I didn’t like a lot about the school and wanted to apply to only one of H/S/W, but the dates for Wharton were so convenient and I already had to skip H due to an early date and S as I didn’t like my essay. I had plenty of time, though looking back now I think that my essays were a bit too professional? It’s hard to tell, I really liked the work I did and I thought that I have a decent chance, so maybe they didn’t like LoR’s or my profile or something else, maybe my essays weren’t as good as I thought, maybe they didn’t like certain things that I said about my goals, I didn’t want to concentrate on Wharton being Finance school, maybe that was a mistake. Anyways, probably we will never know.

Wharton’s ding came first, at a date they scheduled (great initiative!) and I was crushed a bit, unlike with MIT, I have no particular answer as to why I was dinged, so it makes you think you’re overall profile is not good enough, which is quite scary.

Anyways, first decision date is soon, so my focus is on that.

I want to thank MIT and Wharton alums who I reached out to and who provided me with a lot of great insights (after which Wharton got higher in my personal rating and MIT dropped a bit lower) and advice.