How Do Business School Rankings Impact Admissions?

Every year, your business school achieves a ranking online and in published reports across the US. These rankings may differ between different lists, but they have one thing in common: business school rankings influence the way people think about your school. How are rankings and enrollment connected?

Different Rankings, Different Metrics

Every list of rankings is slightly different, and this means that your student and donor audience will form a different opinion of your business school depending on which rankings they read. Rankings take into account a wide variety of metrics, including your school’s reputation with other deans and recruiters, placement success, the income and employment rates of the school’s graduates, acceptance rates, tuition, and GMAT and GRE scores. Different systems also place more weight on certain factors. Since they are comparing hundreds of different schools, business school rankings focus on measurable metrics or ask people to turn their opinions into points on a scale. For schools that are trying to establish themselves, schools with a smaller variety of programs, or schools that have a strong culture but are located in an area with lower salary or job prospects, can these metrics influence admissions?

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How Business School Rankings Impact Admissions

Guillermo A de Veyga of Seton Hall University has studied the ways in which these annual rankings impact business school admissions. He found that not only have “40% of all US students have been found to use magazine rankings in one way or another,” these rankings also impact the behavior of schools who may try to work with their data so that they appear more selective.

The reputation of a school not only influences how many people apply, it influences who applies and how much they are willing to pay. Interestingly, rankings mattered less to lower-income students, potentially because they looked more at local and lower-cost schools rather than spreading their net to include more expensive, highly-ranked institutions that might be more difficult for them to attend.

Complement Rankings With Your Own Information

A number only tells people one small part of the picture about your business school. According to de Veyga, “size, student quality, and media rankings” are the three elements of core importance to an institution’s ranking. While you can work to improve the variables that media outlets measure, you can also work to improve your reputation among students and improve your student quality. You could be #100 on the list but still have a strong faculty, excellent facilities, and a campus culture that helps students succeed. That’s why creating your own promotional materials is key to branding your business school. Through webinars, virtual tours, and other student information sessions, help prospective students and donors get to know your campus and your strengths.

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