Rankings Don't Matter. Oh Wait - Yes They Do!

Kenan-Flagler ranked #6 in the WSJ's annual MBA program rankings, up from #8 last year. Good for us!

MBA rankings are a fickle beast. Administration and staff have to pretend like they don't matter, yet does anyone wanna bet that Dean Jones and the MBA program staff aren't slapping high-fives this morning?

Students must say that they removed "rankings" from the decision-making process and instead focused on other variables, such as "fit". It is just amazing how Top 5 schools seem to "fit" a little bit better and how my classmates are and will continue to be abuzz about the new rankings.

Here's my brief assessment of the WSJ survey:

1. Recruiters like us because they can pay us less. KFBS has the lowest starting salary of the schools in the Top 10. Until we get pizzaid like a Top 10 program, I'm not buying the Top 10 distinction.

(Note - The article points out that the "what's in it for me" attitude similar to that which I just indirectly expressed caused Kellogg and Michigan to drop considerably from last year's rankings.)

2. We're eager. Which I presume relates to #1. We're a consensus Top 20 school. But, with regards to the Top 10, we're a bit of an up-and-comer, a scrappy underdog, if you will. Everyone loves an underdog - especially, it seems, MBA recruiters.

3. We don't have an "MBA attitude". KFBS does an amazing job of filtering out the jerks.  I can honestly say that I haven't met a single person here that rubs me the wrong way - which is pretty amazing considering my Jerry Seinfeld-esque sensitivity to jerks.

On the contrary, I visited a consensus Top 10 school in the Northeast this past February and decided not to apply because of the surprising number of abrasive personalities I encountered. It was a recruiting visit! Aren't you supposed to be nice to me!?

KFBS would do very well to continue this trend and steal some of the "collegial MBA program" market share away from Tuck and Kellogg.

4. Our test scores are weak, but getting MUCH stronger. The survey reports an average GMAT score of ~660. This is for the class of 2008. My class has an average score of ~690.

Hopefully the test scores and other improvements will continue to push Kenan-Flagler up the rankings, which of course mean nothing and everything.