For about two weeks, those of us that have followed the war on the internet and on television have seen steady updates on the number of causalities and deaths suffered by not only our ‘coalition’ forces but also the Iraqi forces. Unfortunately, this week, with the loss of CPT James “Jimmy” Adamouski, admitted student to the HBS class of ’05, we were starkly reminded that these are not just numbers as the war suddenly has hit home here at HBS. Behind the veil of a number is a classmate, a husband, or a dear friend; it’s important to reflect and consider that each one of these numbers is someone that someone else loved and will miss dearly. Thanks to two contributors this week, Chris Squier (NG) and Matt Wiger (OD), each of us can gain a bit of understanding as to who Jimmy Adamouski was, while also gaining perspective as to what war and loss really mean. Without CPT James “Jimmy” Adamouski reading one case, HBS will never be the same.
Editor in Chief
Who Cares about Rankings?
(Yawn) So, another Graduate Business School ranking came out this week. U.S. News and World Report this time ranked HBS number one.
This is no different than what we, and each and every one of the students of every other “Top 5” B-School are trained to think anyway.
This is what Orwell wrote about in ‘1984’. Boot production is up. Metal production is down. Chocolate rations will be increased three grams per year. Poof, it doesn’t matter.
Rankings are not real by virtue of the fact that recruiters still love us year after year and that these rankings only seem relatively important (to students and administration) when we are ranked number 1 because it affirms what we have been saying all along (Sure it’s nice to get more applications from students that want to go to last year’s US News and World Reports, best Business School). It’s not like schools ever say, “Yeah, we’re number 2 below Wharton!” despite the fact that a silver medal is pretty damn good. In the fictitious world of B-School rankings, especially for the “Fab-Five” Business schools, there are no points for second place. In the real outside of the “Matrix,” I argue that to students, there are no points for first either.
Regardless of the publication, rankings are hard to take seriously; I recall in the Fall, The Wall Street Journal ranked HBS ninth while Stanford didn’t even crack the top 30. WSJ decided this time around that Dartmouth was number 1. Yes, that Darmouth. Magazines and Newspapers, certainly for-profit entities, change rankings, quite arbitrarily through a concoction of subjectivity that Ms. Cleo would be ashamed of in order to move magazines off the shelf. The rankings are like the location of the Olympics; they have to move around every for years to keep everyone happy when they should probably be in Athens each year. If someone is using these rankings as a significant measure of how to make their decision to which school to attend, they are in big trouble.
From our perspective, when other schools are ranked ahead of us, it’s reminiscent of when Charles Barkley won the NBA regular season MVP award in 1993. Sure, he had a great season, but Michael Jordan, like HBS, was still clearly the best player in the league. I know that reads arrogantly, but here is the bottom line (and they say we aren’t a numbers school). We have a ridiculous campus, tremendous faculty, a great learning environment, smart, ambitious and diverse students, a powerful alumni base, and perhaps most importantly a world-revered brand name in HBS. These items are true with or with out a golden seal of approval from a magazine. We come here because HBS is a great fit for us individually, not because of an arbitrary ranking. This great environment would not erode one bit if we were ranked below Po Dunk Community Evening business School although our administration would probably buy Po Dunk U and turn it into a parking lot overnight. Now, if we were to rank schools based on the quality of the student newspapers, that would be a different story.
Editor in Chief