What do top schools have/do that other schools don't?

famejranc's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 3,478

What resources do the top undergraduate business schools have that lower ranked schools don't? What do top schools do to separate themselves, apart from having smarter students and better ocr?

Comments (27)

Aug 27, 2018

I ask this because I wonder: what should a lower ranked undergraduate business school be doing to improve itself?

Aug 27, 2018

Hiring more distinguished professors, attracting smarter students, building out a better program in general (inviting speakers to come and visit, nicer facilities, etc etc)

Aug 27, 2018

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Most Helpful
Aug 28, 2018

I've attended a low tier UG, a semi-target, and an M7 B-School.

The greatest difference is the drive, intelligence and motivation of the students. At top schools, professors teach to the smartest students and everyone else needs to keep up, which drives learning. At a low ranked school, professors teach to the bottom of the class to make sure everyone keeps up. There are also fewer "favors" for laggards at top programs.

The professors themselves are often those that literally wrote the foundations or contributed academically to widely accepted research. Not all, but enough that you'll be wowed. This means they're not lecturing on someone elses POV - they're arguing their own. It's a thrilling environment to challenge yourself in.

This leads to a high charged learning environment where people do there work more carefully and learn on their own, rather than waiting for a classroom lecture.

Additionally, the learning you get from those smart, motivated classmates can't be understated. You might be fortunate enough to be the best and brightest in an area, but rarely will you think you're the smartest in every class. There are always smart ideas and insights that you can learn from. At a low ranked school, even a semi-target, the smartest students don't have to challenge themselves to excel. And they tend to take the brunt of the work, usually out of frustration of other's outputs.

The facilities, prestige, and perks (speakers, etc) are all ancillary but important if you're attracted to that.

Additionally, the job opportunities are light years ahead of anywhere else from a top program, especially in grad school. Someone 1/3-1/2 way down their class ladder might be making $30-$40k out of a non-target or a little more at a semi on graduation. Very few settle for that from a top program. Grad school is an even bigger distinction - you're talking $130k-$250k+ for the top 50%+ of the class, depending on industry, from a top MBA. Plus you're working at the cutting edge of that industry on high level problems. From a school ranked below the top 20, an MBA hire is more likely making $80k-$90k unless they really crushed it AND got lucky. And the roles are much less interesting (i.e. big 4 supply chain consulting or tech implementation would be a common top exit, rather than generalist strategy consulting).

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Aug 28, 2018

How much is the difference between a Top 10 school and a 10-20 ranked school?Especially for internationals if goal is IB/MBB?

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Aug 28, 2018

I'd say it depends on which top 10 school and which 10-20 ranked school. And I didn't attend a top UG, the opportunities are more concentrated at the top 10 for MBA hires. I'll let others chime in on this front.

Generally, without a lump of money on the table at a well regarded 10-20 on the line, I'd venture that top 10 is definitely the way to go. The name cachet of a HYPS, MIT, even Chicago/Columbia/Duke will open a lot of doors down the line, even compared to a Northwestern/Dartmouth/etc. Top 20 programs will have many of the same opportunities, but they will be more competitive right out of school, and the mid to late career network from a top program sees additional benefits.

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Aug 28, 2018

I've been stating the same thing on college confidential and to a small group of open minded friends. Better is better! That doesn't mean lower rankings are lousy and you can't do well, it's just much harder.

The resources at the top schools are amazing. As you state, likely the most important differentiator is the caliber of peers. Combine the two and you have a powerful ecosystem that is designed to produce certain outcomes.

I've noticed an enormous difference in the attitudes of my son's peers in college vs. his friends at home (who go to typical state Us - even thought they are highly ranked state Us). More serious about their careers, more ambitious, etc. Life isn't just about the next party (although they do plenty of that), it's about creating the future they want.

Just a overall different environment. Again, better is better. Why wouldn't it be?

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Aug 28, 2018

Preftige

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Aug 28, 2018

The NETWORK is the biggest win. I've hired MBAs from specific schools just for access to their network.

Aug 28, 2018

Did you have a much larger focus (I'm assuming) on HSW?

Aug 28, 2018

More rich people.

Aug 28, 2018

a successful business school will have more successful graduates that donate lots of $$.

Harvard has a 36 billion dollar endowment....that's mostly from donations from previous graduates. If your school doesn't have grads donating tons and tons of money...the assumption is...they aren't making tons of money...and therefore...the business school must kindof suck (since the goal of graduating from business school is to make lots of $$).

The other side of the coin is network effects. Using the Harvard example....the information taught at harvard probably isn't all that different from what is taught at Boston University....yet...Boston University does not have the same reputation as Harvard. Why not (both are very expensive schools)? Once a school gets a reputation for churning out very smart grads....companies will choose to recruit there . Top companies can only recruit at a limited number of schools. There are just too many schools to recruit at them all...so reputation is used as a litmus test. MIT has a great reputation....so every tech and finance company recruits there.

I recall visiting BU when i was in college to visit my GF and hang out with her friends. Not the brightest bunch of kids...and that was an entire dorm floor. Based on that limited sample....i would not choose BU for my recruiting...i would go across the river to MIT if i could only choose 1..

just google it...you're welcome

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Aug 29, 2018

The top schools have more distinguished professors, better facilities, nicer campuses, etc. What really matters though is that they attract the best students. Better students lead to more/better recruiting opportunities, which lead to better students - it's a bit of a virtuous cycle. Most top schools don't add a lot of when you control for quality of students (test scores, family wealth/background, etc). See here: https://www.brookings.edu/research/beyond-college-... (notice it's a big mix of schools). And see Alan Krueger's study (referenced here): https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/....
I will agree that the network you get from a top school is hugely valuable, but again that's a function of your classmates, not the school.

The most effective way that lower-ranked schools can catch up is more scholarship $$ to try and "steal" the best students from higher-ranked schools.

Aug 30, 2018

Top schools have a strict Fedora dress code.

https://media.tenor.com/images/86a75ca90616e023549f8650fce3f766/tenor.gif

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Aug 30, 2018

Today when you can learn so much online, if you are smart enough, it really doesn't matter which university did you attend. You will pay a lot of money to get in and all the value is pretty much in getting your first job. After that, you are on your own. It is a very good feeling when you constantly outperform those from target schools.

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Aug 30, 2018

To echo the above comments, the most obvious are OCR and the alumni network. Most students in the undergrad program that I'm seem to take for granted the wealth of resources available to them. Once I came to understand what those resources were, I was just flabbergasted at how fortunate the school is to have so many alumni in the field.

Students themselves are also just uber-involved in pre-professional activities, leading to a really large supply of investing/finance-oriented clubs. Instead of just a handful, you have swathes of students who are like-minded and all deeply passionate (or who at least pretend to be deeply passionate) about finance, and thus want to go the extra mile to learn all that they can beyond their finance coursework. And when those people aggregate in one place, it tends to motivate everyone to push harder while also attracting attention from recruiters -- for example, a committee within the investment club I'm in has sent its ~15 members exclusively to top buyside and RX shops out of undergrad (more so top buyside than RX, even)... and it's definitely not the only one to do so.

Hope this helps -- I think it's a shame that some people in these programs don't really notice the blessing that they have. I have very close friends from non-targets who had to work 10x harder to even get a look at firms they wanted to be at.

Aug 30, 2018

As a previous commenter suggested, it's a big virtuous cycle at the top schools, but I'll even extend the argument.

A top business school has best and brightest students in the country --> attracts on-campus recruiting from top firms --> graduates secure the best/highest paying jobs in finance --> massive donations back to the school --> huge endowment --> hire amazing professors/build great facilities --> attract the best and brightest students (repeats)

It's a huge feedback loop, making a top 10 school exponentially "better" than a middle-tier school.

Aug 30, 2018

I transferred from a large, state flagship (party school) that wasn't even in the top 100 to a top 25 undergrad and there was a HUGE difference. I feel like I actually enhanced my mental capabilities at the top 25 school. Some major differences...

  • @BreakingOutOfPWM hit the nail on the head when he said that top schools teach to the best students and low-ranked schools teach to the bottom students. If you go to a top school, instructors teach with the premise that you're smart enough to rise to the occasion. You will be pushed beyond your limits and feel yourself getting smarter. I remember walking away from problem sets with my brain feeling the way your legs do after four sets of squats.
  • Your peer group makes a MASSIVE difference. Everyone thinks that they're independent and wont succumb to peer influence, yada, yada, yada, but the reality is people do. When you're around people smarter than you, you stand to learn waaay more and you'll end up holding yourself up to higher standards. I'm clinically anti-social and even I was effected strongly by the difference in peer group. You stand to learn way more from smarter people and sub-consciously your baseline for how to behave or how high to aim shifts drastically being at a top school
  • Going to a top school comes with instant clout. People know you're smart if you went to Harvard. They don't care what your major is, they know you can learn. If you go to WVU - the company you're interviewing with isn't going to give you any benefit of the doubt.
  • Target schools do a way better school recruiting alumni to give back to the school.
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Aug 31, 2018

"brain feeling the way your legs do after four sets of squats"

+1 just for that, it's a very humbling and mind-bending experience

Aug 30, 2018
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Aug 28, 2018