What's the use of going to a top b-school if you can get the same opportunities from a lower tier b-school?

askdawj's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 16

Employability: Basically the title but I'll elaborate. Considering IB, Consulting and Tech (esp Amazon) are generally the more traditional areas for MBA students to target for recruiting, I've seen that you can get the same opportunities from lower tiered schools as well. For an instance, I've seen tons of MBAs from class of 2018 (even though placements stats aren't published yet) from Ross, Darden & Duke getting MBB, IB (both BBs and EBs) and tech offers. My main source was LinkedIn. You can get the same from M7 and maybe the numbers are a little higher than these T15 schools but, and I've talked to alumni and done my research, if you're well prepared, you have about 40-60% of chance of getting offers from any of these at T15 schools and the pay packages are about the same. Now my question is why do people stress more on M7 even though no one cares where you got an MBA 2 years out? There are some areas such as PE and IM where M7 outperform other schools but even at M7 as a qualified candidate, its an uphill risky battle and you don't have the absolute assurance that you'll get into those highly coveted areas. According to my research, half of them (even though well qualified) give up before recruiting begins because the process is just too daunting and risky.

General perception: I understand that brand is absolutely important for quant/engineering/econ and research programs such as PhDs and people are generally more impressed if you tell them you went to Columbia or Chicago for engineering or PhD than if you tell them you went there for an MBA. Because I believe MBA is not an impressive degree in itself and you don't need highly qualified professors to teach you corporate finance, fixed income, strategy or marketing. In fact, some of them have "professors" who are actively employed and come from professional fields to teach there as part time.

So the only point of going to M7 is better odds at those traditional career paths? I could be totally wrong here and I'm open to any input.

Comments (13)

Nov 2, 2018

Since when are T15 B-schools lower tier?

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Nov 2, 2018

So you think they're in the same tier as M7? You're stupid

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Nov 7, 2018

your a fucking disguisting subhuman ape


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Nov 2, 2018

People like prestige and higher tier schools gives you a better shot at getting into the specific firm you want (aka Goldman, KKR, Blackstone, etc). Overall, if you want to just make it into an industry or sector (eg IB, Consulting, Tech) without being too picky on which company you want to work for, then T15 is good enough. M7 also provides a stronger network.

Nov 2, 2018

KKR/Blackstone are hard to get even from higher M7. You didn't read my post I think.

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Nov 6, 2018

They're marginally easier to get into from an M7 than they are to get into from a T15. It's a marginal difference, moron, not a black and white thing.

Most Helpful
Nov 2, 2018

I think you are missing a few things. But overall:

1) you are comparing T15 schools to M7 schools - as you can imagine the difference here will be small. So you shouldn't expect major differences (what differentiates school #8 vs #7? It is not noticeable). So while you say there are only small differences, etc. that is exactly what you should expect. As you can imagine, the further out you go to the extremes the more noticeable the difference will be.

2) All that being said there are differences as you point out. And I would bucket them into two parts:

  1. Ease of securing a job - you talk about using LinkedIn to look at peoples profiles and seeing that there are T15 school students with MBB jobs - yes of course. The opportunity is there, it is more around the probability of landing that job. The better a school is, the more the top companies recruit at it, AND the more top companies will overlook small missteps (lower GPA, extra curriculars that aren't as strong, etc.) because the school acts as a filtering system. So more opportunities and higher probability of landing these jobs - again you are comparing T15 to M7 so it isn't a huge difference - but as I said before the more you go out to the extremes the more you will see this dynamic.
  2. Actual opportunities - between M7 and T15 there aren't many opportunities that will exist for one group but not the other. But there are definitely firms that will only recruit at the top top schools. That isn't to say you can't get that role from the T15 but you usually need to work much harder. In essence you can think of some of these opportunities as "not available" to you, especially as you get closer to the 15-25 ranked b schools.

3) in general what school you went to stops mattering after a few years. But in the unlucky situation where you lose your job in that time (or decide to switch careers) the degree is more recognizable across top firms. Will job experience matter more? Yes, usually, but not 100% and definitely not at places where "image" is important. Many client facing businesses do care about the degree, in many ways because clients and others care about the degree. So it can help there and obviously with your network (better schools tend to have alumni in better positions).

At the end of the day though you are drawing an arbitrary line and differentiating schools that are very similar in terms of the value they deliver. In general for top 10-15 schools I would focus more on your fit with the school and what specializations they offer that you are interested in. You will get more value that way than deciding based on name alone.

Nov 2, 2018

Thank you so much for that detailed response.

Then another question comes to mind. Suppose you went to UPenn/Chicago, recruited for IB and landed FT GS TMT gig. You find out that some of your coworkers (in the same group of associates) are from lower ranked schools such as Darden/Stern. Wouldn't that be a little belittling or hurt your ego in some way?

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Nov 2, 2018

Definitely a troll.

Nov 2, 2018

I'm honestly not sure if I should take that comment seriously, but I will try.

Me personally? No, my ego wouldn't be bothered by that at all, and I can't imagine that this would bother most rational people.

People go to different schools, have different jobs, enjoy different hobbies, etc. for many reasons. Why would the fact that someone went to a different school bother me at all? It wouldn't bother me if the person went to community college or didn't go to school at all. If a person is good enough to get a job and does well at the job, what does it matter?

If you are trying to keep score through prestige in someway, not only will life be tough but you are going to get your a** kicked (not in the literal sense, in the business word sense - although maybe both?). That same ego is going to make you think you are better than others. Every day, every job, etc you start from square 1 (a bit of an exaggeration since there is a reputation and track record you bring with you) in a job people don't care where you went to school, when competing for business people mostly won't care - reputation helps you get your foot in the door, but you need to be able to perform and deliver.

Nov 2, 2018

There is so much more to an MBA degree than your first job out of school. If the only thing that matters to you is the first job, then yes, there is little difference between the Top 7 and the Top 15, particularly if you are focused on banking, consulting, and industry jobs. For many, those differences will be inconsequential, but for others, it can be the difference between getting on a career track or not.

Just to give one example: In my MBA class at Booth, as I understand it, nearly 100% of students (1/6th the class) that pursued banking received an offer. The friends that I have spoken to typically received up to 5 offers, at least a few of which were BBs. Geography didn't matter, folks went to NYC, SF, stayed in Chicago, did O&G in Texas, or even went international. The only people who were at risk of not getting job offers were those that had really weak English language skills, but I believe even those folks landed at banks.

Beyond the higher probabilities, the network and perceived competence extends well into your career. I've interviewed candidates for executive positions at our portfolio companies, folks who graduated 20+ years ago from their MBA programs, and I definitely take into consideration the school that they attended. While I very highly value any top 15 school, I do subconsciously give greater weight to Booth alum.

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Nov 4, 2018

I find that the ranking (especially in the T15) is less important than whether or not the program offers the resources that YOU need to get from where you are to where you want to be.

For example, does the curriculum align with your areas for development? Is the teaching methodology what works for your learning style? Do you want to have experiential learning opportunities - e.g. work on a consulting project in an industry or geography that will align with your goals? What about alumni involvement? How engaged/responsive are alumni to the requests of students?

It sounds like prestige is important to you. Frankly, I don't see there being a monumental difference in outcomes (either short or long-term) of graduates of M7 versus T15 schools. Your education and next steps are what YOU make of them, not what name is on your degree.

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Mar 26, 2019

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