I’m often asked about rankings and how much they matter. While my first concern is always ensuring that the programs and services we offer for students at all levels are as good as they can possibly be, the truth is that maintaining and improving our rankings is important in many ways.
Not surprisingly, good rankings make news! Many of us keep track of where our favorite college teams are ranked, including our amazing men’s hockey team as they made their way to winning UMass’ first NCAA men’s hockey title! Or, as a lover of movies or music like me, you might check out the American Film Institute’s ranking of the 100 Greatest Movies or Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. All these ranking lists celebrate excellence in some form.
Just like films, music, and sports teams, having Isenberg ranked among top business schools improves our name recognition, which has some important direct effects. Prospective students, parents, and counselors think of us when they’re considering great college options. For recruiters and employers, seeing Isenberg included on ranking lists reinforces their perception that we’re producing exceptional graduates. When executives consider promoting Isenberg alumni to leadership positions, our high rankings signal that the candidate possesses excellent business and leadership skills.
The more success our students and graduates (like you) achieve, the more our reputation as a top business school becomes widely known. This multiplies the opportunities our students and alumni will be offered, increasing the near and long-term value of every degree we confer. A resume that includes an Isenberg degree should be a differentiator in the marketplace.
What can we do?
Obviously, rankings are a fraught issue, for lots of reasons. Some favor certain types of programs, or focus on metrics not relevant to us. Even though rankings obviously don’t tell the whole story of our school, they are a great way for us to share our positive stories widely. Importantly, they also point us to areas where we need to invest and improve.
It’s important for our alumni to know that some of the organizations that create business school rankings depend heavily on feedback gathered from alumni through email surveys. Some of these include Poets & Quants and the Financial Times. Our hope is that if any of our alumni see an email from one of these publications, containing a survey about the Isenberg experience, they will spend a few minutes answering the questions.
As a cautionary tale, I’m sorry to say that our Online MBA program did not appear on the Financial Times ranking this year, after being named the #1 in the US for the last four years. Unfortunately, the publication didn’t get enough survey responses from Isenberg alumni they had reached out to. Ours isn’t the only school this happened to, which isn’t surprising, considering that we have been in a global pandemic. People have been extremely busy, and it’s worth noting that a significant proportion of our Online MBA graduates work in the healthcare field. Despite being explainable, we are disappointed that we won’t be able to share this point of pride this year.
We’re totally confident in the ongoing high quality of that program (and all our programs). We will not let this slow us down, but I wanted to make sure our community heard about it from me, and I wanted to reiterate the importance of rankings in general so everyone will consider completing a survey if given the opportunity.
We’re committed to helping with this too, as much as we’re allowed—we will email you with a heads-up if we know you’re on a list of alumni that will be contacted with an important rankings survey. As we ease out of the pandemic and all of the restrictions associated with it, we are looking forward to not just emailing and Zooming with you, but actually planning events where we can be together in-person, in Massachusetts and around the country.
Again, I’m so grateful for everything our alumni do to keep Isenberg special. Our networks and connections improve the education we offer students, but they also have a larger effect on Isenberg's reputation in the business world. As our exceptional graduates make their way into leadership positions at the best and most innovative organizations, the Isenberg reputation grows, allowing us to attract students with bold plans for themselves and the world, thus reinforcing our status as a place that's preparing graduates for the big leagues.
In closing, in case you were wondering, the UMass hockey team ended ranked at #1 in all college hockey rankings, Citizen Kane (1941) is considered the greatest movie of all time, and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (1971) is the greatest album of all time.