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Manhattan Prep/Kaplan Survey: Aspiring Business School Students Say the Rankings Have Lost Some Prestige, But Still Depend on Them

Results from a new Manhattan Prep/Kaplan survey of more than 300 aspiring business school students show that 55 percent of respondents believe that the rankings "have lost some of their prestige over the last couple of years”; 21 percent don’t believe that to be the case, while 24 percent aren’t sure.* But while most agree that prestige has been waning, they nearly unanimously (97 percent) say that a business school’s ranking will be critical to them in deciding where to ultimately enroll, with 65 percent calling it “very important” and 32 percent calling it “somewhat important.” U.S. News & World Report released their 2024 rankings on April 9.

And in a separate Manhattan Prep/Kaplan survey of business school admissions officers, 50 percent say the rankings have lost some of their prestige, a big jump from the 37 percent who held this opinion in Kaplan’s previous survey.** One admissions officer who holds a decidedly anti-rankings position shared, “They are a joke and are simply ways to generate revenue for ranking publications. Many schools attempt to game them.” But others took a more measured approach with one saying, “Rankings are still valuable as one of many informational tools students consider when deciding where to apply. There are so many other resources, like social media, that I believe are more influential.” And several admissions officers said they think the rankings are especially important to international applicants, compared to domestic applicants, because international applicants may be less familiar with American business schools.

The survey results come after a number of business schools were rocked by rankings scandals, including providing U.S. News & World Report with false data. But so far, there’s been no widespread rebellion against the rankings, as there has been among some top colleges, law schools, and medical schools.

“We’ve spoken with hundreds of business school admissions officers over the years and more than a few have told us, using gallows humor, that the night before the U.S. News rankings come out is the longest night of the year because they don’t get much sleep. Some truly believe their careers hang in the balance. That’s largely because so many business schools use their ranking as an important, if not the most important, student recruitment and fundraising tool,” said Stacey Koprince, director of content and curriculum, Manhattan Prep, which is owned by Kaplan. “While we believe the rankings can be useful to applicants, the risk is giving a school’s ranking too much weight in determining where you ultimately enroll. One piece of advice we always give students is to strongly consider the location of the business school. It’s beneficial in the long-term to attend a business school in the city or region where you plan on building your career because of all the local connections you’ll make—connections that can turn into lucrative job offers upon graduation. It’s a big reason why so many schools in the financial and business hubs of New York, Boston, and San Francisco are so popular.”

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*The online Manhattan Prep/Kaplan survey was conducted in March-April 2024 and includes responses from 306 aspiring business school students across the United States.

**Based on the results of a Manhattan Prep/Kaplan survey conducted by phone and email in August 2023-February 2024 of 70 business schools across the United States; among them are 10 of the top 50 schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

About Kaplan

Kaplan, Inc. is a global educational services company that helps individuals and institutions advance their goals in an ever-changing world. Our broad portfolio of solutions help students and professionals further their education and careers, universities and educational institutions attract and support students, and businesses maximize employee recruitment, retainment, and development. Stanley Kaplan founded our company in 1938 with a mission to expand educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds. Today, our thousands of employees working in 27 countries/regions continue Stanley’s mission as they serve about 1.2 million students and professionals, 15,000 corporate clients, and 3,300 schools, school districts, colleges, and universities worldwide. Kaplan is a subsidiary of the Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC). Learn more at

Twitter: @KaplanEdNews

Results from a new Manhattan Prep/Kaplan survey of more than 300 aspiring business school students show that 55 percent of respondents believe the rankings "have lost some of their prestige over the last couple of years."


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