This is part two of a two-part Q&A with Stephen Taylor, Assistant Vice President of Recruiting at Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Today, we continue our discussion with Assistant Vice President of Recruiting Stephen Taylor. Here’s yesterday’s part one, MBA Rankings Q&A: Worldwide, Rankings Play A Role.
Q: What are some of the differences in recruiting international students from domestic ones?
Taylor: “I think from the perspective of student recruitment in general, there are huge and fundamental differences between international students and domestic students. For international students, there’s the seemingly unending and mysterious challenge of securing a visa, the process for which culminates in an interview with an official representative of the U.S. government – something that can be very scary for someone who hasn’t traveled extensively. Guiding a potential student through the challenges of securing a visa is only the first part of the process for most international students. Everything is different: from the ways in which students can finance their tuition and living costs to the complexities of having a foreign transcript evaluated to the rising difficulty of securing employment post-graduation.”
Q: You mention how in countries like China and India rankings play an even higher role in the decision-making process. Do you see that changing in the future?
“For many international students, the chance to visit the campuses of their top choices is far beyond reach. A candidate in a rural international location who has excellent academic performance may have zero ability to travel to the U.S. to visit a campus, meet faculty or current students, or get a real sense of what campus life is like. This is, for most prospective international students, where the rankings come in. While many academics and members of industry view the rankings as a measure of teaching efficacy, research performance or brand awareness, it seems that most international students use rankings as a proxy for reputation, quality, and comparative effectiveness – in other words, they think better ranking means better schools. What we’ve seen is that, in the field of graduate management education, more students seem to be aware of the specialty rankings (which can be used to figure out program fit), but there are still myriad complications in the different methodologies used in developing the rankings and even in their publications – imagine the weight that the U.S. News rankings carry in China, where prospective students and their families are quite used to a system in which the government publishes the rankings of colleges and universities.
Related: MBA Rankings Just One Factor in Considering Business School | Database: Search, Sort, Compare Online MBA Programs | School Reports: Full Details on MBA Programs | Specialties: Research MBA Concentrations
“The takeaway here is that as part of the complex framework through which prospective students identify and select potential schools for graduate management education, the rankings play an immeasurably large role. While domestic students differ from their international counterparts in many ways, they hold in common one key characteristic: they are very interested in rankings. So whether or not it’s the best proxy for institutional quality, fit, or anything at all, the rankings continue to be an inextricable part of the decision framework students are using to make their final choice. And no matter the prominence of China and India in the higher education media, or the glut of information on international students from OECD, UNESCO, Open Doors, etc., the need for schools to see the rankings as a key part of their institutional profile is unlikely to change.
“It’s difficult to imagine that the branding and reputational components of the rankings will/could change, but given the increase in the number of organizations performing some kind of rankings, it will become more important for prospective students to do their homework in order to find a program that truly is a fit for them.”
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets