You cannot find the perfect MBA based on the rankings of business schools or by choosing “prestigious” schools.
The key to making the best choice lies in understanding why you want an MBA in the first place. What you expect it to do for you?
Let’s look at some of the key reasons for going to b-schools and how these reasons influence the selection process:
#1 To change the direction of your career
A large number of MBA graduates, and certainly the most successful ones, use their MBA qualification to build on skills and experiences they already have.
You should know that very few employers will recruit you to do something that you have never done before, irrespective of whether you have an MBA degree or not. Keeping this in mind, if you really want to change your career direction, you should aim for one of the very top schools, where companies recruit graduates based on their future potential rather than their current abilities.
#2 To setup your own business
No business school claims to be able to create entrepreneurs out of thin air. However, they do help you develop your entrepreneurial skills.
When you narrow down on a list of schools that would fit you best, you need to pay attention to the faculty at these schools. Those that combine academics with hands-on experience in developing successful businesses would be ideal.
Also look for schools with students from various cultures and nationalities that could give you both international perspectives as well as networks in key markets/areas.
#3 To earn money / get a better job / be more mobile
The real value for an MBA often becomes apparent over time. Look for schools that are going to help you develop the skills and capabilities you will need in the long run.
A school’s location also matters, so do think of where you want to be based in the long term.
Many schools have strong regional ties with specific industries, but ask yourself if these schools possess global recognition and influence.
#4 To build a network of contacts
Many MBA graduates will tell you that networks were the most useful thing they got out of their MBAs.
So you need to think about what sort of network will benefit you. Many b-schools focus on obtaining a diverse class that will produce networks across the world. This is especially relevant if you want an international career, but not very useful if you plan to work in your own country/region.
#5 To develop international experience
In the global economy, international perspectives and the understanding of how key markets work is important. If you wish to gain international experience, you should seriously consider pursuing an MBA abroad.
Check for the availability of international exchanges / student trips in the schools that you are targeting.
Also check the number of countries in which the schools’ graduates are getting jobs. Also consider the languages that could be useful in future.
#6 To develop knowledge and experience BUT without getting bankrupt
If you are willing to look beyond big names and consider up-and-coming players, there are quite a few exciting options.
A lot depends on the specific knowledge area or domain that you are considering. Search for schools that have specific programs in your areas of interests.
As far as financial aid is concerned, the newer / smaller schools may have scholarships that you may be eligible for.
As mentioned earlier, a school’s location should be a key parameter. You should think about where you want to work post-MBA. Industries usually have geographic concentrations. So, for example, if you are interested in finance, b-schools in Chicago, New York or London would be more suitable for you.
Many schools have reputations in certain areas such as entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, non-profit, real-estate, fashion, technology or health-care. These schools would have both – faculty with expertise in specific areas and a strong relationship with specific industries. So, do your research on a school’s profile.
While you shortlist your target b-schools, go beyond rankings and work on finding “the right fit” with what you really want. Not only will you find you have more relevant options, but you will also be more confident about your choice.
Are MBA rankings important?
Most experts are of the opinion that Business School rankings are important. After all, top B-schools do turn out graduates, who are the most sought-after in terms of opportunities and consequently pay checks.
With the MBA degree still considered the best passport to a career abroad, MBA rankings make sense. However, as a student, you may be thoroughly confused about which ranking to look out for. There are literally hundreds of rankings as a random search on the Internet will show you. And to top it all, rankings are based on different parameters. Here are some of the best rankings to consider while making your list:
- Forbes: ranks its MBA programs based on the return on investment that graduates receive after attending a B-school. The Forbes ranking provides you with a cost-benefit analysis that shows you if the cost of the course is worth your time and money.
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek: these rankings are based on student and employer satisfaction levels with the particular course undertaken.
- The Economist: comes out with rankings that give greater weight to personal development.
- The Financial Times: in these rankings, campus diversity gets a higher score as does your projected earning ability.
- The Global 200 Top Business School report: this ranking is based on what employers think of MBA graduates.
- The QS system of ratings (not rankings): these are based on user experience. In a nutshell, this means your employer’s views. Considered to be the best ratings, these incorporate a student’s scorecard that will allow you to put in what is important to you and then rank the B-school.
- Of the other international ranking surveys, you could also take a look at the ones featured in the Wall Street Journal.
- India has annual MBA surveys that are featured in various magazines like Outlook, Business Standard, Business World and Business Today.
- Finally, beyond the top 10 Business Schools, you should also do some homework on the B-school’s accreditation status. Ask yourself how the program you are thinking of choosing will fit into your career path and so on.
In the end, rankings are not foolproof. They serve as a guide, so don’t take them literally.
Zone in on a B-school that will also help you enhance your personality and stay one step ahead of your peers!
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You may also want to check out our article on USA MBA vs Europe MBA
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