Understanding Ranking & Choosing a School
There are various publications that rank business schools. We recommend using Business Week and the Financial Times, then cross referencing with current students/alumni and professionals in your desired industry of post-MBA employment.
A few points about the prestige of a school:
Don't get swayed by the annual changes in school ranking. Rankings as perceived by recruiters do not change with time.
Be cautious about the advice you receive from your professors, peers or relatives. A school that is prestigious to a Taiwanese, such as UIUC or Purdue, is not necessarily prestigious globally. It's important to remember that the world is a big place, so know what you are looking for in a school.
How we view schools:
We and, generally speaking, recruiters divide the US schools into three tiers:
II. Berkeley, Duke, Cornell, Yale, UCLA, Tuck, Michigan, NYU, Virginia
On the bubble: Georgetown/Indiana/Olin
How to Choose a School?
Get into the best school possible. A higher ranked school will give you more options and opportunities.
What about the importance of fit?
We have yet to meet someone who had a bad experience studying abroad, so our view is that as an international student, you will generally view your experience in the US/abroad very positively, so we feel that the issue of “fit” is a bit overemphasized by the brochures.
What we do find is that students often feel that there is a “disconnect” between their pre-MBA career expectations and their post-MBA/graduate school employment opportunities.
Given that you are going to have a “great time” anyway, we recommend that you focus on the unique value proposition that an MBA offers—the professional opportunities associated with the degree.
Our view is that attend the school that “fits” the best within the same tier.
I. Define a Purpose: Why do you want an MBA? Why do you want to study abroad?
a) Switch to a new industry (for example, engineering to finance, accounting to consulting)
b) Use the MBA as an opportunity to immigrate
c) Amass wealth, e.g. to gain US$70,000, $100,000, $150,000, $200,000, etc. salaries
e) For the experience
We feel that not ALL answers are equally valid!!
II. Realize that you have to make trade-offs:
For example, it's highly unlikely that you will work in marketing in the U.S. if you are an international student. We suggest that you identify your primary reason for gaining an MBA.
III. Realize that this may not be the best time to get an MBA yet!
Note the difference between being “admissible” & “employable”
Compared to gaining employment at a top firm post-MBA, admissions to a top b school is actually the easy part.
“Admissible” is relatively easy:
Good English (TOEFL ibt 100+, CBT 250+; IELTS 7.0+)
3 years of work experience
“Employability” is a different animal:
Foremost you need DESIRE and DRIVE!
Near-native fluency in English
Pre-MBA experience magnified
Take rejection well & have the ability to rebound from setbacks
Need physical stamina for never-ending networking: corporate presentations, travel, staying up across time zones, and strong immunity to fend off the common cold in light of great fatigue and lack of sleep
Great mental health & nerves of steel: to fight off stress, a bruised ego and sometimes depression
You also need a bit of luck
Take Away: Besides the question of whether you can be admitted or not, it is important to ask yourself if this is the best time to do an MBA? We feel that it is perfectly alright to delay getting an MBA until you are ready to fully leverage the value and opportunities that come with the degree.
IV. Not attending an MBA is also an option!
This is especially true if you have a great career opportunity currently or if you are looking at entrepreneurship as a career.
If you have been promoted to a post-MBA level position and you don’t intend to switch careers, there's no point in attending.