Understanding Ranking & Choosing a School

[Business Week Rankings] [Financial Times Rankings] [US News Rankings]

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:

I. HBS/Stanford/Wharton/Kellogg/Columbia/MIT/Chicago

II. Berkeley, Duke, Cornell, Yale, UCLA, Tuck, Michigan, NYU, Virginia

III CMU/UNC/Emory/USC/Austin/

On the bubble: Georgetown/Indiana/Olin

How to Choose a School?

Short Answer:

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.

Long Answer:

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

d) Prestige

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:

    • 700+ GMAT

    • Good English (TOEFL ibt 100+, CBT 250+; IELTS 7.0+)

    • 3 years of work experience

    • Good packaging

“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.

    • If you want to become an entrepreneur, what you need is guts. An MBA will not give you this!

    • A third perfectly valid reason for not getting an MBA is that maybe the MBA culture does not appeal to you. Maybe you are not competitive, career-driven, or care about creating “value” & “synergies”? The last reason you should get an MBA is because your parents want you to or because every one of your classmates/friends are getting one.

(If you don't know what you want to do with your career or you haven't even figured out your career interests, we suggest holding off on your MBA application. Perhaps you should sign up for our “Career Assessment Service” instead.)

Get Away from a US-centric view of the world

  • There are many, many schools that will enlighten you and provide you the opportunity to advance your career, but you have to be willing to take some “risk.” By “risk,” we mean taking a road less traveled by your peers.

  • If you want to learn about business and gain global exposure, it’s better to go to a “world-class” city than a second-tier city in the US or even worse, a rural location in the freezing US Midwest. (For example, Melbourne, Australia will offer a better experience than Fargo, North Dakota.)

If you are interested in finding out what options are available to you besides the US, set up a time with our consultant. Did you know that in many countries in Europe, international students can study for an advanced degree for free & in English? If you are looking for an international experience than professional advancement, perhaps studying tuition-free is a better option.