Every January pre and post MBA graduates anxiously wait for the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings. If not to create a list of target Business Schools, to see if it's worth touting their school's global ranking amongst the most elite of schools worldwide.
I recall creating that list in 2010 with three in mind; Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Business School, and IE Business School. The list narrowed to the one school offering a balanced mix of functional areas of academic expertise I was interested in (entrepreneurship, digital marketing, OB) and social setting that is hard to rival. An environment where your colleagues represent over 70 nations and countless social political views. I chose IE Business school in Madrid and cannot reccomend the international rigorous MBA experience enough to colleagues and friends considering an MBA.
I want to provide a short list of impressions and suggestions when deciding which school to choose.
1. The network matters
A top business school program offers the opportunity to work alongside to high performers at top firms around the world. They will open doors a degree itself cannot. Targeting a program with strong ties to a company or industry of interest is a smart approach; Kellogg and marketing, Columbia and Finance, Stanford and Entrepreneurship.
2. Grades don't matter
Google shared some thoughts on this (Goldman may not agree). As it applies to positioning yourself post MBA and concern for a GPA, don't be deterred by schools that grade on forced curves. It makes for a rigorous and competitive environment, and much more emphasis is applied in the learning, and not just scoring high marks that align with professor or standardized approaches to complex work.
3. International or stay home?
I wont' make the case for international, but the differences are clear. Global network, foreign wedding invites, social and political challenges leading to real understanding and growth...you and everyone in your program making one foreign city your home. That type of environment makes for challenges and great opportunities to build lasting connections.
Home is home; much easier to assimilate, closer to family, less bureaucracy, less paperwork. Comfortable. Probably cheaper.
1. Leveraging that ranking
Are rankings emblematic of your personal academic achievement, perhaps? At the very least, if your school is ranked high, one can infer you got into and graduated from a rigorous respected program. That carries some weight.
2. Staying connected
Some of my closest personal friends are those I worked alongside at IE. We attend each others weddings, travel together, share industry and professional insights regularly, and know if any of us need a hand we have a strong network to leverage. There is quite a bit of truth in the notion that you get to know people best by working alongside them. And in a rigorous setting you really expose yourself personally and intellectually which to some may not sound attractive, but it lends to experiences that connect.