Recently, U.S. News & World Report released its 2012 Business School rankings. The energy and commentary surrounding this perennial event is noteworthy. Stanford GSB muscled HBS out of the top spot, while my alma mater Duke Fuqua rose to No. 12.
While many MBA applicants revere the U.S. News & World Report rankings, others stand apart. The Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell lambasted the criteria used in the rankings, calling the criteria flimsy proxies for educational quality.
No matter whose ranking you prefer, we encourage you to embrace a comprehensive approach to selecting a business school. No doubt your school’s ranking and prestige will affect the potential for cultivating that golden MBA rolodex. However, your ability to execute on said potential will be determined chiefly by your state of mind, which demands a cultural and academic fit. So once you’ve narrowed down your choices based upon rank, be sure to consider these other factors:
- Location and Social Life: Do you prefer lively urban campuses or smaller college towns, where almost everyone is an outsider and folks band together?
- Cost: Most business schools cost a pretty penny, but keep in mind that tuition and fees are not the only expenses you will be facing. Be sure to take into account the cost of living in a particular location before making a decision.
- Teaching Methodologies: Harvard Business School uses the case method entirely, but that may not work for everyone. Sit-in on courses and determine what teaching methods work best for you.
- Alumni Base: When it comes time to apply for that coveted internship or dream job, you’ll need to utilize all your connections. A large alumni base may offer more opportunities, but smaller groups of former grads are often more loyal… and more likely to help an MBA from their Alma Mater.
For more advice on choosing a school and preparing for your MBA, check out our article on Poets & Quants. Need something a little more in depth? Part One of Case Studies & Cocktails is all about making the most of your time before B-school.