3 tips for choosing a top business school

If you’ve just begun the hunt for the perfect MBA program, you’re probably wondering which schools are considered to be the top business schools in the world, and which of those might be a good fit for you. Pursuing an MBA is a big investment—both in time and money—so it’s worth making sure you choose the best possible school available. Here’s how to separate the wheat from the chaff:

  1. Have a look at the most influential business school rankings.

There are various influential publications and websites that publish rankings listing the top business schools or MBA programs in the world on an annual basis. For example, well-known and respected business school rankings include The Financial Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg Businessweek, amongst others. Each publication uses their own system with unique criteria to determine their own top business school rankings. These criteria often consider alumni surveys, job placement rates, starting salaries, employer surveys, and so on. Consulting these rankings is a good way to get a general idea of the top business schools and MBA programs available.

  1. It’s important to look for a top business school that meets your unique needs and goals.

While top business school rankings are useful, it isn’t enough to simply pick any school that appears near the top of the list. When choosing a business school, it’s important to find a school that’s a good fit for you specifically. That means taking a number of factors into account. Most importantly, you need to clarify why you want to pursue an MBA. What exactly do you hope to get out of it? Once you’ve outlined your specific goals, investigate whether the business school you’re looking at is able to best help you achieve those goals.

For example, if you hope to live and work in Europe, it makes sense to pick a top business school that is well regarded in Europe and that has strong ties to the European business community. Or, if you plan to move into a particular field or industry, look for an MBA program that offers a specialisation or major in that particular field. The alumni network is another important topic to investigate. The school’s alumni represents a major networking opportunity for you, so find out who attended the school, where they are now, which companies they are associated with, and how connecting with them could potentially help you in the future.

  1. Talk to current students to get an honest insider’s perspective on your prospective business school and MBA program.
You’ve looked at how the top business schools are faring in the most influential rankings, you’ve considered each school’s alumni network, and you’ve looked at the various specialisations on offer for each MBA program. Now take your research a step further by getting in touch with current students to get an insider’s perspective on each school and program. Ask about their experience of the classes, field trips, and networking opportunities offered by the school. Do they feel they’ve gained useful skills? What kind of connections have they made with their classmates and with the business world at large? Have they had any job offers or interviews? What do they value most about the school? What’s the average level of prior professional experience of candidates? Remember, you stand to learn a lot from your fellow classmates, so it’s more beneficial to attend a school at which most students have at least a few years of real-world business experience.

If you’ve singled out a few of the top business schools in the world but still need help deciding which MBA program is the best fit for you, download our free guide, How to find the perfect MBA, for a detailed look at choosing a program that’s designed to help you thrive in your professional life.

The ESSEC Global MBA is a full-time MBA, offering six Majors with an overall emphasis on international markets, and ranked seventh in Europe for employability. A truly international experience,  the program is present in both France and Singapore and boasts a highly diverse student body consisting of 90% international students who will join ESSEC’s alumni network of 47,000 graduates that are working throughout the world.

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