Business school rankings are forever a hot topic, and we really liked the assessment strategies put forth by Dean Glenn Hubbard of Columbia Business School in a recent essay for Fortune on whether MBA rankings really matter.
It’s human nature to want to experience the best of anything, Hubbard points out, which explains why so many applicants flock to the business school programs that continuously top the rankings. But the dean suggests that applicants take a closer look at the students of the programs they are targeting as they come up with their shortlist of schools.
“It’s in the student network that you will find the metrics that matter for assessing any business school: inputs and outputs,” he explains. The economist that he is, Hubbard speaks of inputs as in applications—the volume of applications a school receives and whether that figure is trending up or down over time.
“It stands to reason that the marketplace of prospective students will send the most applications to the best schools, which will, in turn, have more selective admission rates,” says the dean.
The other side of the coin, the outputs, refers to what happens to MBA grads once they enter the job market. Employers want the best employees money can buy, and, says Hubbard, students will receive good job offers if the job market believes they have received a valuable education. “Schools that routinely graduate classes at full or near-full employment, with good job satisfaction, have reason to believe they’re receiving a vote of confidence from the market,” he says.
Aside from inputs and outputs, Hubbard urges future applicants to consider other, no less important, points of comparison, which we have always advocated for as well. Candidates should determine how the location of the school will affect recruiting prospects, whether it has a strong reputation for the particular career path they plan on pursuing, and what kind of alumni network will they be able to tap into.
Ultimately, it’s about finding the best business school for you, and with a fair amount of introspection, plus exhaustive research, the options will become crystal clear.