Top MBAs vs Other MBAs: There is more to Business Schools than Ranking and Accreditation
By Shola Adenekan
If you decide the MBA is for you, your next step is choosing the right business school as well as finding the money to pay for further studies.
It’s pretty basic: a good business school should provide a student with the tools they need to understand the fundamentals of business and how to make strategic cross-functional business decisions.
Black candidates, whether from overseas or home-based, who want to attend business schools in Europe or America should consider institutions that have made a commitment to diversity.
You should ask a few questions.
What is the school doing to increase the number of Black students and other ethnic minorities in its community? Does the school support Black student organisations? Is the school involved with professional organisations that support Black and overseas students?
As the MBA is perhaps the most expensive postgraduate programme, even at the cheapest business schools, what other factors should potential students consider?
Accreditation and league tables are among the most popular means of deciding.
However, you should note that the assorted globally-popular ranking systems conducted by the likes of US News, the Financial Times, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal, are as controversial as they are influential.
Rankings can be useful and confusing to candidates because the school that may be best for you may not even be on your radar screen because it is not among the top 10 or 20 on the ranking table.
Top business schools believe that having accredited and good ranking status have advantages for business schools and students.
The most important thing, they say, is that intending students know that an outside body has carefully examined the MBA programme and pronounced it as passing its quality standards.
However, some not so-popular business schools dismiss ranking and accreditation as mere marketing tools. They say ranking is elitist in the sense that it excludes institutions that do not wish to conform to certain norms and practices.
Tim Hird, a business development manager for Robert Half Management Resources - a recruitment agency for MBA graduates - also believes accreditation is of less significant to potential employers.
He says when he looks to recruit MBAs, the individual softer skills - ability to work under pressure, communicate and influence – are far more important than which business school they attended
For candidates from Africa and the Caribbean, wanting to study abroad and also looking for bargain and quality, European business schools are often popular destinations. Fees in some good business schools in Britain, Spain and France for example, can be fractions of what top American business schools charge.
Prospective students should also be aware they have to seat a pre-entry test called “The Graduate Management Admission Test (Gmat). The test was devised to help business schools determine the suitability of applicants for advanced study in business and management by measuring basic verbal, quantitative and writing skills of prospective MBA students.
The bottom line is if you plan to go to a business school, you typically need to take this test prior to the application processes.
Next week: Paying for your MBA.
Adenekan publishes the New Black Magazine. He is a journalist and has covered education and career stories for BBC News Online, The Guardian (UK), The Christian Science Monitor and other publications all over the world.
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