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Many MBA candidates have asked me to name the best business school or the best school in a list of five or six schools. While I cannot name the best business school in the abstract, it is generally possible to ascertain a Criteria Specified Best School (or set of schools).
Naming a best school is impossible in any meaningful sense in the absence of any dimension of evaluation. Once the candidate specifies even one criterion (or dimension of evaluation), the school(s) with the highest standing on that criterion will emerge as the best for that student. However, one criterion almost certainly underdescribes the latent or true set of criteria in the mind of the student. Thus, the student must define multiple dimensions of evalation and how those dimensions are linked.
This brings us to the unfortunate platitude "There is no best school, just a best school for you" that most applicants have probably heard. I confess to having used this one on occasion but I must also confess that it is an essentially meaningless statement. In the absence of criteria there cannot be a best school. Once we have established criteria there must be a best school (or set of best schools) on the basis of those criteria. This platitude reminds us that the best school might vary from student to student since their criteria are likely to vary but this seems pretty obvious. Since we are stating the obvious, it should also be noted that as the criteria sets of two candidates coincide their best school sets coincide as well. If a large number of candidates have similar criteria sets, a large number should have similar best school sets as well. Thus, we should not be surprised that groups of schools such as the ultra elites, elites, and top cluster Europe have emerged as the best school sets for applicants with criteria stressing high employment rates and high salaries.
The "no best school" mentality is dangerous because it risks obscuring substantial differences in opportunity provided by different schools. I have often seen it used as a rationalization when the applicant failed to gain admission to the school that really did provide the best set of opportunities based on the stated criteria.
I encourage all candidates to state their selection criteria explicitly at the beginning of the selection process. Waiting until the process is underway risks compromising these criteria on the basis of other concerns.
Agreed! Shooting for the best is the only way to go. MBA is super costly (which ever school u go to). Personally, in my mind, there is no point in spending astounding $120K + salary loss on schools outside of the Ultra Elite and perhaps few Elite schools. Within these few 7-10 schools I think anyone should be able to find what one is looking for.