What is your criteria for B-school selection?

I want to understand what is the most important criteria used by applicants in selecting a B-school. Please provide your inputs in the poll below. The poll will be closed in 6 days.

Update: As some of my readers rightly pointed out, there is no single criteria based on which you select a B-school. It is a mix of various parameters with varied importance. The objective of this poll is to get an idea what is the most important criteria in your selection. If you were to prepare a matrix to assign scores to each parameter, which parameter would get maximum weight.

Most Important Criteria in B-school Selection

ISB is ranking higher every year globally

Recently, Career 360 ranked ISB as the no. 1 B-school in India. Career 360 is part of the Outlook group. This ranking followed a methodology where the parameters for rankings were quite exhaustive. Looking at the parameters, one can easily guess that ISB deserved to be ranked higher. Although I am delighted with ISB earning this achievement, in my personal opinion, these rankings should not be used as a means of comparison among B-schools. Other schools IIMA, IIMB, IIMC and others are equally good. It all depends on your personal and professional preferences.

In late January 2010, the Indian School of Business was ranked 12th in the Global MBA Rankings by the Financial Times of London. This is an amazing accomplishment for a school that just started 9 years ago. ISB has been featuring in the top 20 continuously since the last 3 rankings. Starting with a Global ranking of 20 in 2008, it moved up to 15 in 2009. This year's 12 is definitely a positive testimonial to the fact that ISB has tremendous potential to compete globally. While it gives a sense of pride and achievement to the whole of ISB community, the fact that it is ranked above global programs such as Kellogg, Stern, Tuck and the likes prompts readers to look into the FT rankings deeply.

The criteria used

As per Financial Times, "Three main areas are analyzed to create the top 100: alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the business school and its MBA programme; and the research capabilities of each school." Digging deeper, we understand that "Weighted Salary" and "Salary percentage increase" each have a 20% weightage in the overall score, and the salaries are measured in terms of PPP adjusted dollar value. This skews the results a bit in ISB's favor considering most of the students are placed in India, where incoming salary is quite low. Post MBA average salary was Rs 19 lakhs per annum in 2008 and 15 lakhs in 2009, while the incoming batch had an average of Rs 7 lakh CTC. On an average the salary percentage increase is 166%, where ISB scored the top. Is it because MBA is overvalued in India, or is it that undergrads are paid very less? This is something to think about.

Another factor where ISB scored higher was the percentage of students placed, recorded as the % of students employed within three months of graduation. The figure stands at 97% for ISB, which is excellent for ISB. This is just because of the difference in placement culture between India and other countries. While in US and other countries, students find their job on their own, using their own networks, the school of course facilitates the process. In India, the school takes the responsibility to help you find recruiters, arrange for your interviews on campus and ensures that the whole batch gets placed. Well, it worked for ISB, isn't it? J

Where ISB ranked lower

Alumni Recommends. ISB is ranked 53 in the "recommends" criteria, which is saddening. But it is understandable, since the softer aspects of an MBA program may be more desirable, like International Students (3%), International faculty (16%), International Experience (rank 78), etc.

It has been repeatedly said that in an MBA program, you learn as much in class as outside from your peers. This makes the peer group requirement as diverse as possible to promote outside classroom learning from each other's experiences. Although ISB does maintain diversity to some extent, it still does not attract as many international students as a global B-school should. I have been close to ISB for so many years and I can see that the factors that attract international students (placements, Indian living standards, ISB brand, infrastructure, etc) are becoming much more favorable to foreign students, and the trend is changing.

What it means for ISB

The FT ranking sure provides credibility and global awareness to brand ISB. As someone said, "ISB should not just be an Indian B-school, but a global B-school located in India." With international faculty increasing, more international students joining the program and working for ISB, more cutting edge research, and increasing dedicated alumni base, ISB has a great potential to compete with Global B-schools, even if any rankings criteria change.

Having said that, I repeat, prospective MBA students should not use these rankings to compare B-schools. These rankings are just a mere tool for a B-school to prove credibility in the global space and are just an indicator of their potential.