Columbia Business Schoolの学部長が、MBAランキングに対する自らの考えをシェアしています。

It’s just as important, however, to know what happens to students when they leave school—the outputs. If the job market deems the students to have received a valuable education, they will receive good job offers. That should hardly come as a surprise—employers want the best employees they can get. 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. Rankings that provide data on job offers, salary levels, and other “value added” criteria are providing another critical piece of the puzzle.

Put these pieces together, then, and the picture that emerges might be shocking to some. There are, in fact, top business schools—consistently so—and there is a quantitative way to differentiate them from the rest. The handful of business schools that dominate the upper tiers of today’s rankings no doubt see the input and output numbers you would expect. And because they do, they enjoy the cascading effects of being a top business school, like the programmatic adaptability that comes with financial health, and the ability to build or maintain an extraordinary faculty.

So all rankings of business schools, at least in part, reflect an on-the-ground reality—if they are taking into consideration the inputs and outputs that are key data points. Admittedly, the aggregate difference between schools in the top five or 10 can be slight. However, being ranked #1 versus #10 can significantly impact the perspective of the marketplace. It’s up to each school and each prospective applicant to discern the signal from the noise and act accordingly.

That means that, while rankings matter, if you are thinking about applying to business school, the question is whether the rankings matter for you.

Plenty of people apply to a school because it has reached the summit of a “best-of” ranking, just as many people will see a movie or buy a book after it wins an award. That’s human nature. We want to experience the best. But if you are looking for a particular type of career—as an entrepreneur or a leader in social enterprise, for example—or you know that location will be important for your future job prospects, some schools will meet your needs better than others. In which case, your needs should trump the seal of approval of any publication. You owe it to yourself to do your homework on a school’s academic curriculum, career management efforts, alumni network, and ability to put you in front of leaders who are shaping business today.

In the end, though, finding the top business school for you doesn’t have to be a guessing game. The information needed to identify the best schools is out there, and if you ask this dean, that’s the real business of business school rankings.