I did my MBA at INSEAD and I believe there are a few important things to take into account that we don’t talk too much about.
– Alumni: It’s not just the size and quality of the alumni network (what positions in which companies) but also the distribution of the alumni base. If you know in which country you want to work it’s important to take this into account. For instance if you know you want to work in Spain then IESE or ESADE would be top choices, even if INSEAD’s alumni base worldwide is much bigger.
– Large Vs small intakes: Harvard and INSEAD have huge promotions of about 900 MBAs/year. Other prestigious institutions like Stanford or IMD have intakes of about 100 MBAs/year. Although there are great strengths of having large numbers of graduates (alumni network, diversity in the classroom) small MBAs are more tight knit and the tuition/careers services is much more personalised.
– Life as an international student: Try getting the feel about how international a school is, how students live, is there also a social life etc… You can find out about this on iAgora’s study section, which gathers 90.000 experiences of international students :http://www.iagora.com/studies/uni/ESADE_Business_School
– Quality of students: You are supposed to learn in an MBA and a lot of the interesting part comes from having interesting discussions in the classroom. I believe there are a few indicators about the quality of students: selectivity (% of applicants that are accepted, average GMAT scores), quality of recruiters (where do the most demanding recruiters like McKinsey and Goldman Sachs recruit?), rankings are also an indicator but remember that many top schools decide not to cooperate with some of them.
– Diversity of students: Here is where size matters, but also does the selection criteria and their objectives in terms of diversity. Personally I thought that diversity in terms of cultures, social backgrounds, professional backgrounds, academic backgrounds, languages etc… made the experience truly unique.
So think of where you want to work, what kind of environment you want to live in, whether you want a truly personalised service or a more detached one.