Frequently, conferences for business schools feature a dean from one of the top 10 MBA programs in the U.S. As the keynote speaker, this dean inevitably addresses the topic of the current state of the MBA. Generally, the dean presents a perspective governed by the heady view from the heights of business school education. Just as often, the dean’s view holds little application for most in the audience.
Conditions affecting top 10 programs are so different as to be irrelevant for most business schools. A few years ago, the dean of a top program told the audience that the two-year, full-time MBA’s long history of success will continue despite all the noise to the contrary in the media. He was presenting an accurate view for his program. Top 10 schools receive so many applications from accomplished and smart prospective students that they could easily handle a decline in volume without blinking an eye. However, most in the audience had already experienced significant drops in applications and couldn’t relate.
There are over 500 accredited business schools in the U.S. out of an estimated population of more than 2,000 schools. So the top 10 represent less than two percent of accredited schools nationally and 0.5 percent of all U.S. business schools. The Occupy movement of a few years ago claimed that the top one percent of wealthiest people in the country could not comprehend how the other 99 percent lived. The same could be said for the top business schools in relation to the rest.