There are loads of MBA programs out there. How do you decide which ones are best for you? It’s time to unlock the secrets to the elusive “fit” factor. “Fit” is determined by how well your needs and desires match up with what a school has to offer. What features are you looking for in an MBA program? Does School X exhibit these features? Likewise, what applicant characteristics are School X’s adcom members looking for? Do you embody these characteristics?
Applying to schools where you don’t fit will be a waste of time, effort, and money – you probably won’t get in, and if you do get in and decide to attend, you likely won’t benefit from the program as much as you could have.
The following 3 tips will show you how to find a b-school that’s a great fit:
1. Evaluate your career objectives and educational needs. Look critically at your work experience and think about what you would like to do in the future. Explore the classes, tracks, and research centers at the programs you are interested in – do they match up with your interests and goals? Talk to current students and alumni about their experiences, goals, and job prospects/careers. If you are interested in non-profit management, be sure that there are classes or tracks relevant to that career goal. If you are planning to make a career change, taking extra classes in your new area of interest (and then sharing those straight A’s with the school) may make you a better fit.
2. Appraise your qualifications as an MBA applicant. Visit the websites of the programs that you may be interested in and look at the class profiles. Verify that your GMAT score, GPA, and years of work experience fall within the parameters set by the school. If a school is looking for candidates with a GMAT score of 700 and a 3.5 GPA, your 620 and 3.0 will make you less competitive at that program, and probably a weak fit.
3. Explore the intangibles. Again, turn to the school websites and look at student profiles. Can you see yourself working, studying and teaming up with these students? If so, the school may be a great fit for you. Schools have different philosophies and different approaches to the b-school curriculum – think about your own learning style and how their courses will fit your needs. Visit the schools and sit in on classes. If you are comfortable with the teaching methodology and philosophy, then that’s another point in favor of your fit with the school. Other factors like class size, approachability of professors, and the school’s environment (its size, location, etc.) will also play into your unique fit metric.
Once you have decided what factors are important to you and assessed their comparative weights, you can determine a school’s fit for you. Remember that fit is relative. Not all of the elements that you want in a school are equally important, and some are more open to compromise than others. Find the programs that most closely match your personality and career goals.
Doing your due diligence prior to applying to MBA programs can help you avoid a costly mistake – participating in a program that does not meet your needs. The goal is to find that program that is a great fit for both of you.