In our Choosing the Best MBA Program for You series, you’ll learn how to create a list of business schools that are the best fit for your educational, social, and professional preferences and how creating this list will boost your chances of getting accepted.
In our last post, we discussed tips for assessing your profile. Now it’s time to focus on the future: what you want and need in your MBA program.
If you are visiting schools now, the visits can help you sort through these points and see them in a new light. For example, you might have thought you could never spend two years outside a city, but stopping by Tuck on a skiing trip opened your eyes to the abundant diversity and culture the campus and town offer, and you give the excellent program a closer look.
Whether or not you get a chance to visit schools before compiling your school list, consider the following factors and decide what’s important to you in each category:
This category includes the curriculum structure and approach (for example, preset concentrations versus flexible), strength in particular disciplines, professors in your areas of interest, degree of analytic rigor, opportunity to take courses outside the b-school, and study abroad options.
• Recruiting and career services
Recruiting for both internships and post-MBA positions should be relatively strong for your goals. But students’ actual need for this service varies depending on their existing contacts and resources. Similarly, some people have more need than others of career services’ support.
• Extracurricular opportunities
Most people will want to see that the school hosts clubs and activities in their areas of professional interest. Other than that, do you want certain volunteer activities, arts or cultural activities, religious resources, or political opportunities? Are you looking for people who share your interests? If you don’t find something you need, would it be easy to initiate a club or activity?
This factor is critical to some, insignificant to others, and somewhere in between for most. There is brand in your own perspective, and brand in the eyes of your prospective employers. Probably the latter is more important and less open to compromise. Do not mistake “brand” for “ranking.” If you need a highly competitive program such as Columbia or Wharton, that’s fine. But the issue isn’t “top 5”; it’s the value of the specific school brands for your context.
• Environment and ambiance
Do you prefer a warm and fuzzy or a hard driving learning environment? Everyone wants diversity, it seems, but what kind: geographic, professional, functional, ethnic, religious? Do you prefer a small, close-knit campus or a large, teeming one? Does it matter to you if the student body has a more conservative or liberal orientation?
Where would you like to be? Start broad, like continent. Many non-US applicants think globally, considering programs in Asia, Europe, or the US. Many Americans however remain fairly US-centric almost reflexively. If you are an American traveling abroad, try to visit some of the overseas MBA programs. You will be pleasantly surprised.
• Other personal factors
Do you need quick access to an international airport? Special medical resources? Resources for a spouse or partner? Or maybe you’re really into bobsledding and want a track nearby….
Once you’ve established what you’re looking for, you’ll have an even easier time narrowing down your choices and selecting the programs that are just right for you. But first, you’ll need to weight those items that you’ve deemed important or unimportant – what are the things that you absolutely cannot live without, what would be nice to have but not entirely necessary, and what do you really not need at all? We’ll discuss how to do this in the next post in this series.
You can significantly increase your chances of getting accepted by applying to the programs that are the best fit for your unique qualifications, goals, and preferences. Our MBA admissions consulting services will provide you with the one-on-one guidance you need to submit the best MBA applications to the best MBA programs for YOU!Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• MBA Admissions Decisions: Should You Go Full Time Or Part Time?
• 3 Ways to Determine Which Business Schools are a Good Fit for You
• Too Old for an MBA? Check Out 3 Outstanding MBA and EMBA Alternatives, a podcast episode