Congratulations! You have two or more acceptances. You have options. You have choice. You have a decision to make.
A major – and wonderful — decision: Where to spend two years and roughly $100,000 while earning your MBA, accelerating your career progression, and hooking into a professional network that will last a lifetime. How should you choose? What criteria should guide you?
Since the MBA is a professional degree, first look at career opportunities and recruiting. How is recruiting in your area of interest at the accepting schools? What percentage of graduates entered the field that you want to go into? How strong are the schools’ ties to the region you would like to live in, if you have a geographic preference? Do the companies you would like to work for recruit at these schools? Is the student body happy with the Career Services Center? What do recruiters think of your school? Study the schools’ web sites, attend admit weekends, and contact students and recent alumni to obtain answers to these questions.
Secondly look at the curriculum. Is it relatively structured or flexible? If your business background is weak, you may prefer a structured program that will give you a good foundation in business fundamentals. If you have a strong business background, you may prefer a program that allows you to pass out of basic courses. If you goal is more general, flexibility may not be that important to you. If you have a specific, somewhat non-traditional goal, you may value the ability to tailor your MBA studies to your particular needs.
What is the focus and methodology of the program? Is it a program that relies on you to connect the dots between business functions or is it a program that provides a general management perspective that forces you to examine and re-examine business situations from multiple perspectives. Do you want a case-method program like Darden or Harvard? Do you prefer schools that are project oriented like Michigan? Are professors at the school researching the latest and greatest in something that grabs you?
Last but not least, consider personal preferences. For some, personal factors will play a major role; for others, they will take a back seat, but they are something all should consider: Where do you want to live? Do you want to live in a big city or small college town? What region do you want to live in? Do you prefer a big university or a small college? Urban or rural? Warm climate or cold? Liberal or conservative?
Savor your acceptances and use the above criteria to make your choice.
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