NOTE: This is #9 in a series of blog posts on the topic, “How to Select the Right MBA Programs.” To see previous segments, link to the following:
To see how this school selection process works out in actuality, here are two examples.
A 25-year-old male (American of Korean ethnic background) in finance, with 2 years as an investment banking analyst followed by one year in private equity; the advancement and leadership are solid, not amazing. GMAT 710, GPA from good school 3.45. Extracurriculars adequate but not great. Goals: return to PE at higher level. Brand is important to him, but he accepts that it may not be Wharton or Columbia. Given his age, he would rather reapply than attend a program that is less than exciting to him, and since no safeties do, he selects only reaches and on-pars. Still, he’d love to get in this year, so he decides to apply to eight programs over rounds 1 and 2. During his research he was surprised to find a few on-pars that interested him, and he puts all three on his list: Georgetown (he was unexpectedly thrilled when he visited by the extensive campus resources overall and the high caliber of students), USC Marshall (a lot more intense than he’d believed, and he was invigorated by the Asia focus), and Cornell (where his PE experience will be a slight differentiating factor, and Cornell actually straddles reach level). The five reaches contain some variation in competitiveness: Columbia, Wharton, Chicago, NYU, LBS.
A 30-year-old female in manufacturing operations, with solid advancement and leadership. GMAT 680, undergrad GPA 3.3 from second-tier state school and grad (supply chain and IT) 3.65 from same school. Extracurriculars include significant leadership in her church. Goals: higher level operations management including global leading to general management within food industry. She needs to get in this year because of age, as each year after 30 can make it significantly harder. Her work experience is a strength, in part because females in operations are relatively few, the food industry and manufacturing related experience aren’t highly represented, and while not extraordinary she has still created a track record of leadership. She doesn’t have the time, resources, or, in fact, the desire to apply to more than six schools, and she feels she should be able to gain acceptance to an exciting program it she approaches her list carefully. She targets two reaches – Michigan and MIT (women are even a smaller percentage at MIT than most US b-schools), two on-pars – Kelley and Tepper, and two safeties – Schulich in Canada and Krannert (Purdue University).
For both of the above hypothetical applicants, objective assessment of their profiles, thoughtful examination of their needs and wants, extensive school research, and consideration of number of schools it’s feasible to apply to have yielded promising lists of targeted MBA programs.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Success, The Consultants’ Guide to MBA Admission, The EMBA Edge, and author of several articles and the free, email mini-course, “Ace the EMBA.”