This is the first post in our MBA Profile Series, in which we’ll explore the different criteria that factor into your decision of WHERE to apply to b-school.
Where Should You Apply?
You’ve decided that you are going to apply to b-school. Now you need to ask yourself the next critical question: WHERE? Where should you spend your next few years? Which country? Which city? And last but not least, which program?
The following questions will guide you through the process of finding the best MBA program for you based on your unique qualifications and goals:
1. What is your post-MBA goal?
a. What job function do you see yourself doing?
b. Which industry do you want to work in?
c. Where (which country/city/environment) do you want to live?
Analyzing your goals is a crucial first step. If you don’t know what you want to do, it is difficult to identify the right training you need. So think carefully and honestly about your goals.
2. Which schools support your goals?
a. Are the companies you would like to work for recruiting for the functions/industries you would like to pursue at your target school?
b. Do your target schools offer clubs and extracurricular activities in your desired field (and if not, is it possible for you to start your own club)?
c. Does the school’s curriculum offer a major, concentration, or adequate coverage for your particular interests and goals?
d. Are there professors who have done or who are currently doing research in your area of interest or in a field where you want to acquire expertise?
If a program won’t help you meet your career goals, then what would be the point of attending? If you’re interested in non-profit management, choose a school that will let you explore that focus. If international business is important to you, pick a program that will allow you to travel and interact with different aspects of the business world. Don’t choose a school if it won’t help you further your goals.
3. What are your qualifications?
a. Are you academically competitive? (Take a look at your GMAT/GRE score, transcript, additional courses, etc.)
b. Do you have impressive work experience, qualitatively and quantitatively?
c. Do your community service activities show additional skills and character traits (like initiative, leadership, responsibility, and teamwork)?
A school may full support your educational and career objectives, but if your stats are way below average, you don’t have enough work experience, and you have nothing to show leadership-wise, then you simply won’t get in. You must apply to programs that support your goals AND for which you are competitive. Yes, it’s good to shoot for the stars, but don’t overshoot.
4. What are the top 4-8 schools that you envision yourself attending?
The schools that both support your goals and at which you are competitive are the ones you should apply to. If there are lots of schools in that category, you’re in luck! Apply to the ones that simply appeal to you most. If no school meets those two criteria, then you either need to improve your qualifications or adjust your goal.
Want to see this process in action? Stay tuned…the next post in this series will introduce you to “Joe” who will walk you through the steps he takes to evaluate his qualifications and goals and choose the best b-school for him.
Ask questions. Get answers. And then map out the route to the best MBA program for you. For more details, grab your copy of Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One.