2007 applicants, don’t worry. I have not finished my posts for you yet. But this post is dedicated to 2008 MBA applicants, those hoping to join the MBA class of 2010. (Wow, that number!)
If you are aiming for a 2008 matriculation, presumably you are in the early stages of your research to determine which schools to apply to. The primary criteria should be:
- Your Post-MBA Goals. Since the MBA is a professional degree, first look at career opportunities. Which schools attract the most recruiters in your area of interest? 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? The schools’ web sites provide this information. Is the student body happy with the Career Services Center? What do recruiters think of your school? Contact students – and more than one – to get the answers to the latter questions.
- Your qualifications: You need to evaluate your qualifications to determine where you will be competitive. You may still benefit from perusing the rankings PROVIDED that you don’t end your research there. When using the rankings, make sure you know what they are surveying and comparing. They have different criteria and are worthless if you don’t understand the ranking methods. In using rankings remember that they – especially the specialty rankings, are good places to start your research and terrible places to end it.
- 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 solid foundation in business fundamentals. If you have a strong business background, you may prefer a program that allows you to pass or test out of basic courses. If your goal is more general, flexibility may not be that important to you. If you have a specific and perhaps somewhat non-traditional goal, you may value the ability to tailor your MBA studies to your specific needs.
- The program’s focus and methodology. 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, like Tuck? Do you want a case-method program like Darden or Harvard? Do you prefer schools that are project oriented like Michigan? Are there professors at the school researching the latest and greatest in something that grabs you?
We are planning new programs to serve 2008 MBA applicants. Please check back for the latest because I will announce these initiatives here starting in about a week and then periodically through the spring. In the meantime, here are some resources to help you get started or keep you going:
- Best Practices for MBA Admissions, an ebook with tips for applicants six months to a year before hitting SUBMIT.
- MBA BlastOff: 45 Terrific Tips to Launch Your MBA Application to Acceptance, an ebook with general tips on applying and a section devoted to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton.
- Clear Admit Guides. Clear Admit has done a thorough job in comparing the schools and highlighting their differences, something the schools themselves and the various media guides don’t do nearly as well, if at all. If you want to learn how to apply effectively and present yourself well; read Accepted.com’s ebooks; if you want to research specific schools, check out these guides.