Today, there are more business schools and MBA programs than ever before to choose from. Business schools have made an effort to set themselves apart from the crowd, so the diversity between them is greater than ever as well. This is obviously a positive thing from the applicant point of view, as it increases the chances of the applicant finding something that fits his or her goals, but the vast amount of options can also make it hard to choose. After all, most will only get one MBA during their lifetime, so you can’t draw conclusions from previous experience, and you can’t really “sample” what different schools offer in the same way as you can sample other goods.
So how should you go about selecting business schools, in order to find the ones that are right for you? Here is what we suggest:
Work on your post-MBA goals before selecting the business schools that interest you
After all, you need to know what you want to get out of your MBA, and how your studies will help you develop your career afterwards, in order to tell how well suited each school is when it comes to getting you there.
In other words: If your post-MBA goal is not crystal clear already, start by fine-tuning your plans and then moving on to school selection only when you’ve done that.
Consider the content of the MBA program in question
Consider contributing factors such as teaching methods, class and school size, diversity, international exposure etc. You probably already have an idea in your head of what the content “should” be, so try to find a business school that offers specializations that compliment your end goal.
Don’t forget to think about your budget
this is a factor for most MBA applicants, and means that not all business schools are viable options for everyone. what is the point of getting into a prestigious business school if you can’t attend anyway, as you won’t be able to finance your studies?
Therefore, it is vital to make sure you know which business schools are realistic options from a budget point of view.
Try to meet school representatives in person and visit the school if possible
Taking these steps will give you a more intimate feel of the school and you may also get to meet students and/or staff there. It will also give you the opportunity to ask more specific questions if needed, and to get personal advice if that might help you. While visiting schools and meeting their representatives might be difficult if you are considering a lot of schools, try to do this for your top choices at least, if at all possible.
Check the school’s reputation and prestige
Because even if these factors may not be the most important ones for you, they are generally important for other stakeholder, such as employers. And of course, a good reputation and strong ranking is based on important factors such as job placement rates, notable company recruiters, graduation rates, post-MBA salaries, and more. Pay attention to these numbers, because even if they don’t matter to you now, they may matter in the future.
keep in mind that salaries do vary depending on the school, industry, geographic location and other particulars, as do employment prospects in general, so you will want to check into factors such as school rankings, success and track record of alumni and how selective the school is with regards to applicants. The more prestigious and the better ranked, the better of course!
Consider the network possibilities of each school
many MBA graduates will tell you that the biggest and most valuable thing they got out of their business school experience was their network and the connections they made there. Some business schools put more efforts into creating networking opportunities than others, and if networking is what you are after, you need to make sure that the schools you are considering are doing well on that front too.
Many applicants are considering business schools abroad these days, as not everyone wants to be confined by the area where they are currently residing. If an international career is what you are after, make sure the business school you choose is one that is considered attractive in as many countries as possible.
If, on the other hand, you are sure of the geographical area where you want to end up post-graduation, make sure the schools on your list are attractive to employers and well known in that specific area.
Michelle Miller is the CEO of ARINGO Americas (www.ARINGO.com), a PhD candidate, and an ardent lover of dogs and coffee.
ARINGO MBA Consulting has helped over 4000 candidates get accepted to the business schools of their dreams. Visit www.ARINGO.com today to check out free resources and schedule a complimentary consultation.