This time of the year I am repeatedly asked, “Which schools should I apply to?” Picking the right business school is a complicated and personal process and a key component of our services. However, here are 6 tips:
1) Begin with the statistics: Statistics such as average GPA, GMAT/GRE, years of experience, acceptance rate and starting salary will give you some good benchmarking data and a better idea of which schools could be potential options for you. Of course, these statistics are not the only factor and the whole package matters, but these provide a strong initial guide.
2) Go broad: My average candidate applies to at least 5 schools. Make sure that you have some “reach” schools, some “more likely” schools and some “safer” schools, especially if you want to ensure an acceptance this year. All business schools look to fill their classes with diverse candidates and you cannot always predict which school might need someone who fits your profile. Adding a broad range of schools helps to balance this out.
3) Pay attention to culture: Culture is more than a buzzword and it will be key to having a fulfilling MBA experience and developing lasting long-term relationships. Do you want a small close-knit campus where everyone lives and studies nearby? Are learning teams important to you? Do you consider the entire city your campus? As you talk to alums and visit schools, these are just some of the many questions you should ask yourself while narrowing your list.
4) Look carefully at the curriculum and program offerings: Think about your post-MBA goals carefully and pay attention to whose offerings are the best fit. For example, is a flexible curriculum important to you? Do you thrive with more hands-on opportunities? Is the ability to study internationally important? All schools vary in the degree to which they meet these needs so do your research. Not only will this help you determine which programs will be the best fit, but this research will be critical as you target your application.
5) Explore areas of excellence: Similarly, explore emerging areas of research at each campus. This is particularly important if you have a specific focus. Finding a professor who is working on a project in your area of interest could be a key driver of both your experience on campus and your chances of success during the application process.
6) Consider location: Sure, you can live anywhere after graduation and companies from all over the world will travel to recruit. But for obvious reasons, it is much easier to recruit at schools that are closer geographically. This does not mean you should only consider city schools. Look at which schools your target companies visit for recruitment, what local opportunities are available to candidates and which speakers come to campus.
As an MIT Sloan BS graduate and Wharton MBA grad, I have been helping candidates get into the schools of their dreams with a 96% success rate for over 10 years. Email me today at: email@example.com