There’s a lot of business schools out there. There’s a lot of rankings lists and websites, too. You already know that we advocate going to visit the schools you’re interested in. But what if you don’t even know what schools to target? What if your short list of MBA programs has like 100 names on it?
One resource coming up is The Economist’s Which MBA? online fair. The beauty of this is it’s entirely online; you can meet with bschools in your pajamas. This is an opportunity to be introduced to schools that maybe you hadn’t heard of before – which can often offer an excellent MBA education, sometimes for cheaper, and in many cases, with more flexible admissions standards.
When you’re looking for an MBA program, there’s two main angles to begin with:
Which school are you qualified for?
Which school can help you get where you want to go?
The first point speaks to profile. Are your GPA and GMAT scores in line with the school’s averages? Do you have the right amount of work experience? Different schools have different preferences. The BusinessWeek school profiles will give many of these basics, at least for the American MBA programs. (And here’s another post on low GMAT scores since it’s of perennial interest.)
The other angle is just as important: What are your goals and can this school help you achieve them? Different schools have different specialities, some obvious ones like finance and consulting, others much more niche focused like alternative energy or social enterprise. Where do your interests lie? If you figure out what you want to do with the MBA, then that will lead you in a direction of confidence when figuring out which schools can get you there.
When it comes to rankings, don’t get lured in by the hype. If you have examined even a few of those lists, you will have already discovered that each one puts each school in a different spot. How can one school be #X on this list yet #Y on this other one? (We won’t name names.) Sure, you want to go to a school that is noticed by those big publications and appears somewhere on the rankings, but don’t get too caught up in the nonsense.
And finally: Choosing your schools is much more involved than this simplistic process we’ve covered here. This is just a starting point. You need to be VISITING THE SCHOOLS if at all possible, and no matter what you need to be reaching out and talking to people. Get busy with the research; don’t go off of what everyone else is saying. Do your own firsthand reporting and dig into what each school is about. This will take you far in making this very important decision, and it will also serve you well throughout this process (can you say “writing essays”?).
Have fun with it, Brave Supplicant!
* EssaySnark actually doesn’t recommend doing this. Believe it or not, we would suggest that you WEAR A SUIT during your interactions with the school, whether in an online chat, or ESPECIALLY if you have a phone interview. Yes, even if it’s just a phone call! Obviously you’ll want to wear a suit for a Skype session or videoconference but we say, wear one when you get on the phone, too. Why? Because you will carry yourself better. You’ll use more formal language. You’ll have a stronger persona to project. It works the same way as smiling when you’re talking on the phone (called “smiling down the phone”); the person on the other end will be able to feel it.