All right, admittedly this is one of our cheesier concepts, but let’s get right to it. When you’re figuring out which school is the right fit for you, you should be examining these critical criteria:
Get it? “Cheesy concept”? “Critical criteria”?
We can clearly get some mileage out of this.
OK OK OK, we’ll give it a rest. 😀
We jotted down those four words on a slip of paper about a year ago, meaning to explore them in a series of posts here on the blahg… and then the note got buried under stacks of essays, and we forgot about it. Until cleaning out the cobwebs recently, when we were all, “Hunh, not bad, not bad, there’s some value here.” And we put it aside to write about it.
And then about a day later, in studying the Chicago Booth website again, in preparation for our annual update to our guide to their essay questions, we realized that – doh! – Booth has nearly the same stuff! Their “Criteria” page lists out three of the four!!
Wow! We thought we were all original ‘n stuff! Creative, in fact!
They’ve got Career, Curriculum, and Community as specific criteria that they use to evaluate their candidates.
We actually came up with these “4 Cs” as a way for candidates to evaluate the schools. Reading that page on the Booth site, we totally understand where they’re coming from – and we do recommend that you study it, if Booth is on your list.
What we’ll suggest as well is that you can use these specific dimensions to determine which MBA programs might be the best fit for you.
The question of “school fit” goes two ways. The Booth Criteria define for them what they’re looking for, when they decide whether or not a BSer is a good fit for them.
What you need to do when selecting your targets is to decide if a school is a good fit for you.
This is why we’re not so keen on the rankings. Rankings are a great start in terms of chunking out the universe of possibilities. But truly, in order to know whether you’ll get the most out of your MBA experience, by being in an environment that’s right for you, you need to first understand YOUR OWN priorities, and then match those up against what a particular school offers.
We often get people crossing schools off their list once they learn more about them. That’s the most valuable outcome of all, frankly. Wouldn’t it suck to get accepted to a school only to discover that it’s not right for you? That’s why being selective is so important.
Your first step, then, is to figure out what you care about in these categories.
- Decide on your career goals. Once you know those, you’ll be better able to choose schools that specialize in that sector.
- Evaluate the curriculum. All schools offer a similar menu, but when you drill down into the specifics – the courses, the professors – there are dramatic differences. You’re not just getting an MBA, you’re getting an education. See which school gets you most excited to learn.
- Experience the community – not just on campus, but the surrounding area. There’s a vast difference in lifestyle between Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Understand the culture. Each one is different. How do you feel when you interact with the students? What sense do you get from the alumni? This is not something you can outsource. You need to do your homework yourself.
This is why campus visits are so helpful, but they’re not technically mandatory. You can be an educated consumer of the different MBA programs without traveling to each one. It requires effort though, and you need to know what your own priorities are first.
Once you know why you’re applying to a school, it becomes a helluva lot easier to present yourself in your pitch to them in a way that will make them take notice. It will be significantly easier for you to demonstrate that YOU fit with THEM if you know the reasons why THEY are a fit for YOU.
So, h/t to Booth, for articulating this so well! We didn’t mean to be copycats!