Did you apply Round One to your target b-schools? If so, were you accepted to multiple programs?
First of all, congratulations!
Getting accepted to your target b-school programs is no small feat, particularly when you have multiple MBA admissions offers.
Now comes the hard part.
How do you decide which MBA admissions offer you’ll accept.
Just like an investment banker or management consultant with multiple job offers, you should think about your criteria for choosing an MBA program, especially if you are fortunate enough to be faced with several good options.
After all, you’re going to spend the next two years of your life at this place. If it’s not right for you, it’s best to figure that out beforehand.
You’ve got some time to make your decision, and the holidays can provide a much-need timeout from your everyday routine. Use that time to carefully weigh any MBA offers you’re thinking about accepting.
To help you out in your decision-making process, I’ve outlined four criteria in this blog post (fit, career, community and location) that can help you in deciding which MBA admissions offer is the best for you. These criteria are broad, and encompass many different factors that make up a successful MBA experience.
Don’t take them lightly – think carefully about each one, and be honest with yourself. If you’ve got a bad gut feeling about a program, it’s probably not the right one for you.
Criteria #1: Fit
This one is both the most important and most elusive criterion. “Fit” is an intangible concept- the peculiar intersection of your thoughts and values with the program’s culture and priorities.
It’s hard to define, but it’s so important, and should be your main focus. No matter how prestigious the institution, you won’t be happy there if you don’t feel there’s a good fit for you.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself regarding whether a particular MBA program is a good ‘fit’ for you:
- Does your personality align with the b-school’s overall culture?
- When you set foot on the campus, do you feel eager? Happy? Full of anticipation? Or do you feel uncomfortable, or even wary?
- What do you feel you can contribute to the program?
- Do you have concrete plans for getting involved in campus life?
- Have you truly enjoyed most of the students and alumni that you have spoken with?
- Setting aside academics, what do you think the program can teach you? What do you hope to learn outside of the classroom?
Criteria #2: Career
Just as your personality should fit well with an MBA program’s culture, your career goals should match up well with the b-school’s recruitment capabilities.
You want a b-school that will provide high-level connections into the industry that you’re interested in, and that will be truly dedicated to helping you achieve your career goals.
You can glean a lot of information from annual employment reports published by the business school, as well as any company lists available in the career section of a program’s website.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself regarding whether a particular MBA program is aligned with your future career goals:
- What job functions have attracted recent graduates?
- What industries have the largest concentrations of recent alumni?
- Do you feel like the school’s connections will increase your ability to network in your desired industry?
- Which companies recruit at the school each year? Do your top choice companies seek out graduates from this program?
- Are there existing student clubs that support your career path? Do they have a robust schedule of events?
- Have any of the school’s faculty members worked extensively in your desired field?
Criteria # 3: Community
It’s nearly impossible to get through business school entirely by yourself. You’ll need a support community, and that begins with your fellow MBA classmates, your professors, and the staff at your institution. All of these groups should be eager to help you succeed.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself regarding which b-school has the right community for you:
- Do students seem supportive of each other?
- Is there an environment of negative competition?
- Do faculty members make themselves available to students?
- Does the school have a robust support staff, including career advisors?
- Do you admire the program’s dean?
- Have your interactions with faculty been notably impressive?
- Are you impressed with and intrigued by faculty research?
- Are there a wide array of student clubs to support your interests?
- What unique traditions characterize the school? Would you be excited to participate in those?
- How have students characterized their social life?
- Were you impressed with your fellow candidates? Could you see them as great classmates?
Criteria #4: Location
Location matters in almost every interaction. Sure, we’ve become more global. We’ve become more virtual. But there are still critical hubs of business and community, and it’s important to place yourself in a community that will allow you to thrive.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself regarding which location would be the best for you in business school:
- Is the program’s location relevant to your future career?
- Is there a strong business community nearby?
- Does the local market incubate start-ups well?
- Is there a convenient airport? Will you be able to travel easily? Will recruiters be able to reach the school easily?
- If you have a family, is the location convenient for your spouse or children?
- Can you afford the cost of living?
- What are some cultural attractions that interest you in the local community?
- Do current students appear to enjoy their location?
- Does the community support the school, and vice-versa?
- Would you be able to continue working with community causes that you are passionate about?
Where To Find The Answers You Need
I realize that I just posed a lot of questions in this post.
Each and every one is important, and there are several places you can go to find the answers that you need.
- Campus Visits- The best way to get information is to discover it for yourself. If you haven’t already, visit the campuses that you’re considering to see for yourself what life there might be like.
- Current Students and Recent Alumni– Reach out to current students and recent alumni or ask an MBA admissions official to put you in touch. They can give you firsthand information about the culture of the school, the availability of the faculty, the clubs’ activities, and much more.
- Career Websites– Most MBA programs have a “Careers” section of their website that provides employment statistics for past classes, as well as information about career support resources.
- Industry Research Journals- You can read articles published by faculty members at the institution that you are interested in.
- Local Chambers of Commerce- Search for the Chamber of Commerce website for the local community to research cost of living and learn about local attractions.
- Local Real Estate Listings- Looking at local rental rates can help you determine affordability.
- Trusted Mentors– Talk to mentors in your industry about the MBA program’s reputation, advantages and possible disadvantages.
Using the four criteria outlined in this blog post (fit, career, community and location) can help you make the right choice when you’ve been accepted to multiple MBA programs.
Ultimately, you make the final decision as to which MBA program you’ll choose. But remember that this could be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your career. So take the time to answer as many of the questions I’ve provided you in this post.
Have more questions about the MBA admissions offers? Visit our Facebook page to leave us a question and we will get back to you.
This blog post was later featured in an article on Poets & Quants, “Should You Accept That MBA Admissions Offer?“.