You already know that applying to the right MBA program can set you up for success in your career.
The program you choose needs to be aligned with your career goals.
This will allow you to gain the experiences that will benefit you the most in the future.
But choosing an MBA program can be a time-consuming and stressful experience, as the decision you make will impact your life for years to come.
Every applicant has unique factors contributing to their decision making process.
Here are a few tips that should help you narrow your list down and choose the right MBA program.
In this article, we’ll show you how to choose an MBA program using seven tips that will help you make the right choice.
Let’s get started.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Location
Most MBA graduates end up staying in the same region post-graduation.
So before making your final choice consider whether you would be happy staying in the same city, region or state, after you finish the degree.
Business school career offices reach out to companies all over the country in order to place their graduating class, but due to location, it is often the companies closest to the business school that will show up on campus for recruitment.
Similarly, it is easier to find internships in companies located closer to campus, if only because they have more contact with the student body.
Take a closer look at the local industry, and whether it has the kind of jobs you would want.
Otherwise, closer to graduation, you will find yourself flying all over the country, spending money and time interviewing for jobs in other cities.
International students, however, might not consider location important if they have plans to return to their home country after graduation.
Class Size is More Important Than You Think
The class size determines the type of experiences you have in a business school.
Small classes may provide more leadership opportunities, a tighter knit community, and a more inclusive business school experience.
Larger class sizes might attract more on-campus recruiters, present more networking opportunities, and provide a larger alumni network post-graduation.
Consider your post-graduation goals, and then think about the class size that will work best for you.
Smaller programs will offer you more guidance and support, which can be very useful during your job search.
A larger program, while presenting more on-campus recruitment options, might not have enough support staff to help each student find a job.
Calculate the Actual Cost of B-School
Many applicants only consider the tuition fees when comparing business school costs.
The actual cost of a business school includes more than just the tuition fees.
Your actual cost will include housing, living expenses, and travel expenses for any trips to and from home or trips for job interviews at the end of the program.
Location plays a large part in determining the final cost of your MBA, since different cities and states have varying costs of living.
Depending on the program you choose, and the strength of your application, you might be eligible for merit-based financial aid.
You can also apply for a loan, although some schools offer need-based financial aid as well.
Should you opt for a loan, you will also need to compare your earning potential post-graduation with the loan payments you’ll have to make.
Look into the Career Support Services
When choosing an MBA program, keep in mind that you need to gain more than just a strong academic education.
You’ll also need to focus on developing yourself personally and professionally.
Look into the career support services that various programs offers, and choose the one that provides the support and training that matches your interests and skills.
Class size also plays an important role here, as a larger program needs to provide these services to more students and it is easier to feel as though your needs aren’t being met.
At the same time, a smaller program might not have a well-connected career support office, which means you might have fewer opportunities to choose from.
Many applicants ignore this important factor, and end up in a program that doesn’t offer as much career support and guidance as they want.
Research the Alumni Network
The connections made during your MBA will prove to be invaluable in the years following graduation.
When you choose an MBA program, you are also choosing the potential network you will be a part of.
Therefore, the alumni network should be an important consideration when choosing an MBA program.
Look into the school’s alumni network.
Does the alumni office keep them engaged?
Do students get a chance to meet alumni during their time at the business school?
What opportunities will you have to meet the alumni before and after graduation?
Apply to a school that offers you the best chance at developing a strong network of supporters and mentors through the alumni community.
Review the Curriculum
Obviously, the academics are an important consideration when choosing an MBA program.
The right MBA program should provide you with the knowledge and training you need to move forward in your career.
Before deciding on a program, go through the curriculum and think about what you hope to achieve (academically) while in business school.
Does the curriculum address all of your requirements?
Does it focus on experiential learning?
Does the program present learning opportunities both in and outside the classroom?
The curriculum of your MBA program will form the backbone of all your learning activities during your time in a business school.
The more comprehensive and future oriented the curriculum is, the better your chances of landing a high profile job after graduation.
Explore the Extracurricular Opportunities
An MBA isn’t just about learning in the classroom, it also provides you with opportunities to learn through different extracurricular activities on and off the university campus.
Before you make your final choice, look at your resume and list the skills and experiences you would like to add to it.
Develop a list of the extracurricular activities you would be interested in that will help you achieve this.
These should address specific personal and professional improvements you wish to see in yourself.
You might be interested in taking on leadership roles, networking, traveling abroad, or joining a student club.
Pick a program that will help you meet these extracurricular goals as well as your academic goals.
While it’s given that an MBA will help you advance your career post-graduation, these seven tips will help you choose a program that provides you with the relevant experiences you need in order to excel beyond that.
Making a list the programs you’re interested in, and highlighting the ones that meet all your requirements, will make your choice easier and help you focus on the programs most suitable for you.
But if you’re lucky enough to receive offers from more than one business school, these tips can help you choose the right program.