Are you a first-time applicant to b-school? Do you want to find out how to identify which b-schools are the right schools for you? Competition for spots at the top 10 business schools is increasing each year.
Applying to the right b-schools can make all the difference in your admissions chances.
So, in this daunting landscape where 80% to 90% of qualified MBA applicants do not get into their target b-schools, how can you ensure that you’re applying to the right MBA programs?
Invest adequate time in the pre-application process to avoid the top three mistakes that derail MBA applicants:
– Not having a compelling reason why you want an MBA,
– Applying to the wrong schools, and
– Not applying at the right time.
This is the second in a three-part series that shows you how to avoid these common missteps.
In this second part of the series, we’ll focus on how you can apply to the right b-schools for you.
How To Choose the Right Target B-Schools
One of the most important steps in the b-school process is applying to the best schools for you. This list will be different for everyone, but if you take a formulaic approach to building your list of target schools, you will heighten your chances of getting accepted.
Compiling your list will include three steps: Create, Categorize and Finalize.
Create A Target List of B-Schools
Every school has a unique brand. Look at the brand of the school and consider how it matches your goals.
Consider the school’s acceptance rate and the typical characteristics of the applicants that are accepted, such as GMAT/GRE scores, average GPA, typical length of work experience and type of career background. Create a “wish list” of schools.
Categorize Your Target B-School List
Next, take your wish list and compare your characteristics (such as GPA, GMAT, work experience, etc.) to the class profiles at each school.
From there, you can categorize your list into schools where your profile is higher than the average successful applicant (likely), schools where your profile is on par with the school’s class profile (moderate) and those schools where your profile is lower that the school’s admitted students (stretch).
Assess how you compare to admitted students at the programs of interest. Then, take into account who you are as a person and how comfortable you are with risk. The schools that you apply to will differ based on this appetite for risk.
Focus on programs that will get you where you want to go down the road, but be sure to include “likely” schools as well as “stretch” schools.
Finalize Your B-School List
As you whittle your list by assessing how likely you are to be accepted, there are multiple other variables to consider when developing the target list of schools.
Consider the Best Location For Your MBA
If you wish to work in Europe then you may want to pursue your MBA in Europe. The same can be said for international applicants who wish to work in the US. Getting a job in the U.S. can be easier if you have just completed your MBA here.
While it is true that Business School career offices work hard to attract companies all over the country in order to place their graduating class, differences exist in terms of where graduates end up. For instance, 35% of graduates from Chicago Booth Business School remained in the Midwest while only 2% of Stanford GSB graduates chose the Midwest. 18% of Booth students went West compared to 61% of Stanford GSB graduates who opted to remain on the West Coast.
Take a closer look at the placement data of the schools you are considering to make sure that they are in line with the geography where you wish to work.
International students who plan to return to their home country after graduation do not have to worry about .
Learn More About The B-School’s Culture
Make sure to take time to visit the campuses of the top school’s on your list to attend classes, experience the faculty and their teaching styles and interact with current student to learn about the academic and social culture of the program.
If you can’t visit the schools then take advantage of the information sessions in your city and meet with alumni and current students to learn about their MBA experiences.
Look Into The B-School’s 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.
Look Into Each B-School’s 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.
Pick MBA Programs With The Right Curriculum For You
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 cutting edge the curriculum is, the better your chances of landing a high profile job after graduation.
Apply to B-Schools With The Right 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.
Carefully customizing the list of your target schools will ensure that you boost your chances for admittance and obtain the best fit for you.