With Round 2 results out, many candidates are now making their final decisions regarding which school to attend. We have seen an increase in decisions recently posted to MBA DecisionWire. As such, we’re dedicating this week’s admissions tip to help applicants remember what’s important when it comes to making that final decision regarding which school to attend.
An MBA Degree Is A Means To An End
The MBA is designed to help you accelerate or redirect your career. With that in mind it is important to select the program that will best serve your career aspirations. Examining the career reports of the schools to which you were admitted will be important. Do the companies you are targeting for post-MBA employment recruit directly on campus? If so, do they recruit in numbers, or are their opportunities only available to a select few? If the companies you are interested in are not directly recruiting, does the school have resources available for you to engage those companies? It might also be worthwhile to explore the alumni networks of the schools you were admitted to and see if alumni are well represented in your target industry or firm as well as your target geography.
Weighing Short Term v. Long Term Financial Benefits
Some candidates will have received a form of scholarship to complement their positive admissions result(s). Clearly this helps tip the balance in favor of the school(s) that offers this financial incentive. Some of those scholarships also come with additional advantages that the school(s) provide. You might be considered at the top echelon of students at that program. This is an achievement that you can add to your résumé, which helps particularly with schools that have adopted a “Grade Non-Disclosure” policy. That all being said, when considering a financial award in your decision, make sure to keep a long term outlook in mind. While a $50,000 award is very tempting in the short run, in the long run it is much less significant when measured against the opportunities a program can provide.
If you do receive a scholarship offer from one school, but would rather attend another, you might consider approaching the second school and ask if they would be able to match the offer. There is really little risk or downside in doing this; the school cannot rescind their admissions offer based on this request. But if you do pursue this, be polite and remain realistic.
‘Fit’ is a word used a lot in MBA admissions, and rightly so. You are committing one to two years of your life to the MBA experience; you want to attend a program that you will enjoy, a program in which you will engage and in which you can excel. Whether it is the teaching style, the approach to team work in and out of class, it will be important to make sure you are choosing a program that seems right for you. Networking, which is an important part of the business school experience, will also be more effective when you are in a program you enjoy. An issue related to fit, is the location of the school. Will you thrive in an urban environment which will provide some great advantages and distractions, or will you prefer an environment which is solely focused on the MBA experience? You should also consider the size of the student body. Do you want to be in a large program which is going to have a greater variety of resources for those pursuing less common interests, or would you prefer a smaller, more intimate environment where you will know everyone in the program by the time you graduate?
Don’t Focus Too Much On Rankings
Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the importance of rankings. Part of your application strategy was very likely based on this premise. That being said, there are quite a few leading MBA programs that can be ranked higher than another school for one candidate, but lower for another candidate who has different aspirations. For example, MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg and London Business School are all terrific programs, and if you were admitted by all three you have a very difficult decision to make. Whether one is ranked higher than another in a specific ranking matters little at this stage; it ultimately comes down to which program best serves your goals, and which program appears to be the better fit – enabling you to make the most of the experience.
Contributing to and using MBA DecisionWire
After you finally make your decision, you can look forward to a terrific and transformative experience. And, don’t forget, once you’ve decided on where to enroll, add your decision to MBA DecisionWire. We hope others who are still making their final decisions can use MBA DecisionWire in order to see how others’ are making decisions.