How To Select A Business School That Is Right For You
Last updated on January 3rd, 2013
After all the self-introspection you did to find answers to the most important career-related question in your life ‘Why MBA?’ you must have discovered a new person in yourself!
Now that you are equipped with the checklist – of what B-schools are looking for in their promising applicants, it’s time to think the other way round and select a business school that is right for you!
As we always emphasize, an MBA is a huge investment of your time, effort and money; you can’t afford to pick up just any B-school that grants you an admit. A wrong decision will adversely affect you for life.
So, how to go about the B-school research?
Once again, you need to review your priorities. Think about this!
Do you want a 1-year or a 2-year program?
What is your dream destination – USA? Canada? Europe? Or Asia?
Do the program and living costs fall within your budget?
How much financial assistance will you need and how much are you likely to get from the Business school you’ve shortlisted?
Should you go for a large and diverse classroom program or one with a small class size where you may get personalized attention?
What is your dream career – investment banking? Consulting?
Does you dream company recruit from the B-school you have shortlisted?
How strong and impactful is the alumni network at this school?
How useful are their career and mentoring services?
So, how to select a Business School?
Here are the 6 factors that you need to look for when you select a Business school:
1. B-school Profile Fitment
This is one of the most important factors while selecting a Business school.
If you are going to spend the next 1-2 years of your life, then you better select a Business school that fits your profile and choose a community you’d like to be associated with for the rest of your life.
Some of the factors that contribute to B-school profile fitment include age, work experience & batch diversity.
To maximize your B-school experience, make sure you talk to people from that school – faculty, students & alumni – and get a sense of the B-school culture.
Profile fitment simply means whether your profile is apt for the B-school(s) you are applying to.
Don’t forget the journey matters as much as the destination and making sure your profile is a correct fit for the program is a significant factor for beginning your MBA journey.
To know about choosing a B-school fit for your profile to read our detailed blog on Profile Fitment
2. B-school Location
Factors like post MBA job prospects, cost of living, language barriers & post study visa policies make geography a critical parameter while selecting a B-school.
In 2016, Canada, Singapore, US, Australia & Europe were rated as the most sort after MBA destinations for Indian students.
Canada and Australia were given higher preference by students who were looking to get post MBA work permits while the US was chosen by students looking for better infrastructure & seeking to get into technology companies like Google, Amazon & Facebook. The U.S. is home to some of the greatest B-schools in the world.
The location of your B-school – from continent and country, right down to the city – is extremely important, and plays an important part in your MBA experience as well as your post-MBA opportunities.
Here are 3 points that will help you make a better choice:
1. Identify the countries and cities, where you wish to work and settle after your MBA.
2. Get in touch with Students & Alums of the particular B-school to find out which companies hire MBA grads, career opportunities available to MBA grads and post-MBA experience.
3. If you have relatives/friends staying in a particular country, you may want to look at schools in that region as this may impact your cost of living.
To know more you can take a look at our detailed blog on Selecting a B-school based on Geography
3. 1-year vs 2-year MBA Program
A 2 year MBA is ideal for candidates looking to change career paths or are unsure about what specialization to take up. A two year MBA gives you ample time to make mistakes, learn new things and finally make up your mind about your area of specialization
While a one year program is more suited for people who are sure about their post-MBA goals and is ideal for people with more than six years of work experience as it would reduce their opportunity cost.
Here are some of the factors that you need to consider before choosing between a one year and a two year MBA:
1. Current experience
2. Social responsibilities (read marital status/kids)
3. Post-MBA career options
Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both the programs in our detailed blog on How To choose Between a 1 year and 2 year MBA program.
4. B-School International Ranking
Don’t be guided solely by the international ranking of the school – do your research; secondly, make sure you understand the ranking parameters and methodology before you select a Business school.
Rankings merely tell you whether a particular B-school you are applying to falls in the Top 5, Top 10 or Top 20, based on which you can make a wise selection.
Before you select a Business school make sure you go through our detailed blog on How to choose the Right B-school Based on rankings.
5. Specialization Offered
Specialization is one of the most overlooked factors in the process of B-school selection.
It is essential that you are clear about your post-MBA career goals and make sure that the MBA program you have selected is the best-suited for this.
Here is the list of the most popular MBA specializations in no particular order:
A specialization in Finance involves the efficient and effective management of money (funds) in such a manner as to accomplish the objectives of the organization.
The marketing department plays a crucial role in any organization as they are responsible for bringing in new businesses, generating leads, creating brand awareness and increasing the company’s revenue.
- Human Resources
HR is a management function that deals with possibly the most valuable resource of an organization which is the human resource. A specialization in HR helps you understand how to hire, manage and retain workforce within an organization in an organized manner.
- Supply Chain/Operations Management
Supply Chain/operation is a process by which a company converts raw materials, labor, and capital into a final product or service. The supply chain and operations management will teach you how to manage the flow of resources between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet requirements of customers or corporations.
- International Management
A specialization in International Management will help you hone the skills needed to meet the challenges of doing business internationally and to formulate effective management strategies in today’s globally competitive environment.
A specialization in consulting enables you with the expertise needed to provide solutions to specific problems or challenges faced by the organization or take charge of projects that may be beyond the capacity of the internal staff.
For more information on MBA specializations, read our blog on How to choose the right MBA college based on specialization
6. B-school specific information
Now that you have shortlisted a few B-schools based on Geography, profile fitment, course duration, and specialization. It’s time to get into specific information regarding each B-school.
To further narrow down on your final B-school selection take a look at Specific B-school Insights for top Colleges across the Globe.
All these are very subjective decisions that you need to make on your own. And these can be made effectively only if you have done sincere and thorough research on the schools as well as your own goals.
Are you wondering which top B-school you can get into? Let us help you!
Get your Profile Evaluated!
All good international MBA programs are unique in one or the other way. Unlike Indian schools, international B-schools give a lot of importance to candidate-school fit. The right fitment is a win-win for both – you and the B-school. So, you need to fish into the huge pool of business schools out there to hook the best possible option for you!
There are basically three categories of B-schools:
1. Dream school
2. Stretch school
3. Reach school
Let’s say you have 680 on the GMAT, 3.2 GPA and 4 years of work experience in IT.
A Dream school is one which is highly ranked and very reputed world over. It could be a school such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or London Business School. The brand equity of these schools itself is so prestigious, that getting into it is like a life time achievement! But if you have a 680 on the GMAT with a 3.2 GPA and above average work experience, these schools will most probably be out of reach for you. Yes, nothing is impossible, but given the level of the competition, it will be extremely hard for you to gain an admit into such a school.
A Stretch school is one that you could get into if you put in the right efforts. It may not be an Ivy League school, but still a very reputed one with lots of credentials. Considering the above example, schools like Kenan-Flagler, Tepper, Emory are among the stretch schools.
A Reach school is one that is within your reach with your current profile. Other things being equal, considering the above example, Krannert, Kelley, Cox, Rotman, Manchester, and University of Cape Town GSB are some of the reach schools.
An ideal shortlist will have a mix of Dream, Stretch and Reach schools, with some applications for Round 1 and some for Round 2.