If I had a dollar for every time an MBA applicant reached out and asked us which MBA programs are the best “fit” for him/her, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now. I’d be too busy driving around in my Tesla, counting the gold bars on the passenger seat.
That, followed in a close second by “what are my chances at School X” and “wow, why are you so awesome?!” is the most common question we get. And it makes sense, of course. You’re about to give up 2 years of your life (and a large sum of money) on your MBA; you want to make sure you’re going to get the best possible return on your investment.
The good news is: the answer to that question is a lot easier than most applicants think. And here’s how you get to it:
- 1. What is the best possible school you can get into?
- 2. Go to that school.
Yup. It really is that simple. I know, I know – there’s a lot of noise out there surrounding this very topic. People talking about a school’s location, teaching methods, “specialty”, scholarships, etc.
But between you and me, when it comes down to it, none of that stuff really matters in the long run. When you break b-school down to its core value – your potential for future success – the only thing that really matters is going to the best school you can get into. And here’s why:
Brand Name Matters:
Whether it should is a different story. But it does. When a hiring manager or VC guy sees “Stanford” or “Yale” or “Haas” on your resume, it tells them something. And that something is that you must be pretty awesome if you made it into one of those highly selective programs. That brand speaks for itself, and gives you instant credibility.
The people around you matter:
As experienced men and women in the business world, you know by now that the best path to success lies in the team and not the idea. There are TONS of examples out there that prove that. So, naturally, you want to surround yourself with the brightest people you can. Not only because they could be the foundation of a very successful future venture; but because they are going to inspire you and challenge you throughout
business school, helping you grow into a stronger leader when you go back into the workforce.
The extended network matters:
All those smart people in your classes? And all the smart people who took those same classes before you? They’re all going to be out there in the real world when you graduate, in all sorts of companies and roles. And that makes for a very powerful network that can open up a lot of doors for you when you, ya know, need some doors opened.
Of course, “the best school” looks different for everyone. Every applicant has a different profile, different experience, different stats. Find out if your GMAT stacks up for top programs. For some, it is HBS. For others it is Duke. For others it is Yale. Or Olin. Or Anderson. But whatever it is for you, go there. Don’t worry about going to a “marketing program” if you are a marketing guy, or a “real estate program” if you’re a real estate guy. Don’t let scholarship money (or, as we like to call it, a bribe) sway you. This is a long-term play that should impact you for the rest of your career, so you have to think beyond the 2 years you will spend in the classroom. Think about what happens when you graduate.
Just go to the best school you can get into. Period.