With so many MBA programs to choose from, how do you pick the right one for you? In other words, which b-schools are the best “fit” for you? “Fit” is established by how well your needs and desires correspond to what a school has to offer. What elements are you looking for in an MBA program? Does School X offer these elements? You also need to look at what applicant qualities School X is looking for. Do you have these traits?
Applying to schools without the proper fit will be a waste your time, effort, and money. Since, if you are not a good fit, you will most likely not be accepted. And if you are accepted and decide to go, you probably won’t get as much out of the program as you could.
Here are three tips to help you find the b-schools that fit you best:
1. Assess your career goals and educational needs. Analyze your work experience and think about what you want your future to look like. Examine the classes, tracks, and research centers at your programs of interest and decide if they match up to your interests and goals. Speak with current students and alumni about their experiences, goals, and work prospects/careers. Do the school’s strengths match up with your goals?
2. Evaluate your qualifications as an MBA applicant. Visit the websites of programs that seem interesting to you and look at their class profiles. Make sure that your GMAT score, GPA, and years on the job are within the parameters set by the school. If they aren’t, you will be less competitive at that school, and will probably be a poor fit.
3. Study the intangibles. Make use of the school websites and student profiles. Can you envision yourself working, studying and learning with these students? If yes, this school could be a great fit for you. Not all schools have the same philosophy and approach to their b-school curriculum. Think about how you learn and determine if their courses will fit your needs. If you can, visit the programs and sit in on classes. If you feel comfortable with the teaching method and philosophy, that’s another point in favor of your fit with the school. Other features – including class size, how approachable the professors are, and the environment of the school (its size, location, etc.) – will also help determine your fit with a specific b-school.
Once you’ve decided what elements are important to you and weighed them all, you can decide how a school will fit you. Keep in mind that fit is relative. Not all of the features that you want in a school are equally weighted, and you will likely be more willing to compromise on some than others. Choosing the programs that are most in line with your personality and career goals can help you avoid a costly mistake – attending a program that does not meet your needs. And careful research up-front will also help you identify programs where your stats and experience make you a competitive applicant – a good fit from the school’s perspective. The goal is to find a program that’s a great fit for you, and where you’re a great fit.
For more tips on applying to the b-schools with your best fit, download our free guide, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One.