Over the past couple of months, I’ve been researching and reading about International MBA admissions. One thing that has clearly come up is that an admission to top MBA programs is all about FIT. As an applicant, one must look at his priorities, his career goals among other things that should become the guide for business school selection. This business school is a very important decision considering the unquestionable fact that each international MBA program has its own signature and has something unique to offer. Moreover, in most of the cases, MBA becomes the last formal education in one’s career and is also almost the last chance to make a significant career change. Hence, one should have a clear understanding of one’s expectations from the MBA program and choose the business school that fits them. From the research that I’ve done until now, here are a few parameters that one should consider in his business school selection, as per my opinion. These criteria are from the perspective of an International Applicant and hence some points may not be applicable for non- international/domestic applicants, although this is purely my personal opinion.
Now, I'm kind of short of time and hence I am going to break this topic into 2 parts. I think that there are possibly 9 important criteria that we must use to select a business schools. I am dividing my post into 2 parts with discussing the importance of 3 criteria in this first post. Hope you find it useful.
Here, the choice boils down to choosing between European and US business schools. European MBA programs are typically of 1 year whereas US MBA programs are typically 2 year programs. There are obviously 1 year executive MBA programs in US business schools as well but my focus here is on Full-Time Regular MBA programs. The opportunity cost of being out of full time work is definitely a factor which should be considered while choosing program duration. In my personal belief, people with NO business background are more suited to 2 year programs. People who have worked in business areas and have a business exposure may consider 1 year programs. Moreover, 1 year programs don’t normally have an option to do an internship which might be not be a good thing for somebody thinking of changing careers post-MBA. Internships offer a good platform to know about the industry/company first-hand and hence one gets to know his fit with the industry/company before taking a full-time offer. This becomes especially important considering the fact that MBA, in most cases, will be the last formal education and also, to some extent, a last chance to change careers.
Program duration information is available on the website of respective business schools.
Desired Career Focus
What do you want to do post-MBA? This is the most important question that an applicant must ask while selecting a business school. Different business schools have different strengths. When deciding about pursuing an MBA, one must have a clear understanding of what he wants to do in his professional career. This helps a lot both in securing an admit to desired MBA program and recruiting. Having a Plan B also matters a lot here. We applicants must look out for business schools where our career goals will best be fulfilled.
Caution: As I had described in one of my previous posts, I had talked to an alumni and he suggested that business school is such a dynamic place that student experiences many things on campus. During the numerous networking and other activities, some students normally realize that they want to do something else, other than what they had earlier planned to do in their career. In such situations, it is better to go to a business schools which is generally strong areas. In my opinion, one cannot be sure of all the things in ones’ life. Here comes the Plan B. We should choose a business school where both the Plan A and Plan B should work out nicely.
For information regarding this, in my belief, applicants must look for the Employment Statistics, find out if the Student Club of desired career focus is available and more importantly how active is it? An active student club in the desired career focus is a good signal of the student community’s focus in the area. Read through online forums, there is tons of info out there. Talk to alumni and current students. Do career informational interviews with people in the industry to understand a career option.
Location (Connectivity, Business Hub)
During my personal research, location has come up as one of the most important business school selection criteria. Some have even gone as far as to say that business school is all about Location, Location and Location. Location is useful in 2 senses: (i) where is the school located and (ii) where do you want to work in future post-MBA. The first point i.e. the school location is especially critical to International students. I say this because, International students might not have the network that resident student might already have. Networking is a very very important aspect of recruiting at international business schools and hence, in my opinion, if you are in the middle of nowhere, you might have to travel every now and then to attend a networking event in a relatively distant city. This apart from increasing the expenses, may significantly affect your On-campus MBA experience. Just in case, at least be sure to go to a place which is well connected to everywhere else. My second point above regarding the location where one wants to work is connected to the first point too. In my research, I’ve found that except for few industries, the hiring is more or less local and hence the region where you want to work comes to play a very important role in business school selection.Most business schools put information about their city of location on their website. Research more via Google. Discussion forums on various websites might be useful here.
That will be all for this post. Coming up next are the remaining 6 more important criteria for business school selection. Stay Connected..!!!