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How To Determine Business School Culture


“I don’t fit in.”

We’ve all felt that way at one point. In high school, your grunge stood out among the preppies. In college, you kept quiet to avoid the PC police’s wrath. At work, eyes would roll as you broached uncomfortable topics with “why” and “how.”

It’s no secret: People thrive when they have a voice and are surrounded by like-minded people. Make no mistake: Any school can claim they are open, rigorous, global, fun-loving, and cutting edge. Like anything, a few people or activities don’t necessarily reflect an underlying philosophy that guides daily interactions, pedagogy, and problem-solving. To truly understand a school’s culture, you need to get involved and make connections.

That’s the advice from Pathik Bhatt, the associate director of interactive recruiting at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Along with handling social media for the school, Bhatt is also completing an online MBA there. In a recent column for Top MBA, he shares how to get your hands dirty and really understand if a school matches your values, interests, and aspirations. Here are a few of his insights:

  • “Meet with Students and Alumni: “…Keep in mind – most students and alumni of top ranked MBA programs will tell you they had a positive experience, because a top school often delivers. Dig deeper and ask about things such as accessibility of professors, how competitive or collaborative classmates are, how often students were willing to get together outside of class. If possible, meeting them in person will let you pick up on body language. You obviously can’t judge the entire program based off  one or two people, but it’s more useful data that you would not get from an email conversation.”
  • “Attend Lectures and Speak with Professors: The business school classroom is the easiest way to get access to some of the brightest minds in business. Just so we’re on the same page, I am referring to the faculty. Most schools will allow you to attend a live lecture as an applicant. Do it! Whether it is online or in person, this will show you what you are signing up for. You can observe the level of interaction between the professor and students, how often people ask questions and how many students are there before and after class socializing. You’ll never know that type of information without being there.”
  • “Go to Information Sessions and Networking Events: “…one of the tidbits I picked up at an information session was that the online program offered by the Kelley School of Business does well in markets with heavy commute times. I could appreciate that as a Chicagoan who often sat in traffic for an hour to travel 20 miles and immediately understood the value of flexibility in a program.”

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Source: Top MBA

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