Should You Accept That MBA Admissions Offer?
And you thought getting in was going to be the tough part?
Sure, you spent every spare moment studying for the GMAT. And you crammed a year’s worth of psychoanalysis into your essays. But no one ever tells you what to do after you’ve been accepted. Once the euphoria passes, you have some real questions to ask. Do I have time to wait on the school I really want – or should I take the sure thing? Do I have the leverage to haggle over scholarship money? As you think about your job, home, and routine, you can’t help but ask: Am I really ready to give all this up?
You have options, no doubt. But with options come questions and second thoughts. More accurately, a defining choice rouses uncertainty – or what the kids now call FOMA (Fear of Missing Out). You’re giving up two years – and a steady check – hoping to switch jobs or industries. Is it really worth it? Couldn’t you find what you’re ultimately seeking through other means?
The answers are different for everyone. As with any decision, the process starts with the right questions. And that’s what Chioma Isiadinso provides in her latest blog for Expartus, a leading admissions consulting and personal branding firm that she co-founded. Isiadinso, who previously served as the Assistant Director of Admissions at the Harvard Business School and author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets, outlines four criteria for evaluating your choice: Fit, Career, Community, and Location.
According to Isiadinso, “Fit” means different things to different people. She describes it as “the peculiar intersection of your thoughts and values with the program’s culture and priorities.” To identify whether a school will truly bring out your best, she encourages clients to ask questions like these:
- When you set foot on the campus, do you feel eager? Happy? Full of anticipation? Or do you feel uncomfortable, or even wary?
- What do you feel you can contribute to the program?
- Setting aside academics, what do you think the program can teach you? What do you hope to learn outside of the classroom?
Your program should also possess a track record of transitioning graduates into particular fields, functions, or companies. “You want a b-school that will provide high-level connections into the industry that you’re interested in,” Isiadinso writes. To start, she encourages applicants to review resources like employment reports. However, she also recommends that students further research the program’s faculty, alumni, and capabilities, paying special attention to these career areas:
- What industries have the largest concentrations of recent alumni?
- Which companies recruit at the school each year? Do your top choice companies seek out graduates from this program?
- Are there existing student clubs that support your career path? Do they have a robust schedule of events?
- Have any of the school’s faculty members worked extensively in your desired field?
Third, Isiadinso touts the value of the school community. Make no mistake: Your b-school peers (and alumni) will be key advocates in your network. They will open doors for you. Chances are, they will help fund one of your ventures someday. In other words, the better your network, the better your chances are for success. As you delve into your target schools, Isiadinso urges clients to keep these questions in mind:
- Do students seem supportive of each other?
- Do faculty members make themselves available to students?
- What unique traditions characterize the school? Would you be excited to participate in those?
- How have students characterized their social life?
- Were you impressed with your fellow candidates? Could you see them as great classmates?
Finally, Isiadinso drives home the old real estate dictum: “Location! Location! Location!” It’s no secret: Some industries are clustered in certain locales. Take entertainment, for example, where Los Angeles is drawing tech firms like Google, which are looking to become more involved in content creation. As a result, MBAs considering entertainment should look more closely at programs like UCLA (Anderson) or USC (Marshall). And that applies to other industries too. When it comes to location, here are some questions from Isiadinso to help you clarify what’s important to you”
- Is there a strong business community nearby?
- Does the local market incubate start-ups well?
- Is there a convenient airport? Will you be able to travel easily? Will recruiters be able to reach the school easily?
- What are some cultural attractions that interest you in the local community?
- Does the community support the school, and vice-versa?
For additional questions, along with resources to help answer these questions, click on the Expartus link below.
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