Factors to Consider in Evaluating B-School Acceptances
Well, you did it. You got the word. And that word was ”yes.”All those hours you spent on practicing for the GMAT or honing your essay…They were so worth it! Now, you can relax, right?
Well, not so much.
You see, it gets real now. Once the euphoria passes, you’re going to ask yourself some questions. Am I comfortable taking out a $150,000 loan? Do I really want to move to Boston? Is this the right time – or should I push it back a year?
It’s a big decision, life-changing really. Once you’re accepted, business school isn’t an aspiration. It’s a reality. Whether you’re hesitant or itching to reply with a hearty “yes” yourself, it’s wise to step back, consider your options, and confirm this particular school is your best option.
That’s the advice of Stacy Blackman, the founder and managing director of Stacy Blackman Consulting, in her latest U.S. News & World Report column. A Kellogg MBA herself, Blackman understands that your first instinct may not be the right one. Before you make the big decision, she cautions her clients to consider three factors.
First, you should factor in financial incentives. And that doesn’t necessarily mean immediately accepting an offer if you land a scholarship. Instead, Blackman encourages readers to look at the long-term.
“More money from a lesser-ranked school may mean you graduate with little or no debt,” she writes, “but the choice could cost you down the line when it comes to the quality of your network. Within the first few years out of business school, the salary bump that accompanies an MBA with a strong brand will compensate for that initial financial advantage.”
Alternatively, those who don’t receive a scholarship should be coy and play the field, so to speak. “Reach out to the admissions office,” Blackman writes, “reiterate your sincere interest in attending their program, and then ask if it’s possible to be considered for a higher scholarship amount – or any scholarship amount – because you now have another offer of acceptance and financial incentive on the table. If you handle this tactfully, and without mentioning the other school by name, you have nothing to lose.”
A second factor? Career goals. Sure, you probably included specialization in your analysis. But if you get accepted into more than one program, it pays to put them side-by-side, writes Blackman. “Learn what student clubs and resources exist that support your career interests. Find out which companies recruit heavily at the school, and take a good look at the strength of the career services center and alumni. network.” Blackman also considers recruiters to be an invaluable resource. “…call up recruiters and companies you’re interested in to see what they think of the schools you’re choosing between.”
Finally, go with your gut, especially when it comes to culture and fit. And you won’t get that sense from a website or employment report. You need to reach out to the school community with campus visits or conversations with students and alumni – and reflect on these experiences.
“Think about if you feel intimidated or uncomfortable, or welcomed and completely at ease,” she points out. “When you reach out to alumni or students, note if they are eager and quick to answer your questions, or if you have to wait days for a follow-up email or call.”
After that, the call is yours. Fact is, you made it in – and that’s always the hardest part. Now, it’s just deciding what you want – and which school is the best option for helping you achieve your career goals.
Source: U.S. News & World Report