Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Social Scientist
GRE 330, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
INSEAD | Mr. Consulting Fin
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. NYC Native
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Tepper | Mr. Leadership Developement
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Athlete Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Education Consulting
GRE 326, GPA 3.58
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0

How To Know If Your Target B-Schools Really ‘Fit’ You

A Flexible or Fixed MBA Curriculum

Some business schools offer tremendous flexibility in their core curriculum for an MBA degree. That’s true of Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. But as a student you need to be prepared to make choices from day one and a consequence of breaking up an incoming class to provide that flexibility often means that social bonds can suffer and there is more limited ability to share experiences. In contrast, Harvard, Tuck and Darden have mandatory core courses that everyone must take. The downside is obvious. If you’ve already had a lot of experience in a discipline, such as finance or marketing, you’ll be bored in those basic classes. But you will get to share your knowledge with classmates eager for it. In this scenario, the administration is obviously setting the agenda with the upside being a more common experience for everyone in the class and the likelihood of a stronger social bond with your classmates.

A Deep & Varied Selection of Electives or More Limited Choices

Obviously, a larger school is going to offer you a significantly larger portfolio of courses. If you want to dive really deep into a subject matter, you need to make sure that the school’s course catalog has the kind of classes you need to build your personal expertise. “Most important is the number, quality and relevance of elective courses available at a given school,” adds Bauer. “If you can’t easily chart a two-year curriculum of core and elective courses that aligns perfectly with your post-MBA goals, then you should consider other schools with a better fit.

While most business schools have outgrown the disciplines for which they are known, including Wharton in finance and Kellogg in marketing, you’ll still find far more opportunities in finance at a Wharton and far more marketing courses at Kellogg.

And then there are a host of other cultural attributes that are much harder to discern. Those questions are best answered by reading as much as you can about the schools you target, visiting the campus, and spending some time with a few students. “There is just no substitute for soaking up the atmosphere on campus, chatting to students, sitting in on a class,” emphasizes Diarte Edwards. “We see candidates who visit schools and come back even more inspired and passionate about their MBA plans, and others who are turned off by a particularly school – often a gut feel that the culture of the community is not right for them. It could be too competitive or too laid back, too monocultural or too impersonal or even too intense.”


There are no right answers. There are only the right answers for you.  A new study by the Graduate Management Admission Council showed that there are interesting differences in cultural preferences based on generational values. Older generations are more likely to prefer smaller class sizes, a teaching orientation, individual emphasis, egalitarian professors, a casual environment, and loosely connected community. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to prefer, though not necessarily a majority, a competitive environment, large class sizes, research orientation, team emphasis, more authoritarian professors, a formal environment, and a close-knit community (see below). Each of these cultural dimensions of an MBA experience are all about ‘fit.’

Prospective Student Preferences for Business School Culture


Source: 2015 GMAC Prospective Student Survey

Source: 2015 GMAC Prospective Student Survey

You can pick up on some of these issues with that campus visit, chats with current students, as well as your interactions with the school’s admission officials. “The admissions process is another good indicator of the priorities of a school,” says Symonds of Fortuna. “Did the school want to find out about your personality, your values and what matters to you? Or did they rely on an impressive resume and influential recommendations to make their decisions? Selectivity is important – you want to be surrounded by a smart, challenging and diverse group of individuals who will broaden your horizons – but not make you feel that you are a social misfit who has a hard time fitting in. One of our former HBS coaches at Fortuna commented that when she was working in admissions, if the school felt that the candidate was a better fit for GSB, however great they were, they could get dinged.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.