Deciding If a B-School’s Culture Is Right For You
When deciding on an MBA program to attend, you may consider aspects such as ranking, prestige, and job opportunity. But what about school culture?
In her latest piece, Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, discusses how applicants can measure school culture when deciding on a b-school.
“Defining a school’s culture is a smart strategic move that many applicants overlook,” Blackman writes. “Getting a feel for the prevailing culture will help you decide whether the program fits well with your personality.”
What To Ask Yourself
To determine whether or not a school’s culture is right for you, it may be helpful to start by asking yourself a few questions.
In an essay in The Globe and Mail, Aubrey Chapnick, an MBA candidate at the Sauder School of Business, encourages applicants to ask these questions when weighing MBA options:
- Who am I as a person, what do I value, how do I like to learn and what are my MBA goals?
- What is the reputation of the school that I am applying to, in what industry does it typically place the most people after graduation and how will the types of students that the school likely recruits affect my learning experience?
- What level of competitiveness in the learning environment am I comfortable with and how will that impact my ability to seek help and advice from others?
- What are the guiding values of the school and where does it direct most of its resources? How do the school’s values align with my own values?
- What have been some past academic and professional situations where the environment that I was in significantly affected my ability to perform at a high level? How does what I know about the program that I am applying to compare? Are there any similarities?
It’s important to consider these questions because culture has more of an impact than applicants may think.
Pathik Bhatt, Associate Director of Interactive Recruiting at the Kelley School of Business, says b-school culture is one of the few things that will last past the day you graduate.
“Your business school peers will likely make up a larger part of your network than most other groups,” Bhatt writes for Top MBA. “You will be associating with them very regularly from one to five years depending on which MBA program you’re thinking about pursuing. Then, after you graduate, you’ll be attending alumni events sponsored by the local alumni chapter wherever you live. These connections will be with you now – and for the rest of your life.”
Size and Location
When it comes to school culture, size and location play a large part.
“Smaller business schools and those located in rural settings usually foster a close-knit community feeling,” Blackman writes. “Here, many students live on campus and socialize with fellow students and faculty on a regular basis.”
On the other hand, larger schools in metropolitan cities tend to give off a more competitive and intense atmosphere, according to Blackman.
Regardless of what program you choose, it’s important to ensure that the culture will align with your goals and character.
“Knowing whether you’d thrive in a collegial, teamwork-driven environment, or in a more intense and competitive program is just one question you can ask yourself when gauging ‘fit’ with a particular school,” Blackman writes. “A little research and a hefty dose of self-reflection will help you find which MBA program is the best fit for you.”