Finding The Right MBA Fit
Choosing the right MBA program can be tough.
Luckily, Caroline Diarte Edwards of Fortuna Admissions, has put together a number of factors applicants should consider when deciding which MBA program to attend.
“Now it’s time to do your homework, and that’s where things can get tricky,” Edwards – a former admissions director at INSEAD – writes. “It’s tempting to overly rely on the various MBA rankings, especially at the outset. Sure, they can be useful, but it’s just as easy to be misled by subjective definitions of ‘best schools’ without a strong grasp of their algorithms and methodologies.”
How Long You Study
One of the first factors to consider, according to Edwards, is length of program.
“The duration of your chosen program sets the pace of your studies, as well as the speed of re-entry into the job-market,” Edwards writes. “In terms of intensity, you can expect to spend roughly six hours a day in class during accelerated programs, and roughly half that in standard ones.”
On the other hand, a ‘fast-track’ program can be useful if you’re looking to gain skills quickly.
“Accelerated programs at top schools like INSEAD, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Saïd enable you to get your degree in one year,” Edwards writes. “An MBA from a top US school follows the traditional two-year format, which some candidates prefer for the opportunity it affords to delve deeper over this extended period.”
Where You Study
Location of your program can influence a lot both during your time in school and when you graduate.
For one, applicants should consider the industry where they want to specialize.
“It’s no surprise that London Business School and Columbia enjoy excellent reputations in finance,” Edwards writes. “Schools in California benefit from being immersed in the tech and startup scenes in Silicon Valley. Programs in Asia and Latin America are on the doorstep of the globe’s most dynamic, growing economies, while Europe offers a gateway to fields like biotech, luxury brands and aerospace.”
Julia Gilmore, of Top MBA, advises applicants to consider their personality as well when looking at location.
“If you prefer smaller towns with fewer people, you’d probably be unhappy and stressed in a non-stop, bustling city like New York, and may value the small campus experience offered by, for example, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business instead,” Gilmore writes. “Don’t feel pressured to go for a school with a really good reputation if you know you won’t enjoy living there.”
What Kinds of Opportunities
Of course, when it comes down to it, the MBA is really about progressing your career forward.
Experts say when looking at the opportunities a program can provide, it’s important to reach out and ask questions.
“You want confidence that your favored schools are poised to advance your career aspirations and goals,” Edwards writes. “Talk to alumni and learn about their experiences with the career services team, recruitment events and campus visits from potential employers. Is the career services team proactive in reaching out to alumni networks and personal contacts? Are there opportunities to participate in career treks?”
At the end of the day, Edwards says, prestige and salary can only tell you so much about an MBA program.
“It’s about envisioning the professional you want to become and defining the qualities you care about most in a business school,” Edwards writes. “Your discerning approach and careful research ensure you’re spending your time and effort on schools that will be the best fit for you. Ultimately, the better you get to know the MBA programs of your choice, the greater your chances of acceptance.”