Monday, March 21, 2011

Choosing the right Business School

So you’ve completed and sent off your applications, and now your answers are coming in. Despite your fears and anxiety, the schools are accepting you. Yeah!

But now you have to choose… Do you go with the school in your favorite city? The one highest ranked by U.S. News & World Report? The one that gave you the biggest financial aid package? The one most impressive in the interview? Or the one that felt the best during the Admitted Students Day/Weekend?

No two of us are exactly the same and so our decision-making processes vary. What matters to you may not matter to me. But by conducting thorough research, setting up coffee or phone meetings with current students and alumni, and otherwise collecting all the data and opinion you can – you will help yourself to confidently make the ultimate choice.

For me, culture mattered a lot. I didn’t want to spend two years with my shoulders up to my ears, simply surviving a dog-eat-dog world. I wanted a small school with a friendly, down-to-earth, collaborative environment because this is how I learn best. I also wanted a school dedicated to women leaders and to social entrepreneurship.

I’m a big believer in writing things down. It is not always easy to know thyself, so brainstorming - whether out loud or in my head – and then jotting down key words and ideas really helps. This is how I have always found my way – from articulating and actualizing my first dream job, to making a film, to choosing an MBA program.

Clarity around what matters most to you to can take a lot of the stress out of this decision.

In his landmark 1996 essay in Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter wrote, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Sure, hindsight is 20:20, but taking the time to deeply understand who you are, what matters to you, and what makes you tick can be tremendously supportive in confidently selecting your school.

Rachel Greenberger, Class of 2011
Forte Fellow & MBA Candidate, Babson College

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