Finding the right school is as important as any other aspect of your business school application process. After all you will be leaving behind your comforts to spend 2 years in a completely new environment. There are various reasons why people choose to apply to certain schools but I can speak for all MBAs out there when I say that people should apply to the right school based on characteristics that fit their personal objectives. Here are some characteristics to take into account when finding the right school.
Location: whether you prefer metropolitan cities or small college towns make sure the location ties into your expectations.
Student body: More than half of your MBA learning will come from the interactions with the student body around you particularly with the case based studies and leadership learnings. Therefore it is important that the student body is diverse not only in ethnicity but also in industry backgrounds, age, gender, and work experience.
Curriculum: Try to find schools that fit your style of learning. Many individuals prefer to learn in classroom or lecture settings, many prefer team based or case settings and others prefer a balance of both. Read about the professors (i.e. their past experiences, their teaching techniques, where they stand in their fields of study). Additionally, aim to have an understanding of the type of MBA you desire, whether it is customized (Marketing, Finance, Consulting, etc) or general management because many schools vary in these aspects.
Career placement: Many companies have strong affiliations to certain MBA programs so it is important to check recruiting stats by each school. Depending on what industry, company, or functional role you wish to pursue, this could be a deciding factor in finding the right school.
Personal touch: There is always something endearing about a school that makes you feel like you belong to the community rather than becoming just another face in the crowd. Characteristics ranging from size of the class to receiving that phone call from an admissions staff are just some small things that can truly impact your decision on picking the right school.
These are only a few characteristics to help you get started on your school search. The driving force in finding the right school is to make sure the school has the necessary tools and resources to help you reach your ultimate career goals so make sure you DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Piya Dey, Forte Fellow
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University
MBA Class of 2013