Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Road to Business School: Getting the Most Out of It

The Road to Business School is shifting into high gear. We’ve made stops in London, Atlanta, and Dallas, and tonight (Tuesday, August 9) we’re moving on to Chicago. Personally I was able to make it to London and will be rejoining the tour on the west coast. Here are my suggestions on how to get the most of the series.

Get to know the MBA. You may have one or more friends or mentors who have been through the MBA process. Their perspective is valuable, and if you haven’t tapped into it yet, that’s worth doing as soon as you’re getting serious about a business degree.

But there are some respects in which it’s superior to talk with admissions officers and alumni representing MBA programs. First, admissions staff are more knowledgeable about their programs. By challenging yourself and them on the reservations you have the general MBA path or a specific one, you can refine your decision-making process and maybe even your career plans. One example from London: a number of attendees at London had assumptions about what was a “normal” geography to apply from vs. studying vs. working afterward. The variety examples in the room quickly proved that any plan was “normal,” as long as it was logical for that particular applicant.

Get to know business schools. You might already have a laser target on a very small number of business schools. I’m not going to try to talk you out of that perspective, which may be well informed. Regardless, try speaking with some programs about which you’re less knowledgeable. You’ll want to avoid asking overly obvious questions, or making inquiries that are answerable through a simple web search. One safe and easy topic to discuss is a school’s culture. The more you talk to business schools, the better you will get at understanding their perspective and relating to it.

Don’t forget to talk a little bit about yourself. It’s amusing that prospective MBAs, who have a reputation at times for egocentrism, tend to speak to admissions officers at networking events such as Road without mentioning much about themselves. Sure enough, you won’t be able to conduct an interview at a networking event, and if you appear eager to try to do so, you’ll come off as unpolished. But mentioning a little bit about yourself and why you want an MBA goes a long way. It makes you more interesting and helps admissions officers help you.

For information on where the Road to Business School is headed next and who will be there, see Whether you’re headed abroad or next door, we’re here to help you succeed on the journey.

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