Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Narrowing Your Search

Whether you have already decided to pursue an MBA or are still deciding if it is right for you, choosing the right school is a life changing decision. Finding your dream school might seem like an unrealistic goal but I believe we can all find the perfect fit. By focusing on how the program offerings fit your career goals and how the people's interests complement your own, the choices will be quickly narrowed.

My research approach had three main steps. I scoured the internet for all the information I could find, I reached out to current student and alumni and finally I visited the campuses. The Internet has many valuable resources for your search for the perfect school. MBA rankings websites can be a great place to start since there is information on a large number of schools in one place. Business Week and Beyond Grey Pinstripes are two sites I used frequently. The latter is perhaps a little less well known but takes a social, ethical and environmental approach in ranking the programs. I created my own Excel spreadsheet with aggregated data from five ranking websites.

Visiting campus before applying may not be an option but most schools host coffee chats throughout the country. A coffee chat will give potential applicants a chance to meet current students or recent alums and ask any questions about the program. You can also contact current students through most schools websites.

In my experience there was truly no substitution for a campus visit. Most schools will allow you to sit in on a class and meet with students and professors. Each school has a different feel that really can’t be conveyed through a website or mailer. My campus visits played a large part in choosing the University of Texas, Austin. When I thought back about my visits to different schools, it was very easy to imagine myself going to class, studying and having a great experience at UT.
I recommend the following sites for initial research.

Please post a comment with any I have left out or with other tips.

Good luck in your search!

Marisa Kowalsky
Fellow 2012
Goizueta Business School at Emory

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