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Which MBA Programs To Apply To (#NoRegrets guaranteed)

Choosing which MBA programs to apply to should be a breeze...right? 

If making the decision to get an MBA was difficult for you, you better buckle up. Knowing you want an MBA is the easiest step in the admissions process. It’s the reasons behind getting the MBA and deciding where to go that can be more intimidating. But don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.

When choosing which MBA programs you’d like to apply to, some key factors to consider are:

  • Location
  • Class size
  • Teaching style

→ Location

Although considering a business school’s location seems obvious, we often interact with applicants who overlook an MBA program that may be a great fit because it’s not in their ideal geography. It’s not uncommon for applicants to have geographical restrictions due to family or other personal reasons… but if there is nothing tying you to a location, it’s in your best interest to be open-minded.

Business school is two years, and while the northeast and midwest winters can be rough, those two years go by very quickly. And despite what many applicants think, the location of your MBA program may not have a huge impact on your post-MBA job search. What we’re trying to say is, if you’re avoiding choosing certain business schools because you believe you’ll wind up living in that climate long-term, you might be making a big mistake. Post-grad job opportunities extend far beyond the area surrounding where you went to school.


→ Size

Class size is a factor that we suggest giving a heavier weight than location when choosing a business school. When determining the best business school for you, ask yourself the following questions: What kind of experience do you want? Would you thrive in an environment where you know all of your classmates on a first name basis? Or would you be better served by a program that offers you a larger alumni network? 

If you’re looking for a more close-knit, personal experience then perhaps a program with a smaller class-size is ideal. But remember what they say about living in a big city: A place is only as big as you allow it to be! When choosing an MBA program, in addition to looking at the overall class size, also look at how the school structures its program as there may be other opportunities to form close-knit relationships through sections, cohorts, or learning teams.


→ Teaching Style

Another important factor in finding the right MBA programs is teaching method. Some business schools teach all classes in the case-study method and others have a mix of case-study and lectures. Think back to your undergraduate experience and consider which learning style would be most comfortable and/or challenging for you. Also, take a look at the course catalogs of the schools you’re interested in. For example, if you’re dream is to run a non-profit organization, see what courses are offered that will help you achieve that goal. Does the program offer other opportunities outside of the classroom (like sitting on a non-profit board) that will better prepare you for your goals?


How to Choose Business Schools

Now that you know what elements to keep in mind while choosing the right business school program, you can begin the process of whittling down your application list. Stick to the following formula and you’ll be able to create a list of business schools you’d be happy to attend.

  1. Do your research
  2. Visit schools
  3. Create a strategy

→ Do Your Research

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t just create a list of MBA programs you’ve heard of and call it a day. In the modern world, we have the luxury of being able to do research online for free. There is a wealth of knowledge about different business schools just a few clicks away. Use this to your advantage!

While a school’s reputation should play a role in your decision, it shouldn’t be the only factor. Don’t forget what we just said about the location, size, and teaching style! We know it can be hard, but try not to become fixated on rankings when there are many equally, if not more, valuable things to consider when finding the right MBA program for you.


→ Visit Schools

One of the most important tasks that will help you choose which MBA programs to apply to… VISITING! While it’s also helpful to check out the school’s website and attend local admissions events in your area, nothing beats paying the campus a good ol’ drop-in. Take a tour, observe a class, stroll around the campus, and chat with anyone and everyone. 

In the case that a visit isn’t feasible, we would recommend you connect with current students and recent alumni to get a feel for the environment. This is much easier than it sounds. Campus leaders will often have their email addresses on their club’s website, and the admissions office is normally willing to connect you with a student. 

Whichever route you go, we recommend setting up short informational calls (no more than 20 minutes – MBA students are busy people!) with at least two students or recent alumni. Most students will be very honest about their experience, so don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.


→ Create a Strategy

Now’s the time to crunch some numbers and strike a balance between your dreams and reality. After your research and school visits, you should have a pretty clear idea of where you want to go for your MBA. If you are worried that you don’t fit the mold of your dream program, that’s okay. Remember that schools are looking for diversity! 

In the case that your test scores and undergrad GPA aren’t quite up to par, that’s still okay. Classify that program as a “Reach School” and be sure to have a back-up. It’s a wise decision to apply to a couple reach programs, a few that seem like a natural fit, and a couple safe bets. 


Always remember that using an admissions consultant will greatly improve your chances at getting accepted to your target schools. If you have glaring weaknesses in your applicant profile, not enough time, a non-traditional background, or just need someone to help you stay on track, an expert helping hand could make all the difference.


MBA School Choice

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