Posted by AmandaG in MBA
Knowing you want an MBA is the easiest step in the admissions process. The why and where can oftentimes be more intimidating. When determining which MBA programs you’d like to apply to, some factors to consider are location, class size, and teaching style.
Although considering a business school’s location seems obvious, I often interact with applicants who overlook an MBA program that may be great fit because it’s not in their ideal geography. Of course, it is not uncommon for applicants to have geographical restrictions due to family or other personal reasons, however, if there is nothing tying you to a location I challenge you to be open. 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 (but that’s a whole separate article, let’s get you admitted first!).
Class size and teaching style are two factors that I’d consider with a heavier weight than location. 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. However, 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.
By now, you likely know that there are some business schools that teach all classes in the case-study method, and others that have a mix of case-study and lectures. Think back to your undergraduate experience and 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 desire 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?
The most important piece of advice as you select which programs you want to apply to…visit! While it’s great checking out the website and attending local admissions events in your area, nothing beats paying the campus a good ol’ visit. Sit in on a class, stroll around the campus, chat with current students and ask yourself “Can I see myself here?” Of course visiting may not always be feasible, so in the absence of a visit I would recommend you connect with current students and recent alumni to get a feel of the environment. Oftentimes campus leaders will have their email addresses on their club’s website or the admissions office can connect you with a student. Whichever route you go, I’d recommend setting up short informational calls (no more than 20 minutes – MBA students are busy people!) with at least 2 students or recent alumni. Most students will be very honest about their experience, so don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.
August 17, 2017, AmandaG