How to identify the right business school for yourself?
One of the most important and commonly asked questions for a potential MBA candidate is to figure out which schools one must target. The most common advice you will get is not to put all your eggs in one basket to increase your chances of getting in a business school. A standard practice is to pick 5-6 schools – 2 dream schools, 3 meets expectations and 1-2 safety school.
While it is not a wrong practise, it still does not give you any answers on which schools to pick. Do you look at the rankings? Do you see employment stats? Or should you just follow the footsteps of a family member? There are so many good school all across the world that one can easily get overwhelmed.
I am going to solve the conundrum while keeping it simple and direct.
# Ranking – Picking a school only for its ranking is like picking a bigger-number shoe that might not fit you. No doubt that highly ranked schools open many doors for you, but the right school will give you the right job and boost your success manifold than a wrong one. Applying to a school just for its brand is a recipe for disaster. You might end up wasting time, money and resources at the application stage itself. Read ahead for better criteria, after which you may consider ranking.
# Geography – Your preferred geography could single-handedly guide your school selection. If you want to move to Canada in the long-term, the best bet will be to study in a Canadian school (unless you already have worked, studied or lived there!). Now I am not saying it is not possible that your job takes you to one or more countries which are different from where you pursue MBA. But if you have a target geography where you want to live, why not go cut-short your steps to get there. Many people pick educational courses in the country they want to move to.
# Industry – It is important to have clarity on your preferred industry of work to be able to pick the right school. For instance, if you want to work in Management Consulting, Insead or Kellogg would be more fitting for you. But say you were already in Consulting and want to transition to Finance, LBS is better suited to help you make the desired change.
# Target Companies – Most big names hire from almost all the best schools, so you might think this is filter is a bit extreme. Nonetheless, if you have that level of clarity (which not many have!) as to which specific companies you are targeting, it makes sense to look at where those companies recruit from the most. You might want to apply this filter after you have already applied the ones above.
# Scholarships – For some people money is a humungous factor in their decision making. If you plan to rely on scholarships and loans, then it is imperative that you pick schools where you can secure the required funding either from or outside of the school.
# Culture – Often most ignored criterion, but it becomes quite important in identifying the right school, especially if you are targeting the top ones. Your cultural alignment with the school will give you a unique advantage over other applicants. A thorough research on the school will give you more insights into what is apt for you.
These points will go a long way in helping you in your school selection. One size does not fit all, so it is of utmost importance that you make the right choice for yourself.