How to Find Your Best-Fit Business School Program

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There’s no question—when you set out in search of a business school program, you’ve got your homework cut out for you. While you can narrow down programs based on rankings and reputation, finding a business school program that’s positively the right fit for you requires more research and self-reflection. Visiting schools in person is a great first step in getting a feel for a program, but even if you can’t do that, there are steps you can take from afar to find your best-fit business school program.

What do you want out of a business school program?

The ideal business school program won’t look the same for everyone. People have their own personal and professional reasons for pursuing a b-school education, and there are many variables to consider. Figuring out your unique must-haves in a program is an important first step when starting your search, since it will lead you in the right direction. It’s easy to let general perceptions, reputations, and rankings of programs get in the way of this self-discovery process, but set those aside (for now). From curriculum to the school’s culture and beyond, figure out what you truly want out of a b-school education, and hone in on programs from there.

Trying to decide between a generalist or specialist business school program? These steps can help.

Understand your academic needs

At this point, you’ve probably figured out a thing or two about your learning style and study habits. Before deciding on a business school program, you need to have an understanding of your academic needs and the learning environments you excel in. Are you someone who fares well in large classes, or do you perform better when there’s a lower student-to-faculty ratio with more one-on-one attention? When thinking about program formats (e.g., in-person or online), be realistic about whether you’re able to study independently or if you need more structure to thrive. And don’t forget to think about what resources you’ll have access to outside the classroom. Determine how important support services, such as an on-campus writing center, are to you.

Consider your career goals

Part of the pressure in finding the right business school program is knowing that it can have long-term implications for your career. But if you consider how different factors will affect your career trajectory, you can set yourself up for success. For example, the location of a program is important, as it can impact your connections, internship placement, and career opportunities once you graduate.

Beyond location, think about what industries or even companies you’re interested in. Look at alumni from b-schools of interest and see where they’ve ended up. If a school has a history of placing students in a specific industry or at a particular company, that’s important to know, as it gives you insight into potential job prospects and career paths. But even more importantly, if those alumni are at a company where you’re seeking employment and they become part of your network, their referrals can be crucial in landing your dream job.

Curious about possible career paths with an MBA? See what’s possible.

Consult past and present students

Current students and alumni are some of the most valuable resources you can consult in the business school selection process. While you can find out basic details about a business school program by exploring its website and talking to admissions representatives, past and present students can offer a first-hand account of their experience with the program. If a visit to the campus isn’t possible, track down an admissions officer and ask for contact information of current students and alumni. Before you get in touch with them, make a list of questions to ask. But don’t just ask about the program—ask about their priorities and professional aspirations to see how they align with yours. If they’re like-minded, with similar preferences and goals, it could be a clue that you’re on the right track to find the right business school program for you.

Find the right business school program

Finding the right business school program comes down to your unique background, preferences, and aspirations. While only you can make this decision, we’re here to help. Check out our search tool to see which programs best meet your needs. Visit Program Finder today to learn more.

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