How do I know which school is best for me?

Nov 10, 2010
Tags: Applications, B-School, Choosing the Right School, School Selection

Written by Wendy Flynn, Director of Admissions, Mays Business School, Texas A & M University

Pursuing an MBA is one of the most significant professional, personal, and financial investments you’ll make. It’s critical to select the program that is both a good fit and a good match for your post-MBA goals. Here are three steps to help you determine what school is best for you. 

Create Your Own Ranking: Many candidates look first to the b-school rankings to identify the “best” or top-ranked schools. I recommend a slightly different approach—create your own ranking. Create a matrix of the items that are essential to you in your MBA. This may include things like geographic location, class size, quality of faculty, placement rates, etc. Add information on the student profile (GMAT range, work experience range, etc.) to consider your own profile relative to the kind of student each school is seeking.

Be Your Own Reporter: Once you’ve narrowed your list, it’s time to dig deeper into the data and collect first-hand knowledge. First, tap into the admissions team at each school to seek out a greater depth of information, and to connect to others at the school—faculty, current students, alumni. Ask your contacts to give you an honest perspective of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the school. Look for contacts in your own network who can provide input. Continue to add the information to your personal ranking analysis. 

Conduct Site Visits: Now that you’ve collected information from your primary and secondary sources, it’s time to visit your top choices. This is a critical step. I always tell candidates that selecting a school without visiting first is like buying shoes over the internet. The pictures may look good, but until you walk around—on campus (or in the shoes)—you won’t be able to get a good feel for what you’re buying. Ask yourself, “Is this a place where I can learn and grow—both personally and professionally—according to the goals I have set for myself?” 

In the end, you’ll have a personalized school analysis that reflects both factual data and your impressions from your interactions with the schools. And it’s very likely that you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process. Good luck!