I’ve narrowed my search to a few b-schools I’d like to visit. What key questions should I ask during my visit?
Oct 3, 2011
B-School, Choosing the Right School, MBA, School Selection
Written by Stephen J. Skripak, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and MBA Program Director, Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech
There are a lot of great MBA programs in the world, but of course you can attend only one. Most offer similar course work, dedicated faculty with deep research and/or industry backgrounds, a nice campus, and support for your job search. How, then, to choose? As I tell my students when they’re trying to decide between job offers, in the end it comes down to one short, simple word: Fit.
But how does one assess fit?
Perhaps you are looking for a very specialized plan of study, such as an MBA paired with a simultaneous degree in an engineering field. In that case, you’ll want to explore how open programs are to you expanding your studies in that direction and how they work with partner departments on campus to assist students in making it happen. You might even look for established cooperative programs between colleges.
On the other hand, you might be looking for placement into a particular field, in which case you’d clearly want to ask about the recent placements of each MBA program into that industry or career track.
Most of that information, though, can be obtained in advance through discussions with the admissions offices or reviewing websites. When visiting the campus, the key is to investigate the sense of community in the program; you’re about to spend two years on a campus and will probably retain many lifelong friends from your days as an MBA student.
- Ask to talk to current students and explore their experiences in the program.
- Ask about alumni involvement. Do the alumni leave and never look back, or are they engaged in things like mentoring current students or guest lecturing in MBA classes?
- Take a tour of the campus and be observant. Is there a sense of energy and an “esprit de corps” among the student body? Can you see yourself spending almost two years of your life in this environment—and loving it?
The key to being happy with your choice: Know what makes you tick and find a program with matching characteristics. Every campus and every MBA program has its own personality. Finding the one that most closely matches your own is critical to enjoying your years as an MBA student.