Choosing a B-School: Determining What's Important to You

Many factors contribute to making a business school feel like the right place for you. Here are some categories you can begin to examine.

Choosing the right business school is a daunting task, no doubt about that. In today's blog post Linda Abraham offers some categories to consider when deciding which school is right for you.

Last time we talked about how assessing your profile will help you choose a realistic list of schools to apply to. Today we're going to talk about what you are looking for in an MBA program--that is, what's important to you and what's not.

This is a good time to reiterate our recommendation to visit business schools early on in the application process. Doing so will help you see what different programs have to offer and which aspects of the programs are more or less important to you.

For each of the following categories you should decide what is more or less important to you.

  • Academics - What is the structure of the curriculum and what sorts of teaching methodology are used? Does your target program have strengths in particular fields? Weaknesses? Is the program known for being analytic? Technical? Global? Experiential? Are there study abroad options that appeal to you? Can you take courses outside of the business school?

  • Brand - How important to you is it that your MBA program carries weight with its brand? Do your long-term post-MBA career goals require that you attend a well-known, prestigious program?

  • Career services - How accessible is the school's career services department? How successful are they at securing jobs and internships for students and graduates? How active is the alumni network? Where do graduates find work? Is that where you want to work?

  • Environment - Are you seeking a small, close-knit community? Does the size of the campus make a difference to you? How important is student diversity to you? What about the ethnic make-up of the faculty? Is your ideal school affiliated with a certain religion? Have you considered whether you'd like a program that's more conservative or liberal in its political or economic leanings?

  • Extracurricular opportunities - Does your target program offer clubs or activities that appeal to you? Are there volunteer opportunities to pursue? What about cultural events or religious resources? Are there groups on campus that support your political views? Will you have the opportunity to start your own club?

  • Geography - Where would you like to pursue your MBA? On your home continent or abroad? If abroad, do you have adequate language skills to succeed in that country? Will you only consider English-speaking programs or English-speaking countries? Would you prefer a rural or urban campus? Do you need to be within a short distance of your home for any reasons (like an ill parent)?

Once you've evaluated your qualifications and determined what exactly it is you're looking for in an MBA program, then you should be ready to draft a list of schools.

In the meantime, read up on more tips on choosing a b-school by downloading Accepted.com's FREE special report, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One today!

Previously: Is Test Prep a Form of Cheating?

Next: An Inside Look at eTextbooks

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