Deciding to attend business school for two years is no small thing. For most people, it involves a complete change in lifestyle—moving to a new town, living in a different kind of housing, interacting with unfamiliar people, following a new daily schedule and even, in some cases, adjusting to a new climate. Although many candidates spend time researching MBA programs and comparing their academic strengths and resources, not as many stop to consider what these schools offer in the way of facilities and why this is even important. Have you?
Consider this: you sign a two-year lease on a cool new apartment. Upon moving in, you realize your otherwise great new place lacks many of the amenities that are important to you—a washer and dryer, for example, or a balcony, or gym access. These may be just basic conveniences, but not having them handy could become trying after a while. Would you just laugh it off or would you feel a bit irritated, knowing you were locked into the situation for the next two years? Any top business school you attend will be rigorous, requiring significant time and energy on your part for the duration of the program. Having comfortable facilities that meet your specific needs can make the difference between a truly pleasant business school experience and one that is more challenging than it needs to be. This is why we always advise candidates to visit their target schools—not to impress the admissions committee, but to determine firsthand whether the school is the right fit. Remember, this is not just two years of education we’re talking about, this is two years of your life!
In the past, we have noted that many of the top business schools seem to be in a kind of arms race, constantly updating and adding facilities to appeal to candidates and stay competitive. As a result, the students at these schools benefit from more and better amenities every year. Ask yourself what aspects of the environment at your target school would make your overall MBA experience ideal. Sufficient study spaces across grounds, equipped with state-of-the-art technology? A bike-friendly campus in a warm climate? An on-campus eatery that offers vegan or kosher meal options? A golf course (University of Virginia)) or maybe ski slopes (Dartmouth) you can access at a discounted rate? In the end, you may not find a school that offers absolutely everything you want, but you should be able to identify a few with enough to ensure you will be comfortable in your new home. Taking the time now to examine your needs beyond the classroom as well as inside the classroom will increase your chances of having a truly rewarding MBA experience.
By Jeremy Shinewald, Founder/President, mbaMission