From The Staff of MBA Admit.com
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Identifying Your Business School Short-List: 2 Factors to Consider
For candidates choosing which business schools to apply to and for candidates trying to decide which school to attend after being admitted to several, there are many key factors that should influence your choice. Of course, candidates who are beginning to select schools to apply to must also assess where they will be competitive. Here are two key factors you should consider when narrowing your list:
Prestige and ranking are often seen as synonymous when, in reality, they mean two very different things. A business school can be ranked as a “top-5” business school in one year and be only a “top-10” business school the very next year. Rankings can fluctuate greatly, even year-to-year. They can also be notably different based upon which organization provided the ranking. However, the “brand” you pick up from the business school you attend can continue much further in networking and job searching, regardless of ranking.
When making the tough decision of which business school to apply to or attend, focusing solely on rankings rather than also on the long-term prestige can be shortsighted. For instance, when a student who intends to pursue a career outside of the United States must choose between NYU and Oxford, prestige may be especially important in the eyes of their future employers. NYU is a well-ranked business school, but Oxford’s prestige is golden on an international level, even if the business school ranking is lower than NYU’s. In this candidate’s case, the Oxford name may actually carry his or her prospects further than the NYU ranking. On the other hand, a candidate who wants to pursue a career in the United States may also want to consider prestige when deciding between a highly ranked regional school and a highly ranked national school. If you intend to move around the U.S. during your career, the more prestigious nationally ranked school may serve you better. But prestige is a subjective matter. In the South, for instance, Duke’s name is highly regarded and may open more doors than an MBA from the University of Chicago. In this situation, the Booth name may not be as widely known and carry as far as Duke’s, despite its strong national ranking.
Career and Alumni
As you go through the admissions process, you should have a general sense of where you want to take your career post-MBA, both in the years immediately post-graduation as well as in the long-term. Companies that recruit on campus usually have a list of target schools with which they have longstanding relationships and work closely with their career management offices. More often than not, your degree is only a stepping-stone toward what you want to do later in life. In many cases, you will have two or three job changes in your first post-MBA decade. It is during those crucial moments that your business school network can make a difference. Alumni will often favor job candidates from their own school. Your classmates will start companies or rise to senior positions in various industries and offer resources, networks and career advice. Many schools offer lifelong career support, so it is important to gear your career goals to the career opportunities offered by your business school of choice. Consider the school that will best help to fulfill your career aspirations.
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA Admit.com