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How to evaluate a Business School

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How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2012, 23:04
I am researching on Business schools which I should apply to. I wondering what all resources people use to know about the school and what all parameters should one consider before deciding if the school is a best fit.
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2012, 00:38
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syog wrote:
I am researching on Business schools which I should apply to. I wondering what all resources people use to know about the school and what all parameters should one consider before deciding if the school is a best fit.


There are several different things you would want to evaluate before deciding on the business schools you want to apply to. I will list the ones that were important to me:

1) Rankings

The rankings give you an idea of which are the best schools you have a realistic shot at. Ideally you want to get into the best school you can get into. This is a good place to start but definitely don't get hung up on the rankings. The best rankings to probably look at in my opinion are the Poets and Quants rankings as they combine all the other major rankings (BW, Forbes, USN etc).


2) Class Profiles

This is something available on the school websites. The class profiles will give you a good idea about the average stats of students in the program. Use this to figure out how your stats compare. Ideally your stats (GMAT, GPA etc.) should be at or above the average of the programs you apply to. Two other things to note are the average age and class size. You don't want to be too far above or below the average age when you matriculate as it would make it difficult to fit in with the other students. As far as class size is concerned, this is where your preference comes in. Do you like large classes or small ones? Would you rather have a large network of people whom you get to know somewhat, or a smaller group of people who you get really close to over the 2 years.


3) Employment Stats

The other VERY important piece of information you will get from the school websites (in most cases) are the employment stats. You obviously have a goal (or goals) in mind when you apply to the program. The employment stats which the schools provide will let you see if the industry and companies you are targeting post MBA actually hire at the specific program you want to apply to. Even if they don't, it is entirely possible to do your own networking and get the interviews, but ideally you want the companies to come to campus for recruiting. In my case I mostly applied to the programs which were "target schools" for the companies I wanted to work at post-MBA.


4) Location

This is a very important aspect of a program, often overlooked by applicants. You want to make sure that you will "like" the location of your school. You don't want to have two horrible years. So if you love big cities, you might want to target Columbia and NYU. If you like college towns, then Ross or Darden might be more up your alley.


5) Fit

"Fit" is something more illusive and means different things to different people. The best way to know whether you will fit into a program is to visit the schools and talk with current students and alums. If you don't have the chance to visit, at least talk / skype / email current students and alums and get a feel for the culture of the program.


In a nutshell, apply to schools which will allow you to achieve your goals best and are also a good "fit" for your personality. Hope this helps.
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2012, 01:02
Well, it depends. Here's how I zeroed on on the schools I am going to apply to:

1. I follow the P&Q Rankings. I believe those rankings take a holistic view of all the other rankings. It makes sense to follow P&Q rankings.

2. I'm not going to spend $160,000 on a not-so-good school. I'd rather not go for the MBA. That pretty much limits the schools to the top 15-16 of the rankings.

3. I'm looking at schools which admit a large proportion of international students.

4. I'm looking at schools which will offer me a loan without a US based Co-Signer.

5. Out of those top 15-16 schools, I took the upper half of the schools + one safety school from the lower half. The point is that I want an admit by December-January. If I get an admit, good. If I don't get an admit, I will then apply to the lower half of the target schools in R2.

6. For me, personally, fit is important but it is not something I'd base my decision to apply on. If, touch-wood, I get admitted to more than one program, then probably fit will kick in.

As of now, when I am at the application stage, fit doesn't matter. I want an MBA from a top school, fit or no fit. As long as I remain an applicant without an offer form a top MBA program, I will consider myself a beggar and beggars can't be choosers.

In short, fit, to me, is a utopian concept which kicks in only when you have more than one admit from a top program in your hand. As long as I don't have that, I won't be in a position to explore that utopian concept.
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2012, 02:55
finmaster wrote:
Well, it depends. Here's how I zeroed on on the schools I am going to apply to:

2. I'm not going to spend $160,000 on a not-so-good school. I'd rather not go for the MBA. That pretty much limits the schools to the top 15-16 of the rankings.

6. For me, personally, fit is important but it is not something I'd base my decision to apply on. If, touch-wood, I get admitted to more than one program, then probably fit will kick in.

As of now, when I am at the application stage, fit doesn't matter. I want an MBA from a top school, fit or no fit. As long as I remain an applicant without an offer form a top MBA program, I will consider myself a beggar and beggars can't be choosers.

In short, fit, to me, is a utopian concept which kicks in only when you have more than one admit from a top program in your hand. As long as I don't have that, I won't be in a position to explore that utopian concept.


There are very good schools outside of the top 15. Schools ranked 15-25 all offer a decent level of career opportunity on a national basis and are extremely strong within their respective regions. They also have smart and driven students. It would a mistake to think that just because a school is outside of the top 15-16 that it's a not so good school.

Also, if you don't assess fit before applying the school will do it for you when reading your application. Schools do expect you to understand YOUR fit with their program. If you haven't bothered to assess it for yourself it will show in your application. At many schools that's a fast way to land yourself in the ding w/o interview pile. A little more legwork up front can pay off dividends in terms of the effectiveness of each application you submit.
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2012, 03:15
cheetarah1980 wrote:
finmaster wrote:
Well, it depends. Here's how I zeroed on on the schools I am going to apply to:

2. I'm not going to spend $160,000 on a not-so-good school. I'd rather not go for the MBA. That pretty much limits the schools to the top 15-16 of the rankings.

6. For me, personally, fit is important but it is not something I'd base my decision to apply on. If, touch-wood, I get admitted to more than one program, then probably fit will kick in.

As of now, when I am at the application stage, fit doesn't matter. I want an MBA from a top school, fit or no fit. As long as I remain an applicant without an offer form a top MBA program, I will consider myself a beggar and beggars can't be choosers.

In short, fit, to me, is a utopian concept which kicks in only when you have more than one admit from a top program in your hand. As long as I don't have that, I won't be in a position to explore that utopian concept.


There are very good schools outside of the top 15. Schools ranked 15-25 all offer a decent level of career opportunity on a national basis and are extremely strong within their respective regions. They also have smart and driven students. It would a mistake to think that just because a school is outside of the top 15-16 that it's a not so good school.

Also, if you don't assess fit before applying the school will do it for you when reading your application. Schools do expect you to understand YOUR fit with their program. If you haven't bothered to assess it for yourself it will show in your application. At many schools that's a fast way to land yourself in the ding w/o interview pile. A little more legwork up front can pay off dividends in terms of the effectiveness of each application you submit.


1. Of course there are some very good schools beyond the top-15. However, as you continue to move down, the chances of getting good/great post-MBA employment will only slim further. You have to draw a line somewhere.

Here, see this,

http://poetsandquants.com/2011/11/28/fi ... a-interns/

Of course it's for interns and of course it's for 2011. Nevertheless, it gives a pretty good idea of what's in the mind of the top companies in the world.

15 is just a number. It could just as well be 16, 17 or whatever. Point is, you have to draw a line somewhere.

2. I didn't say I wouldn't assess my fit to the school. I said I won't base my decision to apply on it. I'm assessing how to portray my fit with the school, not whether I should apply to the school based on fit.

I think fit is a very fluid concept which can be defined in any number of ways.

Anyways, what's good for the goose, might not be good for the gander. I was obviously talking about myself. I'm desperate to get into a top MBA program this year. I won't base my decision to not apply to a school because I don't find the fit.

Once, touch-wood, I get accepted into more than one school, then I will probably base my decision on fit. Simply put, beggars can't be choosers.

BTW, don't you think that most of the criteria I listed above also form 'fit' for me?

I mean what is fit? It is nothing but how well a school can satisfy your ambitions, right?

My ambitions are all summarized above. Any school that helps me in the above listed points, is a great fit for me.

Fit is an adaptive concept. All I want is great employment opportunities post-MBA. That's it. I don't want anything else.

If I'm not good enough to adapt even that much to the circumstances of the school that admits me, honestly, I don't deserve to be a manager.
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2012, 10:13
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syog wrote:
3) Employment Stats

The other VERY important piece of information you will get from the school websites (in most cases) are the employment stats. You obviously have a goal (or goals) in mind when you apply to the program. The employment stats which the schools provide will let you see if the industry and companies you are targeting post MBA actually hire at the specific program you want to apply to. Even if they don't, it is entirely possible to do your own networking and get the interviews, but ideally you want the companies to come to campus for recruiting. In my case I mostly applied to the programs which were "target schools" for the companies I wanted to work at post-MBA.


I'm an economist, so I think this is really all it boils down to. Everything about business school can be quantified in terms of your future salary. All the rankings, extracurriculars, faculty, etc. are only there to endow you with greater earning power.

That said, you have to take a more nuanced view than you'll get just by looking at employment reports. A lot of people will look at a school's report and say something like "25% of the class goes into management consulting, so therefore if I go to this school I have a 25% chance of getting that job and getting their median salary". That's not how it works.

Related to this, you also need to look at cost of attendance. You can't measure ROI if you don't measure the I. Tuition will be broadly similar for most schools, but there are other components- e.g. cost of living, scholarships, tuition remission opportunities, in-state discounts. People seem to underestimate how significant $150-200k of student loans will be.

Fit is an important differentiator between two roughly equal schools. I love my undergrad alma mater and I know I would fit in great, but they don't offer exit opportunities in my industry, so I'm not going there. If I'm choosing between Harvard and Stanford, then fit comes into the equation.
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School [#permalink] New post 14 Jul 2012, 08:19
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finmaster wrote:
cheetarah1980 wrote:
There are very good schools outside of the top 15. Schools ranked 15-25 all offer a decent level of career opportunity on a national basis and are extremely strong within their respective regions. They also have smart and driven students. It would a mistake to think that just because a school is outside of the top 15-16 that it's a not so good school.

Also, if you don't assess fit before applying the school will do it for you when reading your application. Schools do expect you to understand YOUR fit with their program. If you haven't bothered to assess it for yourself it will show in your application. At many schools that's a fast way to land yourself in the ding w/o interview pile. A little more legwork up front can pay off dividends in terms of the effectiveness of each application you submit.


1. Of course there are some very good schools beyond the top-15. However, as you continue to move down, the chances of getting good/great post-MBA employment will only slim further. You have to draw a line somewhere.

Here, see this,

http://poetsandquants.com/2011/11/28/fi ... a-interns/

Of course it's for interns and of course it's for 2011. Nevertheless, it gives a pretty good idea of what's in the mind of the top companies in the world.

15 is just a number. It could just as well be 16, 17 or whatever. Point is, you have to draw a line somewhere.

2. I didn't say I wouldn't assess my fit to the school. I said I won't base my decision to apply on it. I'm assessing how to portray my fit with the school, not whether I should apply to the school based on fit.

I think fit is a very fluid concept which can be defined in any number of ways.

Anyways, what's good for the goose, might not be good for the gander. I was obviously talking about myself. I'm desperate to get into a top MBA program this year. I won't base my decision to not apply to a school because I don't find the fit.

Once, touch-wood, I get accepted into more than one school, then I will probably base my decision on fit. Simply put, beggars can't be choosers.

BTW, don't you think that most of the criteria I listed above also form 'fit' for me?

I mean what is fit? It is nothing but how well a school can satisfy your ambitions, right?

My ambitions are all summarized above. Any school that helps me in the above listed points, is a great fit for me.

Fit is an adaptive concept. All I want is great employment opportunities post-MBA. That's it. I don't want anything else.

If I'm not good enough to adapt even that much to the circumstances of the school that admits me, honestly, I don't deserve to be a manager.


You are right that fit is not a concrete concept. It's definitely fluid. I saw that myself when I was applying. I found fit with different schools for different reasons. It's not a matter of only one type of school being right for a person. However, when a school isn't right for you, you know it. Sometimes it's the size, in other situations it's the location, and in some instances it's the people you meet. The reason why people recommend doing school visits isn't really about the essays or schmoozing with the admissions officers. It's really about seeing if you can spend 2 years in that place. I thought Stern was a great school when I researched it online. I also spoke to an incoming student and a couple of alums and thought they were awesome. Then I visited and in spite of all my research that told me I would love the school I actually didn't like it at all. I couldn't see myself there for two years. It didn't fit so I didn't apply. I have met people on the other side of the equation. They may not have looked into fit on the front end then were admitted to a school only to realize later that it was not a good fit at all. If it's a situation where that's your only option that sets up quite the conundrum doesn't it.

I don't think it's a matter of not being adaptable or being an indication of management ability. If I'm going to spend $150K+ I want to do it some place I want to be. It's no different than choosing the right employer. I don't see great managers staying in work environments that aren't suited to them just to get a title and paycheck. The reason I keep encouraging you to really assess the nebulous concept of fit is because while I am sure that you are very adaptable and would be happy in several different environments I just find it doubtful that you would be happy at all of the top 15-16 schools because there are definite differences. For example, I love Kellogg's teamwork culture and energetic student body. Other people find all of the cheer at Kellogg to be excessive and don't want to do everything in teams. Can Kellogg help that person reach their career goals? Of course! But it just might not be the right place for them to do so. So why bother applying?
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Re: How to evaluate a Business School   [#permalink] 14 Jul 2012, 08:19
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