Which MBA program is best for you? Well, what are you interested in?11:43pm - Jun 26, 2008As a graduate of Duke's MBA program, I wish to describe which MBA programs excel at which concentrations. By including the schools that are 1st or 2nd at your concentration, you'll be compiling a list of B-schools that are best for you.
First, I divide the Top 15 MBA programs into three categories: The Top 5 MBA programs (Wharton, Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, Columbia -- each is the best at something and excellent at everything else), The Top 10 MBA programs (Chicago, Michigan, MIT, Duke, Dartmouth -- each is second-best at something and excellent at most everything else), and the Top 15 MBA programs (Virginia, UC-Berkeley, NYU, Cornell, and UCLA -- each is excellent at most everything).
First, the main disciplines in which MBA programs compete are: Finance, Marketing, Operations, Management, and Entrepreneurship. Finance is how to value a business venture; Marketing is how to create a niche and get/keep customers; Operations is how to bring a product to market; Management is how to lead the totality of a business; Entrepreneurship is how to develop and market a new business. As much as anything, your personality will direct your interests.
Only Wharton is at or near the top of every disciplines. With top-ranked undergraduate and graduate business programs, Wharton is better conceived of as a business university than a business school. In recent memory, Wharton has catapult its parent school, the University of Pennsylvania, to a top ranking. In contrast, the other top business schools draw their prestige from their parent schools (seriously, go ask people if they've ever heard of Sloan, Ross, or Fuqua). Only Wharton has prestige above and beyond its parent school.
Among the other Top 5 MBA programs, Harvard is best at Management, Stanford at Entrepreneurship/IT, Northwestern at Marketing, and Columbia at NYC connections. All five of these schools are excellent in all areas. Even their struggling disciplines are still in the Top 10 -- even Harvard is thrown a Top 10 Finance bone, even NW a Top 10 Operations bone.
The next 5 schools, The Top 10 MBA programs are all second-best at something. Don't underestimate second-best in an area because second-best is typically beating both Harvard and Stanford. Chicago is second-best in Finance; Michigan is second-best in Management, MIT is second-best in Entrepreneurship/IT, Duke is second-best in Marketing, and Dartmouth is second-best in Strength of Alumni Network.
Attending a Top 10 MBA program works best when you concentrate in the area in which that school is the second-best MBA program. Conversely, I hate to see people who pick a school for its name, such as client of mine who went to MIT although she wished to emphasize Marketing. Talk about a mistake.
I did the right thing -- I concentrated in my school's strength. While at Duke, I took all the Marketing (and Entrepreurship) courses. The primary act in business is Marketing: identifying what people want and developing the best offering possible service to serve that market. Further, I know that I'm better in a small entrepreneurial business and lousy in a large business. Again, your personality can direct you to where you are most likely to thrive.
So if you wish to make it on Wall Street and you don't get accepted at Wharton, Columbia, or Chicago, forget Michigan or Duke -- dig down to a so-called Top 15 MBA program: NYU Stern. Although its typically ranked only 11th through 15th, Stern is a Top 5 MBA program for Finance. Typically, 5 of the Top 15 MBA programs are very impressive in your desired concentration, 5 more are impressive in your desired concentration, and 5 more are best avoided for that concentration.
Finally, do your best to go to a Top 5 MBA program because if you change your mind on your field of concentration, you'll still be at a leading school in your new concentration.
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Mental Endurance Correlates well with Physical Endurance4:15pm - Jun 12, 2008Although many of my future blog entries will discuss either the importance of scoring 700+ (for your prospects of MBA admission, MBA scholarship/fellowship, on-campus interview, ...) or the fundamentals of PS, DS, RC, CR, & SC, today I start my blog history with a simple idea: the GMAT-CAT is 3.5 hour test that is administered to you over a 4 hour period and you had better have great mental endurance to perform your best on the GMAT.
To some people, these 4 hours may not seem like a long stretch. They may reason that, "hey, I spend 4+ hours at my desk every morning and 4+ hours at my desk every afternoon, no big deal." Well, the reason that we can work for 4+ hours straight is that we are performing many repetitive tasks that we can do with our brains half-on. Certainly, working with you brain half-on isn't too demanding, even for 4+ hours. But, except for the AoI and AoA essays, the GMAT isn't about working with your brain half-on. To tackle the incredibly difficult material that the GMAT can throw at you -- such as 140 line RC passages -- you need your brain fully-on. In fact, I'd equate the GMAT with its one hour of essays (brain half-on or three-fourths-on) and two and one-half hours of Quant and Verbal (brain fully-on) equates to working 6 or 7 hours with your brain half-on.
So how do you cultivate nearly 4 hours of high-level mental endurance? Well, two paths come to mind.
My path has largely been a hybrid where both my mental endurace (cultivated through 3-4 hour study sessions, back-to-back classes in college, and half-day academic competitions, actuarial exams, GMAT tests) and physical endurance (cultivated by 3-hour wrestling practices, 10 mile runs, 2-hour weight lifting sessions, and intense interval training in track practices) have benefited each other. In short, my mental endurance helps me keep my focus during a long run or weight-lifting session and my physical endurance helps me keep my focus during a long class or test.
The other path that I have seen work is through sheer mental endurace such as a computer programmer/designer who can push himself to code for 6-8 hours at one sitting, with his brain maybe three-fourths-on most of the time. I have also seen some mathematics graduate students effectively study for 6 hours at a time, but I have the distinct recollection that that study method worked only for the most focused (typically introverted) people.
I offer this as a caveat, because 80-90% of people at business school are extroverts who are not driven to cultivate the skill of being immersed in their (brain-intensive) work for 6+ hours at a sitting. Frankly, even though I have great mental endurance, I have never done brain-intensive work for 6 hours straight. After 4 hours, I am due a break, some sunshine, some food, some fresh air, .. and most people who want to go to business school feel the same way. Heck, I remember one guy from Duke's MBA program who couldn't stand to go 6 weeks living in the same place without taking a vacation.
As such, I recommend that introverts do what they have always done -- develop your mental endurance through sheer mental focus. Good for you if you can do this.
But for the rest of us, the extroverts, we can best develop mental endurance with my hybrid approach: push yourself physically and mentally because the two activities complement one another. The important thing to remember is that you need to push yourself. Walking doesn't count. Jogging doesn't count either.
Running is the best path and I recommend it highly. If you are new to running, start with running just one mile and focus on running faster. If you are man, push yourself to run a 7 minute mile before proceeding to a 2 mile distance run. If you are a woman, push yourself to run a 7.5 minute mile before your proceed to running a 2 mile distance. Keep making yourself meet these speed goals before you allow yourself to run farther. Remember, quality counts much, much more than quantity.
In addition to running, I suggest that you lift weights 3 times a week for 1.5 hours each session. I divide my workouts into Day 1: Legs (Squat, Deadlift, Leg Press, Lunges, Leg Curls, Calf Raises), Day 2: Back and Chest (Wide-Grip Pullups, DB Bench Press, BB Rows (Smith machine), BB Incline Bench Press), and Day 4: Shoulders and Arms (BB Shoulder Press, DB Shoulder Press, Upright Rows, DB Curls, BB Tricep French Press). Each session should be a real challenge.
My recent client in town from Philadelphia, Vinit, joined me for 4 weeks of weights workouts while he was in town and I saw how he improved both his strength 10 to 20%. No doubt his improved physical condition and endurance benefitted his mental endurance as he improved his GMAT score -- with my GMAT prep --from 620 to 740.
One more example, my client James -- who was a national level tri-athlete (swim, bike, run) and who competed in the Ironman held in Hawaii, a 6 to 8 hour race -- had such great endurance that he was always at his highest mental performance level. I prepared him to score 760 on the GMAT and that was with him only taking the GMAT just once. Talk about a client whom I could have prepared to earn an 800 GMAT if he was willing to take the test a second time. To this day, he is my only client whose mental and physical endurance just blew mine away.
So, the moral of the story is get out there and run and lift weights, doing so will not only reduce the stress of GMAT preparation, but also improve your mental endurance that is critical on GMAT test day.http://perfectgmat.com/cgi-bin/ebb/blog2/index.php