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How to research business schools

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How to research business schools  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jul 2018, 05:56
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How to research business schools





So, you have decided to apply to business schools this year? Great! You have come to the right place. I hope most of your pre-application things are going great (i.e. the GMAT, selecting your recommenders, figuring out your resume and accomplishments). I am sure you have been looking at the rankings and staring starry-eyed at the likes of Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. We all did. But selecting schools is probably a mix of art and science that takes careful and cautionary tread. I have been through this process enough to have a few cents to share, so I hope you find this useful :

How many schools to apply to?



Before we begin the process of actual research through schools, here's a quick note on the number of schools you should be thinking about: (repost from an old but wise forum post!)

Quote:
We recommend applying to six or so MBA programs throughout the entirety of the admissions season. If you do a good job on that many, you're going to end up with a couple offers to choose from. If you're starting early enough to get some Round 1 apps in, then three or four applications per round is ideal. If Round 2 will be your first submissions, then you need to apply to more schools. Be reasonable though. If you try to do more than four or five schools at once, you'll get totally burned out. The quality will suffer and your chances of admission go down drastically.

However, at this early stage, don't limit yourself. Your job right now is to explore all your options and identify the best schools for you. Your list can be fairly long here at the beginning. Keep adding to it as you hear about schools that you like. Stay open-minded. The schools that end up on your short list may be ones you hadn't even heard of at the beginning!

In addition, you shouldn't be afraid to cross schools off your list, for any reason. Over time you should be whittling the list of targets down. Aim to identify eight to ten MBA programs that you're interested in over the next few weeks.


Steps to research business schools


1. Figure out why you REALLY want your MBA - Different schools have different strengths and you may be surprised to find how true (or false!) the stereotypes are - Kellogg is a marketing/consulting school, Tuck is great for strategy, and Haas is for the tech/entrepreneur types - while these tropes are largely untrue, there are nuances of different schools that may work in your favour. For example, Tuck actually has amazing strategy classes, Haas has probably one of the strongest social impact program in the country, and Ross has a one-of-a-kind MAP program. It is up to you to decide the program components and outside-the-classroom opportunities that appeal to you to make that choice. Knowing WHY you want to do your MBA is a great starting point for that. Check out this great case-study that Accepted.com did a few years back.

2. Find your own network - Do you know anyone with an MBA? If people at work already know that you're interested in bschool, then ask around at the office (obviously you won't want to do so if it will put your job in jeopardy). If you work at a big company, you could even look on the corporate website to see which executives have MBAs, and set up informational interviews with them. Or if you need to be more lowkey about the MBA at work, then leverage your social circle. Maybe a friend of a friend went to a school that you're interested in, or your college roommate was just accepted. Look on LinkedIn. Find people to talk to. Break out of your shell, make some phone calls, send a few emails.

3. School websites are amazing (sometimes!) - You may feel that a lot of the schools' websites sound the same. They are all trying to market to you using similar language, and sometimes it gets overwhelming. At this stage of your research, pay more attention to the parts of the site focused on students. Don't worry about the application instructions just yet. Look at the class profile, and see if they have biographies of current students and recent alum. Check out their academic offerings and student clubs. There's a core set of common features that all schools share - all of them have a Corporate Finance class and a Consulting Club - but there's also a lot of differences. You'll start to understand what each school is about as you have more and more interactions with them.

4. Attend school events near or far away from you - If I could point out the best way to pretend to know a school, it would be through school events. No, they are not very useful in the traditional way in that you would know most of the things in the presentation anyway (if you have followed (3) ). But a facetime with adcoms and making a good impression can go a long long way. I personally know two admits from this year who, in their admit call, heard that their impression in the school event was solid and it helped their case. So listen, ask good questions, and don't overdo the cocktails.

5. Keep a recordIt could be as simple as a spreadsheet. Basically, you would want to be able to remember the conversations you have had with current students/alums/events and websites for quick reference when you are crunching those essays. Keep tabs on the insights you learn. When you add a school to your list, make notes on WHY you're interested in them. You need to have reasons for choosing a school (not just the fact that they're highly ranked). You might also want to note the reason for eliminating a school for consideration, so you can remember your thought process later on. Also, keep track of who you've spoken to and what you talked about. These notes can not only help you organize all this information you're collecting, they'll also be a huge asset to you later on, when you're writing essays and you're telling the adcom why you are interested in their program.

Final piece of advice - old post rehash!



Solid advice from an admission consultant

While the research phase never really ends - you'll still be discovering new things about your programs of interest all the way through, including the interview experience and Admit Weekend - it's also a phase that can get away from you if you let it. It's important to set an initial strategy and move on within a reasonable amount of time. Give yourself a few weeks - or a month - but set yourself a deadline by which you'll at least have a shortlist of eight-ish schools identified.

Talking to people about their experiences in business school is invaluable in helping you learn about schools and discovering what to focus on in your selection process. The best people to speak with are current students and recent graduates. Not only can they share their experiences with you, they can often give you input about the other schools they considered when they were applying. Just keep in mind that schools change; the policies and programs that may have been in effect when someone else went through the admissions process a year or two ago may not apply any longer. Take in all the information you can and be sure to verify it before proceeding.

Remember too that interacting with the school itself is the best way to get reliable information and insights about their program. You really can only figure out if a school is right for you by interacting with the school community directly. This means, if possible, taking a trip to visit. Or, attend a local info session. That "talk to people" step is critically important. Bschool is a tremendous investment of time, energy, and money. You want to be an informed consumer when you choose which schools to apply to.

To wrap things up, we have to mention the obvious: We didn't mention anything about your profile and choosing schools. Yes, GPA and GMAT scores matter - but you shouldn't be deciding which schools to apply to based solely on those statistics. If your GMAT score is very low, then it may limit your options, and of course you need to be realistic, based on what you'll be presenting to the adcom. To be more confident of your chances, you'll want to find schools whose accepted students' GMAT scores are in line with yours. If you fall outside the 80% range (usually published on the schools' websites) then you're going to have a tougher time getting in. Not impossible, but definitely not the easy route.

At this early stage, you're deciding which schools are interesting to you. It's kind of like going on an online dating site and looking at profiles of people who are available. Any of them might be The One... but who knows which it will be? Lots of them seem very attractive. You need to get to know them a little bit more before you will be able to decide.


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Re: How to research business schools  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jul 2018, 06:09
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Re: How to research business schools  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jul 2018, 06:12
souvik101990 wrote:

How to research business schools



I personally know two admits from this year who, in their admit call, heard that their impression in the school event was solid and it helped their case. So listen, ask good questions, and don't overdo the cocktails.



Thank you so much souvik101990 for the awesome post! Wanted to ask you if there are any posts on the forum addressing how to prepare for in-person school events and how best to make an impression.

Thanks!
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Re: How to research business schools  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jul 2018, 06:15
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nkin wrote:
souvik101990 wrote:

How to research business schools



I personally know two admits from this year who, in their admit call, heard that their impression in the school event was solid and it helped their case. So listen, ask good questions, and don't overdo the cocktails.



Thank you so much souvik101990 for the awesome post! Wanted to ask you if there are any posts on the forum addressing how to prepare for in-person school events and how best to make an impression.

Thanks!


Feel free to ask that question in the google form (linked above and hyperlinked HERE) - I am sure Melody from Vantage Point MBA will love to address it on Monday July 9th LIVE CHAT :)
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Re: How to research business schools &nbs [#permalink] 03 Jul 2018, 06:15
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