At the end of the day, no matter how friendly the students or stunning the facilities, your decisions about which schools to apply to will most likely be informed by your career goals. You’ve already spoken with colleagues and mentors—and perhaps even with hiring officers—about various schools’ reputations in your target post-MBA field. The next step is to turn to the hard numbers. Virtually every MBA career center publishes an annual employment report that details students’ internship and job outcomes for the previous year, as well as the companies that hired their students and graduates. These statistics can help you get a sense of students’ interests, as well as the program’s track record of placing graduates in certain areas.
You’ve spoken to students and alumni in your network. You’ve scoured each school’s website. You’ve conducted online outreach to learn more about the curriculum and extracurricular opportunities. What next? The next way for you to go beyond the rankings as you consider MBA programs is to go out and get the scoop on a face-to-face basis.
The schools you’re thinking about may be scattered all over the country, but it’s likely that their admissions representatives will be coming your way in the months preceding the application deadlines. Whether organized by a single school or part of a larger event such as a tour or career fair, information sessions provide an excellent opportunity to get the latest news and details about a program. You may also be able to connect personally with admissions representatives and, depending on the event, alumni or current students, which can give you a better sense of the school community. Registration at these sessions tends to be limited, so check early and often to see when the schools you have your eye on will be passing through your area.
In the first entry of our series on ways to go beyond the rankings as you decide which MBA programs to target, we focused largely on sources of information within your own network. For the second installment, we’ll focus on the next steps of the research process that involve connecting with the business school community.
MBA programs differ in a number of very meaningful ways.Do students bid for popular elective classes using an auction model, or does registration operate on a random lottery system? Are there dedicated breaks for recruiting built into the academic calendar, or do company presentations and interviews run parallel to academic work?More importantly, are students generally able to get into the courses they want and balance the job hunt with class assignments? School websites and brochures will give you a sense of the big picture, but to get a handle on the finer points of the student experience, you’ll need to conduct some outreach.
You’ve decided to get an MBA—but where? For applicants who are just beginning to explore their options, rankings are a natural place to turn. They’re authoritative and, at first glance, look pretty comprehensive. They consider admission selectivity, post-MBA salary, recruiter input, student body diversity, international reach, faculty research … the list continues.
There’s one essential element of the school selection equation, however, that rankings fail to take into account: your personal career goals and preferences. With this in mind, we’d like to discuss a few sources of valuable business school information that will be highly tailored to your own post-MBA path.