I´ve been trying to start (or finish) selecting the schools to which I will apply next year for some time now, but it has been a more difficult task than I thought, mostly because it requires time and some deep research and time is what I haven´t had lately. So now it has come the time when I have to start, at least, crossing out some of the schools from my list in order to leave just the 4-6 I will end up applying to.
Thankfully, I did some of my homewrok last fall, as I tried to gather information on each school and, of course, attended as many school events as I could to get in touch with students and alumni (as a regular reader of this blog may know). Those events are a great opportunity to get some insight you won´t get anywhere else and that will be crucial if you want to successfully answer that “Why this school?” question (a point I made clear in this previous post). And, in fact, some of the schools are/remain in my list because of what I learnt in those evenings.
My next step, as I always try to reach further, will be to go visit some of the campuses. I think of it as a great chance to feel and experience the school´s enviroment and get a glance of what it could be like to study there. With that in mind, and since I will most likely spend next february in the US, I want to take the opportunity to visit some of those schools in which I am interested. Of course, I won´t have that much time to spare, but I hope I can get the time to visit at least a couple of them, even if only the closest ones. Therefore, I have already contacted some of them to check that possibility.
It is fair to say, in the end, that there are many oportunities to get to know each MBA program and a lot of information available to help you decide, but it is up to you how to use it. You have to know what is more important to you regardgin the MBA experience, what are you looking for in a busines school, in a MBA program and in a community, so you can use all that information, data, “fun facts”… about each school to your benefit.
In that regard, I have thought of some initial considerations to try to define what kind of school I would fit in best:
– I like a small class better. One of the main goals of doing an MBA is to get to know new people, from both a personal and a professional point of view. I guess a small class gives you a better opportunity to get to know all your classmates better and bond with them establishing durable relationships. A close community. Of course a bigger class exposes you to a broader spectrum of people, one could say.
– I don´t mind small town or big city. True, I love big cities. But it is also true that those two years will be a very unique experience and I feel it could be an even greater and more unique one in a not-so-big town where all you breathe is “MBA experience”. In fact, one of my fovourite schools so far, Tuck, is located in a town with some 11,000 inhabitants. There is no doubt I would love to be spend 2 years in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, too.
– Rankings are another tool but are not law. I won´t pick my schools based solely or mostly on rankings. Location, intended industy/job function, school´s phylosophy… are important things to consider that could make a school with a lower ranking a better choice. Of course I intend to apply to some of the best schools in the US but, among some of them, differences can be subttle regarding some key aspects and those are to which I´ll have to pay attention in order to pick.
– All roads lead to Rome. An MBA degree of any of the top business schools can lead you to your intended job in most cases. That is something I believe after meeting students and alumni from very different schools. Of course, some of them lead you more directly than others to certain goals and with a not-so-big effort. That all roads lead to Rome does not mean that they have the same length. Definitely something to keep in mind.
Those are some very general facts that will serve as a starting point to my process. But I have already been warned by some alumni: my ideas will most likely change to a certain extent as the process evolves, and the school(s) which I might end up selecting as targets could not be the same one that currently holds the(s) top seed(s).
I´m curious to see how it ends.
P.S. : This blog has recently reached the mark of 1,000 visits. So thank you all for reading and making me keep sharing.