Use this video to understand an overall approach for conducting research on business schools. The concepts in this video will be helpful in the MBA Applications process.

How to Conduct Research on Schools

The MBA application process is not all about oneself. There is another party involved in your quest for admission, that is to say, the school of course. If you need to make a key, first you have to study the lock. As such if you want to craft a winning application, first you need to research the programs you want to apply to.

There are several good resources you can use to compile information on the schools you have your eye on. You can take a look at university ranking lists, like the Financial Times rankings for European schools or the rankings put out by American news agencies for U.S schools. Do not use international ranking lists for there is enough variance across global standards and comparisons between MBA programs in different countries are tenuous at best. Another way to gather information is by forming a social network across portals like LinkedIn, GMAT Club, Poets & Quants, and etc. You can also sign up for campus visits if possible, especially if it allows you to actually meet members of the admission committee. Through these networks, you can link up with other like-minded people and share knowledge. You may even be able to find a mentor who has gone through this process before.

The best source you will find, however, will most likely be the school’s own website. From those websites, you need to learn about these schools’ pedagogies, program structure, concentrations offered, class profile, placement record (within your own industry and domain of course). You will also need to read about and understand the student ecosystem - what type of students is it best conducive to; what type of student clubs and centers of excellence do they have, and what are their strengths? You need to gain a thorough understanding of the school’s best qualities and match them against the path of growth you want your MBA to facilitate.

Having said the above, the most important thing is to not get overwhelmed by this sea of information for when people get overwhelmed, they make mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, let us now take a look at some of the biggest mistakes applicants make when researching schools. One of the most prominent mistakes is one of attitude There are far too many people, who go into this learning process with the wrong mindset; they either approach the process with the intention of “impressing” with their knowledge of the school rather than to develop a holistic understanding of the program. At the same time, they take the lock and key metaphor too seriously and only try to figure out how they can “crack” the admission process. Another big mistake is to misuse statistical data about acceptances. One has to remember that the median and mean information given about the GMAT, GPA, work experience, and age are representative of the median applicants. If you are an outlier in terms of nationality, industry background or anything else, you have to measure yourself against that metric. Something else that is absolutely vital is to not get influenced by extreme views or take a singular bad review or scathing article seriously.

The correct approach to research schools is to simply and soberly conduct a proper study on the program from reliable sources. If possible, try to speak to an admission committee member or recent alumni directly. Current students might not have the best understanding of the qualities of the program until they graduate and alumni who have passed out a while ago may give you outdated information. However, above all, you have to maintain the right attitude; you have to maintain a genuine interest in the program and not just look at your research as a way to get admission.

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