Applying to the right schools is one of the most important steps in your journey. MBA Programs shortlisting takes time and effort; always put enough research before deciding to apply.
For the starters, it’s more important to know ‘what not to do’ in the schools shortlisting…
Don’t let the Rankings Alone Decide your Portfolio of Schools
Use the rankings but please don’t be overwhelmed by them; most MBA applicants commit the mistake of giving the ‘rank’ an undue weightage, obviating the need for in-depth analysis for schools shortlisting.
Don’t Let your Perception Dominate your Judgment
Before you indulge in detailed schools shortlisting, you may be aware of just a handful, generally 10-20, programs. That’s human. However, don’t keep parroting the same names as they may not be the right programs in terms of your career plans, chances of selection etc. Conduct detailed, objective research before finalizing your portfolio of schools.
Little Knowledge is Dangerous. Avoid too Many Opinions
Your family, friends, extended family, and extended family’s friends may all have a school or two to suggest. Be clear who you take suggestions from. Conduct you own research or take professional help from a well trusted organization.
Key points that you must consider while short-listing schools are:
Alignment with Your Career Plans
This is the most important part of schools shortlisting process. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the MBA applicants lay emphasis on this virtue as they are overwhelmed by the brand value of the programs they have heard of and they undermine the true potential of the MBA programs they have not heard of. Applying to a program whose strength are in sync with you career plans has the following advantages…
• Schools see a clear reason for applying to it in particular and consider you a serious candidate who seems to have done one’s homework before plunging into the applications process.
• Admissions committee sees a potential candidate whose career plans (and often background) synchronize with the school’s strengths and thus, see a higher chance of you exploiting the employment opportunities. Remember, schools seek candidates who shall be gainfully employed on graduation and go on to assume leadership roles, taking the schools’ name to greater heights!
• Practically, you will stand a better chance of meeting your career goals.
Intellectual Capital and Program Offerings
Prominent MBA programs generally have great legacy; most of the world’s most prestigious MBA programs are more than 50 years old. Look for age of the program, profile of faculty, research initiatives, student-teacher ratio, program structure, teaching methodology, concentrations on offer, list of electives etc.
Closely study the profile of the current class; look at the years of experience, average GMAT score, nationalities represented, industry and academic background etc. After due diligence, ask yourself that uncomfortable question: “Do you belong to that class”? Your answer to this question shall probably me the most important in your quest of MBA programs!
Use the placement statistics judiciously; don’t simply look at the percentage of students placed and the average salaries. Also look for the industry and profiles trends in the alumni base; understand the strengths of the program and analyze whether your career plans are in sync with the trend in the respective schools.
A global MBA is a great opportunity to gain international exposure. A vibrant, cosmopolitan location not only ensures apt global exposure but also attracts more number of potential recruiters.
Students are often too touchy about the duration of the MBA. We suggest that you don’t add this as a stringent constraint unless you have compelling reasons for doing so. The so called “two years MBA” is also only 21 months long and of the extra nine months, four are for internship- something that plays a vital role in post-MBA employment, especially if you’re looking for a shift in career. You pursue your MBA once in your career, be in no hurry; analyze objectively about the duration and let this be a constraint only if it really is so!
Expenses and Funding Opportunities
Estimate the total, likely expenses and analyze the funding options such as scholarship opportunities, collateral free loans, GA/TA opportunities.
Spread the Risk
Ensure that you are being neither too optimistic nor playing too safe. Have a few dream schools, a few practical schools, and a safe school in your portfolio.
Speak to the Current Students and Recent Alumni
In the age of LinkedIn and Facebook, connecting with the alumni is fairly straightforward. Try to speak with a candidate from your country of origin and similar background. Request an information interview and ask the specific questions rather than the rhetoric. Take the opinions of the current students with a pinch of salt as their opinion may be colored in the thick of things. Such views are clearer in hindsight; try reaching some recent pass-outs!
See whether you are able to Relate to the Program
Go through the school’s website and understand the ‘theme’ of its pedagogy; read about the campus life, student clubs, and extracurricular activities. MBA is going to be one of the most memorable time of your life; see whether you are able to strike a chord with what you read. Give the gut its due!
Useful Resources for Shortlisting MBA Programs
Apart from the schools’ websites, following are a few recommended resources for help in your analysis…
US News (For American MBA Programs)
Financial Times Rankings (For non-American MBA Programs)
Poets & Quant
We club our expertise with all the aforesaid factors for selecting the MBA Programs for our students. We short-list a list of dream, pragmatic, and safe schools for every individual enrolled with us.