A few programs ask for a set of slides as a part of the applications process. Use this video to learn how to create slides for your MBA Applications. The tips shared in this video will help you produce a strong application and make the most of the opportunity.

How to shortlist Business Schools

An MBA is a significant investment in terms of money, time, and effort. For most of you, it will be the last major educational endeavor you will undertake, occupy a massive part of your life for up to two years, and have a major impact on the future of your career. Suffice to say, it is a pretty big deal and no decision regarding it should be taken lightly, least of all your choice in school. Of course, you will have to apply to multiple schools to be safe (an even dozen is a good bet) but that still means there are dozens more you must sift through before you find the few that you wish to focus on.

First, let us look at some of the factors you should bear in mind when trying to find a program that works for you. You may note the usage of the phrase “worked for you” and not “the best you can crack”. This is because each individual has his or her own specialized needs and limitations with regard to the program they wish to proceed with. Picking a program isn’t just a matter of “where can I get in”; it is a matter of finding the round hole for the round peg.

This is why the first factor to bear in mind is the courses synchronicity with your career goals. You need to see how closely the courses offered within the program line up with what you feel you need to know to advance your career. The most important point to consider in this regard are the concentrations offered as those need to align with at least some of the fields required for the career trajectory you have planned. It also pays to take a look at the type of course structure offered. Try to get a sense of the pedagogy (teaching methodology) of the program and figure out if it will suit you. If at all possible, talk to a recent alumnus. However, you cannot just limit your research to the coursework for learning from your peers, networking, and developing a wide array of experiences are fundamental parts of an MBA education. You will need to look into the class profile to get a sense of the caliber and quality of the peer group you will have to immerse yourself in. Also, look into the student clubs and centers of excellence to see what type of extracurricular and enrichment activities you will be able to add to your profile.

Beyond academic considerations, though, there are practical ones too. You have to consider the location, duration, and cost of the program as well. You have to make a realistic assessment of your capability to move to the schools’ location (if required), and whether or not you will be able to devote months if not years to a rigorous scholastic workload. The financial investment required is, of course, another massive consideration to make and you need to crunch the numbers on your finances with extreme care and pay particular attention to any scholarship opportunities you might be able to avail of. Since the MBA is fundamentally a professional course, you will also need to look into each school’s placement records for your industry and domain of course.

There are numerous resources you can look at for this type of information, but the best one will be the school’s own website. There, you can find all the pertinent facts and figures in one convenient place; other than those, though, you might want to check out some rankings lists for business programs to get a sense of each school’s relative quality. Ignore the international lists for there are too many variables involved to be able to reliably rank MBA programs from different countries together. Instead, use regional lists like the Financial Times rankings for European schools and the U.S News rankings for American schools.

Your research will also have to include student statistics to evaluate your chances for admission. While doing this research, one fundamental fact has to be kept in mind - statistics on admitted students’ GMAT scores, GPA, work experience etc, are taken from median category students. If you are in any way a categorical outsider, in terms of nationality, industry of experience, or age, you need to consider the relevant statistics from your demographics to get a realistic sense of your competition.

A common myth that needs to be done away with, at this point, is the idea that the more work experience you have, the better it is. Both lower than and higher than average levels of work experience are drawbacks, and a higher level of work experience will not make up for a lower GMAT or GPA score.

Speaking of myths, this seems like a good point to highlight some common mistakes applicants make during the shortlisting process. The most common one has to be getting too influenced by rankings and brand names. One should not take “common wisdom” about the quality of any school as gospel, or let their placement on some ranking board discourage you from considering them. Certainly, do not decide not to pursue your degree unless you can get admission into a particular “level” of college. For the important thing is what you will learn there and what fits your requirements. A school that is lower ranked than the one you are considering could just be your perfect fit. It can be very difficult to maintain a rational outlook when emotions are, understandably, running high but you need to approach this question logically and avoid being over - optimistic.

As has been mentioned before, you need to properly crunch the numbers on your investment properly; an MBA is not an insignificant financial undertaking so one needs to plan carefully. It also will not pay to compare yourself against others you know who might have also gone through this. This is an undertaking meant for self-improvement, not a social jousting match. It has been emphasized repeatedly here that each person’s experience and requirements will be unique and you need to bear this in mind and shortlist your preferred schools according to your requirements.

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