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How to Shortlist Business Schools
How to Shortlist Business Schools
As you set off on your MBA journey, please keep in mind that what schools you apply to is just as important as the quality of your applications when it comes to securing admits. Furthermore, there are innumerable factors that you must consider when deciding which business school and program are best for you. Setting out on the road to an MBA will be meaningless if you pick the wrong destination. This is why admissions consultants tend to treat school shortlisting as one of the most fundamental steps in the MBA admissions process.
In this article, we will cover the factors to be considered while selecting business schools, resources that should be used to gain clarity on the schools, how to properly understand the related statistics and common mistakes that applicants make in shortlisting business schools. Preparing a business school shortlist is a fairly important subject, so please read this article carefully.
Factors to be Considered
The first and most important factor to be considered when preparing your business school shortlist is the program's sync with your own career goals
. The purpose of an MBA is to prepare you for your future career; this means that the MBA program should be able to guide you on the career path that you have chosen.
The second factor in preparing a good business school shortlist is location; the geographic location of a business school is an important practical consideration to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue admission to that school. This factor influences both how feasible it would be for you to attend that school and the range of internships and placement opportunities that will be available to you.
The third factor to consider in business school selection is the duration of the program. An MBA is a significant investment of time and will most likely require you to take a sabbatical from your work or even leave your current job, altogether. You must make sure that the length of the program will be manageable for you.
The fourth factor to consider is the monetary cost that the program will require. As we will cover later on when we discuss the common mistakes, the financial investment that an MBA program requires is quite significant. While in the long run, the enhanced career opportunities that an MBA will provide make the initial cost worth it, you will have to carefully consider how to finance your education and that consideration should feature heavily in your business school shortlisting rationale.
The fifth factor to consider while picking out business schools is the availability of scholarship opportunities. This is closely related to the fourth factor; scholarships can greatly ease the financial cost of pursuing an MBA.
The best resource for gaining clarity on a business school is always the school's website. Make sure to go through websites of the schools that you are considering shortlisting and understand their pedagogy, program structure, class profile, concentrations offered and placement records. When going through the placement records, focus on those pertaining to the industry and domain that you are targeting. Also, try to get a sense of what the school's ecosystem is like and what type of careers it is good for fostering; this can be done by paying close attention to what type of student clubs, centers of excellence, events, etc., the school has.
A good resource to consider is school rankings; for US and European schools, the best ranking
lists are the US News Rankings and the Financial Times Rankings, respectively. While we cannot suggest any such rankings for Canadian, Asian (particularly Indian), and Australian programs, Experts' Global has put together its own ranking list that you can consult.
Using Statistics Carefully
Remember, the median data only applies to the median candidates. You must factor in elements such as your years of experience, industry, and even nationality when comparing your profile to the average profile of a successful applicant. If you belong to a demographic that is over-represented among MBA candidates, you will face higher competition. For example, an Indian engineer may have a more restrictive shortlist of schools because this is a demographic that is over-represented among MBA applicants.
Deciding which business schools to pursue is a task that involves a battle between logic and emotion. One of the most fundamental mistakes that admissions consultants catch MBA candidates making is being overoptimistic
; you need to be realistic when evaluating schools to include on your list. Here, working with an admissions consultant can be very beneficial as an objective viewpoint will help you better understand your options.
A very common mistake is allowing the rankings to shape your perception too much. Many MBA applicants immediately reject the idea of considering any school that falls below the top X percent for their shortlist; this is a poor approach, as one’s focus should be on the learning that the program can provide, not just it's ranking.
Related to the previous point, MBA applicants have a tendency to become too influenced by the brands of the schools. You should include a business school’s name on your shortlist, based on its suitability for your career plans rather than the brand name; it is entirely possible that a lesser-known school might turn out to be better for your unique professional needs.
A big mistake that MBA aspirants make while shortlisting business schools is failing to consider finances. As mentioned earlier, an MBA will require significant monetary investment; needless to say, such an investment must be carefully planned.
It is also unwise to compare yourself with other candidates; do not try to judge your own chances of getting an admit or a scholarship by comparing your profile with that of another candidate. It is not practically possible for one applicant to gain complete insight into another's candidature; instead, focus only on preparing a set of business schools to apply to that fits your unique situation.
Finally, the biggest mistake that candidates make is allowing themselves to become overwhelmed by the process and the amount of information available. While shortlisting business schools to apply to, stay calm and take everything one step at a time; it would be very helpful if you had an admissions consultant or another mentor to rely on, or even just a buddy.
For more useful information on the MBA application process please see the other articles prepared by Experts’ Global’s MBA admissions consultancy