Now that you've received your acceptance letters from business schools and started
thinking about the next stage of your life, it's time to pick a destination. Since
you'll want to make the most of your business school experience and program, it's
important that you choose the right school. It's tempting to select a school
based on rankings or other external factors, but there are few other criteria
you should consider before mailing in your deposit. Here are other important
factors to help you decide where to get your MBA.
1) Determine your desired focus and curriculum
Most undergraduate schools offer a general curriculum in a variety of subjects, but business
schools are typically known for specializing in one particular area of study,
such as finance or marketing. It's certainly not a prerequisite, but the
majority of b-school students go in with some job experience and an idea of
what they'll want to study. If you already have a focus in mind, you should consider
what your school options offer and whether the possibilities match up with your
Furthermore, you should consider each school's faculty. If a school has a research professor
that specializes in a subject you're particularly interested in, or offers a class
by a visiting professor from the business world whom you respect, this may help
you decide where to attend. What you learn is highly contingent on those who
will be teaching you, so take the time to properly research the faculty at each
prospective schools especially those within your desired area of focus. One way
to do this is by looking at the awards and recognitions earned by the
department in which you're interested. This should be relatively easy to find
on a b-school's website.
2) Get to know the campus culture
Since you're spending two full years of your life around campus, it's important that
you end up at a school whose culture jibes with your personality. For example,
perhaps it's important to you that a school has a diverse student and faculty
mix, hosts plenty of extracurricular activities, or
While it's great to get a feel for each campus in person, it's understandable if you can't
visit every school where you're accepted. To get a sense of a campus's culture,
reach out to current or recently graduated students who will have the best idea
of what their school's ever-evolving atmosphere is like. Obtaining multiple
opinions will give you the most well-rounded understanding of each school's
3) Evaluate the student and alumni network
Your future classmates will be very important in the years to come. Not only will
you have the opportunity to learn from the people with whom you are in school,
but they will be your most valuable network for the years following b-school
and, potentially, your entire career.
Active alumni associations provide additional networking opportunities and many also offer
career or networking advice. To know if your potential b-school has such
programs, talk to alumni of different ages and in different geographic
locations. While you're doing this, it would be helpful to gain an
understanding of what types of jobs graduates from the school are getting and whether
these roles match your own career aspirations.
4) Choose a location
Consider whether your options are in places you actually want to live. One of the big
considerations is whether you want to be at a city campus or a more traditional
college campus. With the former, students will be spread out across the city.
With the latter, students will make up a higher percentage of the overall
population and will therefore be more accessible to one another. This is a
matter of personal preference to you.
Just as important, consider where you want to live after you graduate from b-school.
While not always the case, a school's job feeder network is often localized to
the state or coast in which the school is located. If you know you want to live
on the East Coast after school, for example, make certain your schools can connect
you with East Coast employers.
5) Determine how much you're willing to spend
For many students, the and how much financial aid they
provide are top factors in determining where to get an MBA. The cost of the
school itself isn't the only financial factor you'll want to consider, though; take
into account the cost of living in each location. For example, the cost of
being in New York or San Francisco for two years will be much higher than that
of living in other places.
Additionally, consider your expected earnings after you graduate from each school. If one
school tends to place students in more lucrative jobs post-graduation, you'll
want to include this in your cost-value calculation as well. Would a higher
salaried position be likely, and if so, could it potentially pay off for you if
you were to opt for the higher-cost school and take out more in
There's a lot to consider when choosing a business school, but this work is worth it to
make sure you find the proper fit for your education and have the best job
prospects after you graduate. Good luck and happy researching!
CommonBond wants to help you achieve your professional goals. Our MBA alumni would be happy to take a look at your application essays and provide some feedback. Sign up here and one of us will be in touch!
And if you are applying to business school, forget to join CommonBond's Pre-MBA group on LinkedIn, where you can ask questions, connect to other "pre-MBAs," and be first to see exclusive b-school content.