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How to Choose an MBA Program That Fits YOU

September 20, 2023 :: Admissionado Team

Choosing a B school

Choosing the right MBA program is a pivotal decision that can shape the trajectory of your career. With hundreds of schools to consider, each offering unique strengths, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, focusing on the key factors that truly matter—such as school reputation, alumni networks, and program resources—can help you make an informed choice. In this guide, we’ll explore how to choose an MBA program that aligns with your goals and maximizes your potential for success.

Understanding the Value of an MBA

We first need to pin down the purpose of pursuing an MBA. Why do people take a two-year break in their career to assume the financial burden of earning an MBA? Because they have big plans. Certainly, each applicant’s reasons will be different. Some want to change gears in their career and switch to an emerging industry; some want to fast-track to an advanced leadership role in their organization; some have aspirations of starting their own business and rocking the industry in the process (we see you there, Stitchfix). If you strip away the motivational differences between all of these paths, the common denominator is that an MBA applicant has ambitious, spine-tingly goals, an intention to boldly go where no one has gone before, and wants to make a big impact on the business world. They just need some rocket fuel to initiate that successful trajectory. That fuel is an MBA degree.

Why Admissionado Advocates for Top-Tier Programs

At Admissionado, we push clients to aim for top-ranked programs because the benefits are substantial. These schools not only provide excellent education but also offer unparalleled networking opportunities and resources. Top-tier programs walk the walk, demonstrating excellence in ways that significantly benefit their students. For example, consider the impact of networking with alumni like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (HBS MBA ’95) or Apple CEO Tim Cook (Fuqua MBA ’88).

Key Factors to Consider

1. Reputation and Ranking

Reputation is a cornerstone of selecting an MBA program. Attending a highly-ranked school opens doors to prestigious faculty, robust alumni networks, and recognition by employers worldwide. Graduates from top-tier programs enjoy better job opportunities and higher starting salaries. For instance, having Harvard Business School or Stanford GSB on your resume can make a significant impact on your career trajectory. Aim to attend the best school you can get into. The brand name on your resume can open doors that lesser-known programs cannot.

2. Alumni Network

A strong alumni network is one of the most valuable assets of a top-tier MBA program. The connections you make during your studies can provide mentorship, job opportunities, and lifelong friendships. Top programs have extensive, active alumni networks that can support you throughout your career. For example, networking with alumni from Harvard Business School or Stanford GSB can significantly enhance your professional trajectory.

3. Program Resources and Opportunities

Cutting-edge programs offer unique opportunities that set them apart. These might include access to exclusive research projects, mentorship from industry leaders, or unique learning experiences like international study trips. For instance, Wharton’s focus on big data analytics or Columbia’s Executives in Residence program provide invaluable experiences that are hard to find elsewhere.

4. Return on Investment (ROI)

While MBA programs are expensive, the long-term return on investment can be substantial. Graduates from top programs often see significant increases in their earning potential. For example, MBA graduates from Stanford GSB report starting salaries significantly higher than those from lower-ranked schools. When considering an MBA, look at the salary statistics and employment rates of graduates to gauge the potential ROI.

5. On-Campus Recruiting

Top employers frequently recruit directly from top MBA programs. Schools like Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management host recruiting events with elite companies from diverse industries. This direct access to top employers can streamline your job search and provide exciting career opportunities right out of school.

Steps to Choose the Right MBA Program

1. Research Extensively

Start by researching various MBA programs to understand what they offer. Look beyond marketing materials to get a real sense of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. Utilize resources like school websites, alumni interviews, and campus visits to gather detailed information.

2. Assess Your Profile Realistically

Be honest about your qualifications and how they align with the programs you’re considering. Look at average GMAT scores, work experience, and other criteria to determine where you stand. While it’s important to aim high, it’s also crucial to apply to a mix of reach, match, and safety schools.

3. Consider Your Long-Term Goals

Think about how each program will help you achieve your career goals. Do you want to work in a specific industry? Look for schools with strong connections in that field. Are you aiming for a leadership role? Consider programs known for their leadership training and development.

4. Visit Campuses

If possible, visit the campuses of the schools you’re interested in. This will give you a sense of the culture and environment. Talk to current students and faculty to get a feel for the community and support systems in place.

5. Leverage Alumni Networks

Reach out to alumni from the programs you’re considering. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of each school. Alumni can also offer advice on the application process and tips for making the most of your MBA experience.

Other Things to Consider After Getting Accepted

Congratulations! Receiving acceptance letters from MBA programs is an exciting and rewarding achievement. However, with multiple offers on the table, the decision-making process can be challenging. Here are key factors to consider to help you choose the right MBA program after getting accepted:

  1. Location and Lifestyle

Consider the location of each program and how it fits with your personal preferences and professional goals. Think about the cost of living, cultural environment, and potential for local job opportunities post-graduation. The right location can enhance your overall MBA experience and provide a conducive environment for your studies and career growth.

  1. Financial Considerations

Examine the financial aspects of each offer, including tuition costs, available scholarships, and potential financial aid. Calculate the total cost of attendance and consider how it fits with your budget and financial situation. While it’s important to aim for the best program, also ensure that the financial commitment is manageable.

  1. Campus Culture and Fit

Reflect on your campus visits and interactions with current students and faculty. Each program has a unique culture and environment. Consider where you felt most comfortable and where you can see yourself thriving. The right fit can significantly impact your MBA experience and overall satisfaction.

  1. Job Placement and Career Services

Investigate the job placement rates and the effectiveness of career services at each program. Look at the employment reports and see which schools have the highest placement rates in your desired industry. Strong career services can provide invaluable support in securing internships and job placements post-MBA.


Choosing the right MBA program is a critical step that requires careful consideration of various factors. By focusing on reputation, alumni networks, program resources, ROI, and on-campus recruiting, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your career goals. Remember, the key is to choose the best program you can get into and leverage the opportunities it offers to propel your career forward. With thorough research and strategic planning, you can set yourself on the path to success.