So, you got accepted into more than one B-School and now you don’t know what to do.
It’s a good problem to have – probably the best one you can have – but a problem nonetheless.
- Which do you choose?
- And how do you make that decision?
Well, you can flip a coin… or consult a psychic… or take these three criteria into account and make a smart, informed decision:
1. Brand Name, Otherwise Known As Reputation
In the world of business, NOTHING is more important than brand name and reputation. And this isn’t just about a great name on your resume. Since so many OTHER people are making the same MBA decisions based on brand name, applicants entering the “best schools” are exposed to the smartest people, the most influential alumni network, and the best opportunities. This is how the game is played. Too many MBA applicants make the mistake of going to Program A because it has the “best real estate program,” for example, when they should really just go to the best school they can get into. Harvard Business School, for example, only offers one real estate class. But if you get in and you wanna get into the real estate business, of course you should go to Harvard, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world, and not Program A.
2. Campus Culture
Assuming that you are choosing between two comparably ranked programs, the next step is to visit. Dig deep, meet with people, and see how the campus feels. An applicant’s gut reaction is VERY valuable in these situations, as business schools DO have distinct personalities.
If you are choosing between U of Chicago and Kellogg for example, two comparably ranked programs, it is CRITICAL to feel the vibe on both campuses. Why? Because they couldn’t be more different! Chicago is intense and academic, and Kellogg is far more collegial, but you will never get a true sense for this unless you experience the campuses first-hand. The schools host their own “meet and greet” weekends; go to them, and stay longer. Feel it for yourself.
3. Post-MBA Life
Some schools have GREAT success at getting recent MBA graduates jobs. Some schools, for that matter, have notoriously ineffective career services and recruiting departments. Indiana University (Kelley), for example, has a FABULOUS track record at placing its graduates in jobs, far better than other programs that are “higher ranked,” and isn’t getting a job the point of getting an MBA?
So, it is certainly worth investigating the statistics – compare starting salaries, percentage of graduates employed, etc. And of course, reach out to current students and recent alums; they will know the inside scoop. Ask ‘em point blank, “Are your friends getting good jobs?”
With these three guideposts at your side, you should be just fine to decide between two programs. First consider reputation, then how the schools feel, then your chances of getting a JOB. Do NOT focus on scholarships, as tempting as it may be to do so. After all, $20,000 here or there would amount to next to nothing ten or twenty years from now… if you go to a fabulous program.