Choosing the right MBA and the application process for the same are some of the most crucial and essential steps towards your professional career. With so many top-level MBA programs to choose among, the process can be daunting for those without any significant experience in higher education applications. If you are one such candidate, it is advised that you first go through an MBA program guide if you haven’t already done so. Once you are done with the prerequisites, walk through the five steps mentioned below to have an easier journey and pick the most suitable business school & the perfect MBA program.
Decide why you want an MBA in the first place
Most of the students are confused about why they should pursue an MBA. Therefore, it is essential to understand the reasons for undertaking an MBA. Do you need to know how choosing the right MBA will help your career? It might be a way to accelerate their career in the current industry, and for some, it could be a way of moving into a different sector.
You can choose from several factors, like your top priority being school, curriculum, location, or cost. Other factors are also available, but you must consider these as the primary factors while choosing an MBA program.
Now that you have understood why you want to get an MBA, you need to start applying to colleges. Generally, students think they should apply only to their dream B-schools and ignore all the other schools. But this is not true; you should apply to all those colleges that match your profile and not just focus on your dream college. The more applications you send in, the more chances that at least one of them will accept you.
Decide where you want to live and work
The location of your business school is what matters in both cases – to you and any recruiter. If you want to work on the east coast, you want to look at Harvard or Columbia. But if you are looking for a job on the west coast, there is no better place than Stanford.
You need to remember that if you plan to stay in that region after graduating, then it makes sense to attend a business school in that area. Your alumni network will be more robust while looking for jobs because most of your classmates will stay there. Also, the recruiters who come to your campus recruiting sessions (or the ones you reach out to) will be from companies in that area.
Choosing the right MBA among full-time and part-time MBA programs
Most full-time MBA programs are 1 to 2 years long. Full-time programs are immersive and more comprehensive, but part-time ones let you work while studying.
The most common choice is the full-time MBA program. It can be completed in one or two years, depending on your school’s curriculum. Most full-time MBA programs are designed for recent graduates with little or no work experience. Part-time MBA programs usually take two or three years to complete. This way, you can work while you gain your degree. Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are designed for working professionals with several years of managerial experience under their belt. EMBA classes generally meet once a week on weekends. These programs tend to last anywhere from 14 to 30 months, depending on the school and the intensity of the curriculum.
Evaluate the Return On Investment (ROI) for your target programs
You will have to decide whether to go for an MBA somewhere in your career. Maybe it’s right now; perhaps it’s years down the road.
But how will you know if it’s worth the investment?
The Financial Times Ranking might help because it will show you a lot of these numbers to compare and contrast readily.
The most crucial aspect to consider when choosing between business schools is ROI: What is the return on my investment in time and money?
In calculating ROI, applicants must know that business schools with the highest tuition rates don’t always offer the best return on investment. MBA is like your future investment and any given amount & time is equally precious.
Evaluate MBA school fit and your chances of getting in
While rankings help, you can’t just look at the rankings and decide on an MBA program. The rankings only tell you how good the school is; they don’t tell you how suited it is for you.
The hardest thing about picking an MBA program is whether your personality matches its culture. Business schools are like fraternities or religions: there’s a lot of conformity, and you’ll find it hard to be happy there unless you fit in. You need to go to a school where most people are like you because you’ll feel out of place and uncomfortable if you don’t. And if you’re uncomfortable, it will be harder to work hard and get a good grade, which means recruiters won’t want to hire you in the end.
So when considering an MBA program, ask yourself: what kind of people do I want to spend two years with? The answer doesn’t have to be “people just like me.” Maybe you feel constrained by people just like you and want people who challenge your assumptions instead. (I felt that way.) In that case, ask yourself which schools have people who seem most different from me–and could I learn from them? Speaking to alumni can be a great way to do this.
The last thing you want to do is apply to schools you want to go to but cannot get admitted to. Also, research your chances of getting into the programs highest on your list. A professional consultant can help you evaluate this. You can also speak to alumni and current students to get some idea of your competitiveness.
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