Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
5 Things to Weigh Before Applying to B-School
All aspiring MBAs must decide how many and which business schoolsto apply to; the key is to be aware of where you are in the application "window"—or where you are in life in general.
The vast majority of MBA students are in their mid-20s to early 30s. Only a small portion comes directly from college, and only a few attend full-time business school in their late-30s or 40s. But even within the prime eight-year window—from 24 to 32—applicants should consider five issues when deciding where to apply.
1. Age: Many applicants in their mid-20s decide to apply only to their first two choices, figuring that if they don't get in, they can reapply down the line when they have more experience. While this approach may work for some younger candidates, it's not recommended for applicants who are a bit older. Instead,older candidates should apply to a wider array of schools to ensure that they will at least have the option of attending business school next fall.
Of course, the best scenario involves an intelligent mix of "reach" and "safety" schools that will yield a choice of MBA programs for the applicant. Unfortunately, some candidates get on a misguided "Harvard or Stanford … or nothing!" kick that doesn't serve anyone's interests.
2. Career path: Some MBA aspirants hold positions where they can continue for many years, but others work in areas, such as consulting or investment banking, where policy or tradition encourages young employees to get further education.
In environments where one can continue to advance unfettered, a candidate might consider applying solely to his or her top choice programs. However, candidates coming from companies with two- to three-year analyst programs, which don't allow for much upward progression, should probably cast their nets wider and assemble a bigger portfolio of schools.
[Learn more about applying to business school.]
3. Career track satisfaction: Several MBA applicants, who feel locked in roles that are too technical or too narrowly defined, have told me they want to apply to just a couple of very highly ranked programs.
However, when people hope to transition to either an entirely new role or industry sooner rather than later, they should apply to a broad range of business schools. There are incredible programs throughout the top 20 in the b-school rankings (and even beyond) that can provide the classes, career programs, and alumni networks that aid this kind of transition.
4. First timer or reapplicant: A candidate who is going through his or her second round of business school applications should almost always apply to more schools. If the candidate is applying a couple of years down the line after dramatically improving her experience base, then she might add two or three new schools to the mix, but should still target her top programs from a few years before.
However, if the candidate is applying the very next year without significant changes in role, experience, or extracurriculars, he should pursue a different base of schools, with perhaps one or two holdovers from the previous year.
5. Family considerations: Taking two years to get an MBA is not just a business decision—it's also a life decision. Sometimes, the interests of boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, or children are critical factors in making the decision of if, when, and where to apply. These considerations are much more complex and varied than the factors listed above, so it's difficult to work through them in depth here.
For instance, some students want to get through business school quickly so they can start a family afterward, while others may view business school (with day care, low travel requirements, etc.) as a great environment to begin to build up their brood.
Candidates should talk with family, friends, and mentors (and potentially an MBA application adviser) early in the process to determine where they are in this window for business school. It's an absolutely critical step in managing this multi-month application process thoughtfully.
Question to applicants: "Why an MBA, and why this program?" Some do so explicitly on the application, while others pose the question during the interview stage. Either way, you need to know enough about the schools you are applying to so you can answer the question properly.
Don't leave it to the various rankings to decide your list of schools for you. A lot of applicants forget that they are the customer—and should be the ones making the decision.
Schools are constantly tweaking their programs, printing cutting-edge brochures, and traveling from city to city to convince you—the prospective MBA—to consider their programs. Your personal ranking and fit with schools can differ widely from what the leading magazines and websites may suggest, so it's important to have at least some sense of what you are looking for before you start your research.
[Watch a video with tips for choosing an MBA program.]
Each MBA application will cost you a couple of hundred dollars and dozens of hours, so make sure the programs you choose to apply to have most of the things—both large and small—that you want from a school.
Are you looking for a program that is strong in generalmanagement and leadership? Or are you more interested in brushing up on your financial and accounting knowledge to complement your existing skillset?
To find answers to those questions, be proactive. Go to the information sessions and ask real questions. Many candidates try to use these sessions as a forum for impressing the admissions officers, which I don't believe is a very fruitful strategy. Call the admissions department and ask for the names of recent alumni in your area. Get in touch with one or more of those folks and take them out for a coffee.
When it comes to your essays, I can't tell you how many first drafts I've read that cite the "unmatched student body, world-class faculty, and committed alumni network" as the reasons the applicant has chosen a certain MBA program. This person has said nothing.
You need to get specific in order to demonstrate to admissions officials that you've taken the time to thoroughly research the school, and that you have some legitimate reasons why you think their program fits well with your professional needs.
[Check out 6 tips for getting to the heart of your MBA application.]
That said, don't hold yourself to too high a standard here; you're not going to blow the committee away with some statement that shows you are the figurative "soul mate" of their MBA program. I doubt any director of admissions has ever exclaimed, "My gosh, when she mentioned our emphasis onentrepreneurship, I just knew she had to be a part of our community!"
While you'll have to dive deep in preparation for interviews, you can effectively research schools in just a few hours. Read firsthand accounts of the schools through blogs and guest posts on popular websites.
Also place particular emphasis on the following offerings or traits of the school to see the ways they mesh with your professional goals, learning agenda, personality, and preferences:
• Program format: Explore aspects such as case study method vs. lecture; traditional vs. accelerated; opportunities for study abroad; and opportunities for "hands on learning."
• Academic offerings: Research specific classes in your areas of interest. Don't make a laundry list; find a couple of courses and show how they might impact you.
• Faculty: Cite specific professors that you might want meet with, help with research, etc.
[Learn how to contact professors as a grad school applicant.]
• Initiatives: Often schools will emphasize certain disciplines or issues for several years, and will host events and develop new classes on those topics. These series may have names like, "The Entrepreneurship Program," "The Healthcare Initiative," or "The Technology Roundtable."
• Field studies: Check out faculty support for independent research, business plan development, etc.
• Cross-registration opportunities: What other resources does this university have to offer?
• Clubs: Explore academic and extracurricular groups available at the school.
Four to six sentences of solid material on "Why our program?" should set you up nicely. If you have the time and means to schedule a campus visit beforehand, you'll have an even better sense of the program, allowing you to be more convincing when you discuss the school's fit. Successfully articulating how a particular program suits your needs is a crucial first step in the b-school application process.
Saturday, 6 October 2012
|The Best One-Year MBA Programms in the U.S.|
Poets and Quants, Official Websites.