What full-time MBA program would be best for you?
Many people these days put the full weight of an MBA program behind where the school ranks in the polls, such as BusinessWeek’s and especially the one by USNews. For those of you only interested in the rankings I’ll include a link to both at the bottom of this article so you can just scroll down. For the rest of you, you’ll want to consider the following questions:
1) What expertise/concentration do you want (i.e. Marketing, Finance, etc.)? If you don’t have a preference yet, which many don’t before starting school, that not a problem. It just means that you’ll have time to see what classes you like before deciding. However, if you do have a preference you’ll not only want to make sure that your future school has a concentration in that area but that it also offers a large selection of classes in that area.
2) Should you do a one-year program or two-year? The answer to this should be based on your budget and your past work experience. Returning to school can be expensive. Many students run up $100,000 or more in debt before they graduate. Keep in mind that the longer you’re in school the more debt you’ll accumulate. However, if you have zero to no experience in the field you’re wanting to enter you should consider a two-year program. This will allow you to complete an internship over the summer between your first and second years, hopefully in your new field. Not only will you get worthwhile work experience but you’ll also have your foot in the door at a company in your field.
3) What region of the world do you want to live in after you graduate? Many schools, even those ranked in the top 50, are very regionally focused. Their contacts for job placement may only be in the state or region where they’re located. For instance, the school I’m attending receives 90% of its job leads from within the state. The other 10% come from bordering states. I had to do most of my job search on my own because I decided that I wanted to live in a different area after graduation.
4) How big is the class size? Class size can affect you in two ways. One is obvious the other may not be. A small class size means that you’ll probably have more personal attention from your instructors. From my own experience, this is very beneficial. However, the size of your class also affects the size and number of companies that will recruit there. Because my class size is smaller than most, our school has trouble convincing larger companies to come to campus to recruit. It only makes sense. If you were a recruiter would you rather go to a school where you’d probably have 150 applicants or 15?
Once you’ve answered these questions you should have a few schools in mind. From this point you should consider visiting the campus and talking with some of the faculty and students. Also, I suggest applying to at least one school that you think is out of reach. You never know. Luckily I was accepted and will be graduating from a school that I thought was out of reach. If you don’t take the chance you’ll never know. Look for my upcoming articles on MBA GPAs and MBA networking tips.
Link to USNews Ranking – http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/mba/brief/mbarank_brief.php
Link to BusinessWeek Ranking – http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/06/full_time.htm