Researching on business schools to figure out the best fit ones is an extremely nerve jarring process.
Is it scientific or do you go with your gut?
Or do you stay fixated to rankings and brands?
Do you make a list of colleges based on geography, course structure and placements?
Do you look at things like environment, international student body and social factors?
Or do you look at, ROI ?
There’s a good chance, you answered yes to all of the above. However, zeroing in on the perfect combo of 5-6 schools may seem daunting. This is especially true if you do not consider the most important parameters relevant to your profile and start looking at colleges solely based on brands, ranking or endorsements from friends and family because it seems like the easy way out.
What then is the best way to start looking?
Start at the ending. Look closely at where you see yourself and what you envision doing. Then look at the most likely way to reach your destination post MBA. Look at schools which actively place students in the industry and function of your choice.
Should you rely solely on rankings?
Rankings by all means can be the beginning of your program search but you do not want to solely base your decision on these. Most rankings are surveys and data which help students to compare schools on various criteria like reputation, recruiter satisfaction and are not very accurate measures of the educational quality of institutions. And really, course offerings are different from school to school and individual criteria and personal expectations of a student vary so an excellent “fit” school for one might not even be on a list of another. This is why there is no substitute to doing your own detailed research. Randomly applying to schools just based on rankings can lead to disappointment later. I am not discouraging you to not refer to rankings but only to use them to SUPPLEMENT your own research.
What you should really do:
1. There is nothing compared to conducting a detailed research after narrowing down a couple of schools. Start looking closely at school websites, research on the curriculum and faculty and try making personal connections with these schools either through direct contact ( connecting with the admissions office or visiting the school campus) , through fairs, virtual information sessions or current students and alumni.
2. Pay very close attention to the companies hiring at your target schools. Many offer complete employment reports on their websites but in case they don’t, you can always reach out to their career development centres directly. They are always happy to help.
3. Scrutinise the target programme and each of its components. Also look at extracurricular activities on offer and see if these are in sync with your educational needs. Remember, the school should appeal to you on a professional and personal level and you need to be 100 % convinced of your choice.
4. Utilise every opportunity to interact with current students and alumni to get first hand perspectives on the quality of course and its impact on their careers. An insider’s peep will also help you decipher if the school’s values are in sync with your own.
Lastly, do not miss any opportunity to visit the school campus if possible. You will probably not get any bonus points on account of having made the effort, but the preparedness and thoroughness will definitely reflect in the quality of your application, taking you a bit closer to the ultimate goal.