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Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 11am

Beyond Rankings: 5 Aspects to Choosing a School

choosing an MBA

Future applicants to business school often state that their plans are to apply to top-15 or M7 schools. When asked why that’s the plan, they rarely have an actual answer, other than because they are the best business schools. When you consider the amount of time, money and effort that goes into this entire process, that type of answer is incredibly vague. While we can all agree that a particular school or program ‘ranking’ is worthwhile – as that reputation would extend to you once you earned a degree from that school – there are many other factors to consider, like MBA scholarships and your career goals when choosing the best business schools to apply to. 

1) Certain schools/programs are ‘feeders’ into particular organizations or industries, so properly defining your post-graduation career goals can help you to choose the best business school to match-up with those goals. 

2) Alumni contacts and school reputation can often be more meaningful in certain localized areas. Thus, if you see yourself living in a certain part of the world for a lengthy period of time after earning your MBA, you might want to think about a school that is closer to where you plan to live.

3) Full-time vs. Part-time programs offer different advantages, so you have to consider how you want your education to proceed and how your education best helps you reach your career goals. There’s also the factor of whether you will want to stay employed full time while in business school or not. Different programs also have differing numbers of applicants and different acceptance rates. 

4) There can be significant trade-offs when trying to identify the best business school for you. If you have to move your entire life to another part of the world, then that can be a rather large process and could significantly impact family members. Considering a program that is taught primarily online might be something to consider if you do not want to disrupt your life too much.

5) How you plan to pay for your tuition can be a huge factor in the entire decision-making process, especially when you consider your career goals. Whether you pay for schooling out-of-pocket, or plan to apply for MBA scholarships, grants orloans, those costs have to be considered.  A larger MBA scholarship from a lesser-ranked school might turn that school into one of your best business schools.

If you’re currently studying for the GMAT, then it’s understandable that you might not currently have answers to all of the “big-picture” questions. However, all of the above details have to be considered and properly researched, so that you can put together the best overall plan. Obviously, much of this is dependent on how you score on the official GMAT, but that’s one part of the plan that everyone probably knows already.

Rich Cohen is the cofounder of EMPOWERgmat, an immersive on-demand GMAT course system, providing affordable worldwide access to the high-grade instruction. In 2013, EMPOWERgmat opened to the public. It has grown dramatically since then, training thousands of MBA and master's hopefuls serious about beating the GMAT. The course is featured as a premier GMAT test prep provider on Beat the GMAT, TopMBA, and other highly-respected venues. Prior to cofounding EMPOWERgmat, Rich was recognized as an elite GMAT researcher, content creator and instructor in varied standardized testing fields, including the GMAT, GRE and LSAT.

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