If you are looking forward toward your MBA, it's been a few years since you've had to research prospective schools. Now it's time to get back into it and find the best graduate school for you. You'll find that you are looking for a lot of the same things that you were looking for when you picked your undergrad school. Overall cost of attendance is a factor, as well as scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Location is still important. Reputation of the prospective school is important. Yet there are things you want to consider when looking for a grad school that you may overlook.
1. Visit the Campus
When you were in high school, you likely made visits to college campuses to decide which one fits for you. Now that you've been in college for a few years, you may overlook this step, thinking that you understand what college life is like. Yet the culture and environment can be very different at different schools. Visiting the campus is a necessary step because it can give you an experiential understanding of the school and gives you opportunity to talk to students and administration at the school.
2. Talk to Students at Your Prospective School
When you do visit, try to talk to as many students as you can and get a feel for why they chose to attend this graduate program, how they feel about their classes and their progression through the program.
3. Consider what you Plan to Do with Your MBA
There are many schools that offer MBA programs, but not all of these programs are equal – especially if you consider how you are planning to use your degree. Someone who is planning on entering the corporate workforce and enter management or an executive position will need different skills than someone who is planning on becoming an entrepreneur and starting their own business, for example. When investigating a school, take a look at the classes offered. Can you tailor your degree to fit your specific needs?
4. What Kind of End Result Does the School Produce?
For many, an MBA is the last step in education before they enter the workforce. Now, more than ever, it is important to know how desirable graduates from a particular program are, in the industry or discipline you are planning to enter. You are investing a lot of money in yourself, make sure that the end product will be in high demand.
5. Start Early
Give yourself time to research a number of MBA Programs, so that you can narrow your list down to a few schools you think would be a perfect fit for you. It's best to avoid putting yourself in a situation where you are rushing through the decision process at the last minute. It can be difficult to fit school research into your already busy schedule, but doing so now will save stress later.
Searching for the right school is always a mix of objective and subjective information. You look for the hard numbers - the data that supports whether the program is a good program, but you also ask yourself if you feel the school is a good fit and if you can see yourself attending the school. Both of these are important and both take time and patience to cultivate. Good luck and happy hunting.