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How to Select the Best Business Schools? (Q&A)

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Selecting the best business schools for you is half the battle for success. The right selection determines your chances for admission, but also your overall MBA experience and post-graduation progress.

More than 13,500 schools offer business degree programmes worldwide. What is the most effective approach which can help you identify the best business schools for you?

Find expert advice in the summary of the Q&A live session conducted by PrepAdviser in January 2015. Iliana Bobova, Head of Admissions Consulting at PrepAdviser answers the questions of potential applicants from different parts of the world. Candidates are at different stages of their preparation for MBA or Master’s admission.

Q: Hello, I have a question about the MBA programme application. I am very confused about it right now. I have done the GMAT, but my score is way less than what is needed for my target schools. Moreover, I have low undergraduate grades too. So, I am wondering. I know a lot of people say that GMAT doesn’t matter much for the application. But I have written to my target school and they are saying that GMAT should be improved. So, the confusion is should I wait for this school or select another? My current GMAT score is 630.

A: There are two strategies: 1. Retake the GMAT after more preparation 2. Select other schools. I believe you can improve to over 650 with a bit more focused study and retaking the GMAT within a month or two. In the meantime, look for more schools. 650 on the GMAT will be good enough for many schools, but you have to prepare a really outstanding application package (essays, recommendations, CV/resume, etc.) as well.

Q: What is the key point in choosing a business school? There are many business schools and sometimes it’s really hard to make decisions?

A: It is really important to clarify what you expect from your studies. Think about it in detail and make your own list of at least 10 selection criteria. Then you will know what you will be looking for. Find details here. There is an enormous choice. Just take one or two months to think about your dream school and dream programme. List every aspect which is important to you. You will be able to find such programmes.

Q: I am interested in an executive MBA. When choosing a business school I will be considering the following: Executive MBA ranking (especially by FT ); accreditations; location (Europe, Asia); price, scholarships; schedule (f.e. 1 weekend per month); cost of apartments, flight tickets; ability to work on real projects as a consultant

A: You should add more of your own selection criteria related to the programme/curriculum, the student body and class profile. All criteria should be related to your immediate post MBA goals and how the MBA programme can help you. Also, you should think carefully about rankings. Are they really important for your post MBA career? Each ranking uses different methodology and criteria for ranking the schools. Look deep into these methodologies first. Then select which ranking is most applicable for you. Look into this comparison. Also, do not limit yourself just to the top 10 schools in the rankings, unless the industry you wish to work in really requires this. If not – be flexible. The top 100 are still the top of all schools globally.

Q: What is the best strategy for selecting business schools, if the business school rankings are fast changing in 0-2-3-4 years? My business school undergraduate degree ranking was in the top 50 in Europe lists 4 years ago, but now dropped 20 places down in the lists.

A: First, it is not obligatory to use rankings when selecting b-schools. If your post-MBA goals require that you study in a top MBA programme, then OK. But in most cases, this is not the case. Second, if you will be trying to convince someone that you studied in a well-ranked programme, you have to show the ranking from the time when you studies at the school. It is common that schools drop or rise in rankings. Finally, as I mentioned above, having in mind the overall number of business programmes in the world, any programme which is in the top 100 of the rankings is still one of the best. Also, always look at the methodology of rankings, before you decide to use them. Some of the rankings’ selection criteria may not be relevant to yours. Here is a very handy and helpful comparison table: Business Schools Rankings – Part 5 (Comparison)

Q: How can I be confident that my selection is right and FIT for me?

A: The only way you can be sure about it is to start building your own list of selection criteria. Take some time and describe your ‘dream school/programme’. Then, start checking which schools offer what you need. When you look for information from the schools, make a checklist where you can mark only Yes/No.
For example: You want to have a practical project with a company in another country. Does the school offer that – Yes/No? You want the school to have a Career Centre working with the MBA students. Does the school have that – Yes/No? You may also wish to put some score or weight to some of your criteria. This will help you make a really precise final comparison and selection.

Q: Are all good schools equally good?

A: No, because not every good school offers what you need. Always look deep into the programmes – curriculum, student body, recruiters, etc. Although all of them are ranked as good schools, they are very different from each other. You need to look deep into the programmes and compare with your own criteria. For example, some of the top US MBAs may have very different cultures – one school may create a very competitive atmosphere, another school – a very cooperative environment. Which one do you prefer? Some schools have students from 90 different countries, others – just from 10.

If you were unable to join this live chat on how to select the best business schools, you can still post your questions in the Forum and Blog. Take the opportunity to join our next chat sessions covering a variety of topics on MBA and Master’s admissions.

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