Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
On our blog and in public presentations, we have tried to persuade candidates to eschew rankings, which fluctuate frequently (and sometimes wildly), and instead pay attention to fit, which is enduring. Now, as the admissions season gets under way at HBS and is on the verge of beginning at other top business schools, we recommend that you accelerate your evaluative process.
One way to get beyond rankings is to speak with students. Even if you don’t have direct access to students, reaching out to them in a targeted way can be quite easy, via club Web sites. You should not feel “pushy” when emailing or contacting a student this way, because most students take pride in their school and are open to speaking with candidates. They are a de facto part of the school’s marketing arm. So, if you are interested in a certain school for its marketing program, for example, you can reach out to the individual (or individuals) leading the marketing club to learn more about the program (and the club!). Of course, you should be respectful of each individual’s time and be well prepared for your conversation. Assuming that you are conscientious, you will have the opportunity to learn about the academic environment and then leave time to find out more about the atmosphere on campus. Networking now should allow you to begin narrowing your search and more effectively focus your limited “free” time over the next few months.