Mission Admission: Look at B-Schools Beyond the Rankings

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

On our blog, in our publications and in public presentations, we have tried repeatedly to persuade business school candidates who are deciding which MBA programs to target to downplay rankings, which fluctuate frequently (and sometimes wildly), and instead focus on fit, which is enduring. Now, as the admissions season is about to begin, we recommend that you accelerate and broaden your evaluative process.

One way to look beyond rankings is to speak with current MBA students. Even if you do not have direct access to students, reaching out to them in a targeted way can be quite easy, via club Web sites and even Facebook pages. You should not feel “pushy” when 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 program for its entrepreneurship program, for example, you can reach out to the individual (or individuals) leading the entrepreneurship 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. If you are conscientious, you will be able to gain some great insight into the school’s academic environment and then have time to find out more about the atmosphere on campus. Networking now should enable you to begin narrowing your search and more effectively focus your limited “free” time over the next few months.

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