Many second-round applicants are about to hear back from their target MBA programs and a lucky few will be admitted to several of their dream schools.
Given that each of the top programs offer a wholly unique business school experience, it is easy to become overwhelmed by multiple offers. Before you put down your deposit, step back and consider these five factors to ensure you’re making the best choice – for you.
1. Career goals – While you did a great job on that career goals section of your application, odds are that you weren’t 100 per cent devoted to the objectives outlined there.
Since then, new school rankings and data points have emerged and, most importantly, you've had new professional and personal experiences over the last few months.
Do you now want to work at a start-up instead of a multinational corporation? Is one of your programs pioneering the perfect incubator for your new green energy plan? Reassess your MBA programs to confirm which one now best matches your current ambitions.
2. School community – Hearken back to your campus visit. (Haven't gone? Schedule one if at all possible!) Think about whether these are the students you want to surround yourself with as you complete this important milestone in your education and career.
Talk to as many students and alums as possible. How well do you think the program has prepared them for their careers? MBAs would also benefit from considering their fit within the university’s broader community.
Entrepreneurs should take note: If a business school is part of the same university system as an innovative engineering or design college, you could be better positioned to find your co-founders or willing advisors during your time there.
3. Cost – With some MBAs carrying six-figure debt, a program’s cost is nothing to sneeze at. Take a close look at your finances and – factoring in any scholarships you may have just earned (congrats!) –make sure you've planned for every opportunity.
Often, financial aid offices have resources, such as webinars, to help candidates understand the cost of an MBA. You could also consider an online tool like a business school student loan calculator to customize your budget before reaching out.
4. Fit – If you haven't factored this in yet, consider your "fit" in a more informal sense. You like the students, but would the 300-person class size make you claustrophobic? Do you love everything about the campus, besides the fact that it's across the world from where you want to live post-MBA?
Even if you’ve been admitted to programs in the same area, you are likely facing very different on-campus experiences in terms of neighbourhoods and lifestyles.
Perhaps two of the most important elements of “fit” are people and environment. Beyond your on-campus experience itself, your MBA is an opportunity to try out living and a chance to build your network in a totally new location for several months. These are all considerations for those lucky enough to receive multiple business school offers.
5. Gut reaction – It may sound silly, but don't discount your gut. Maybe you can’t forget the rush you felt when you stepped on one school’s campus for the first time, or you always wanted to attend this program because that’s where the co-workers you admired most went.
Don’t discount those experiences – you’re right more often than you know.
Kaitlin Butler is the Content Manager at CommonBond, a student lending platform that provides a better student loan experience through lower rates and a commitment to community, and previously spent several years at an MBA admissions consulting firm.