Narrowing Down Your List of B-Schools

by , Jul 1, 2011

There's more to choosing the right MBA program than simply matching up your GMAT score and GPA with b-schools on the top 10 list. Who you are as a person, what your skills, accomplishments, and experiences are, and what your interests and goals are all need to be assessed before you start thinking about which schools to apply to. Furthermore, a good deal of school research is required of you to determine "school fit" and to whittle down a too-long list of schools into a reasonable list of 5-6 programs.

So how do you establish school fit? How do you determine which schools should make it onto your "apply to" list and which ones don't make the cut?

There are a number of factors you need to consider when narrowing down your list of business school choices.

  1. Assess your profile What are your qualifications? What experiences have you had that make you qualified for your target programs?
  2. Assess your needs and interests What are you looking for in an MBA program? What aspects of a program (educational, social, professional) are important to you? Which are less important or not important at all?
  3. School research Once you've determined what's important for you in an MBA program, it's time to do your research to establish which programs cater to your interests and needs. For example, HBS may look fondly at your GMAT score, but if you seek a program that emphasizes experiential learning, it may not be the best place for you.
  4. Be practical After you've assessed your qualifications and needs and studied the schools, you may find that the perfect program for you is not necessarily the most convenient. London Business School may be your dream program, but if your job or family requires you to be stateside, then it's still not the best school for you. Cost and scholarship/fellowship availability may also help you narrow down a too-long list.

Do you need help creating a list of schools to apply to? Check out A Winning MBA Application Strategy for more tips on creating a realistic list of target business schools.