Identifying fit is the most important aspect of the MBA application and decision making process. Due to its vague definition, however, prospective students can find themselves looking for guidance when comparing their target schools. Finding the right MBA program for you takes significant time and effort. By identifying your needs and expectations you can get one step closer to making an informed and confident decision on where you want to pursue your graduate business education.
Step 1: Remember your objectives. The MBA application process is one that is easy to get caught up in, and when it comes time to make a final decision it can feel a bit overwhelming. At this point it’s important to remember why you wanted to pursue a graduate business degree in the first place. Are you wanting to change industries or functions? Do you see a skills gap? Do you seek opportunities to hone your leadership skills in a supportive environment? Are you hoping to expand your network? Write down these objectives and then compare your target schools. Will these programs help you achieve these goals?
Step 2: Define fit. The definition of “fit” is subjective to you and what you value as important in your MBA experience. Take time to define the intangibles of graduate school that are most important to you. For example, what is your ideal learning environment? What culture do you want to be a part of – collaborative or competitive? If moving with a partner or spouse, are you looking for a community that will support your family as they embark on this journey with you? How accessible do you want faculty and staff to be? This exercise is designed to make you consider your whole MBA experience and qualify what’s most important to you.
Step 3: Visit! Visiting a school is by far the best way to understand whether or the MBA program will meet your needs. Most programs, including the Wisconsin MBA Program, offer campus visit opportunities which can give you a sense of the faculty and staff would work with. While taking time off from work and traveling to different schools around the country is a considerable investment, it’s well worth the time if you’re able to be confident in your final decision.
Step 4: Talk to everyone. Speaking with current students, staff and alumni can be a strong indicator of the culture of a program. Students provide insight into what the next two years of your life could look like. They’ll be able to share how faculty have supported them in terms of mastering learning objectives, how staff have connected them with professional development opportunities, and how alumni have provided insight on industry know-how. Alumni can share the larger perspective on how this degree shaped their career both in the short term and long term, while staff can give you a better sense of what characteristics make a successful student in their program. Having conversations with many different individuals allows you to be confident with your final decision.
Step 5: Listen to your gut. After gathering all this information it will be time to make a final decision. While other people may have an opinion on which business school is best, only you can know which MBA program suits you, your goals, and your needs. As long as you do your due diligence and understand what you need in order to be successful, you’ll make the right decision.
Have questions about how you fit within the Wisconsin MBA community? Connect with us! We’d be happy to share our perspective on the program and what you can expect as a student.