Firstly, congratulations! You have multiple offers for b-school.
Two recent events have made me reflect recently on the b-school decision. One directly, which was Admit Weekend 1 this past weekend at Booth, and secondly, the ‘sell’ process for management consulting summer internships. There are two myths that I want to bust here, and hopefully they will help make your decision a little easier.
1. I have to go to School X, otherwise I won’t be able to work for Firm Y
This is, almost without exception, total baloney – for the top 10 or so b-schools in America. There are many things driving MBA students to attend certain schools. Maybe the school is close to their family or has a particular program that draws them in. Most firms will not exclude you simply because you are not at their top recruiting school. Most firms that recruit multiple MBA interns, especially in management consulting, will look more for breadth of schools rather than depth. At my Bain New York sell weekend, over 8 schools were represented out of 20 or so folks, including Booth, Kellogg, HBS, Stanford, Columbia, Stern, Ross, and Yale.
This brings up another interesting point. Who are your peers? Who can you stand out against? You’re arguably better off being the best applicant at a top 15 school than the 15th best at Harvard. Behavioral economics strikes again – business school recruiting is still all relative. You will be compared more closely with your classmates than with applicants from other schools.
So the key point I am making here is – don’t pick your school based on the ‘best’ school you can get into. Pick the school you think fits you best, and you WILL excel there, placing you much better for the brutal recruiting process.
2. It matters what I can learn, not who else goes there
Let me help you out here. WRONG. You are getting an MBA. Not a Master’s degree in finance, operations, strategy or any other specific business discipline. MBAs are SUPPOSED to be general, to prepare you for a career in which you have a broad business perspective as well as some specialist skills. I was having a conversation with an Admit who was likely basing her choice to attend another business school on a specific class/area, despite admitting she had broad interests. I think it is ok to choose a business school based on whether they offer support for Entrepreneurship, or they have well-respected Finance classes. But think twice about choosing a school based on their expertise in retail operations supply chain excellence. It’s just too specific for what you’re aiming for in an MBA.
So as I am constantly reminded at Booth (by an art installation in the main building):
Why are you here, and not somewhere else? And in this case, why are you at b-school, and not somewhere else?
Let’s assume that every school you are looking at has a comparable program, based on the arguments above. If you got into a school that doesn’t have a good program for you – why did you apply? So let’s say the two outstanding variables are job and network, two absolutely key assets acquired at business school.
Here’s a good way to think about it.
That’s all from me. You will have a great time at any business school, but please choose the school that feels like home. You will always know you made the right decision!
For more on Samantha’s business school experiences, visit her blog at http://telegramsamb.blogspot.com.