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1. How do I choose the schools to apply to?
There are several factors to take into consideration here when choosing schools. Let us look at some of the most common ones
Why does it matter where your school is located physically? The number of post-MBA opportunities that come your way will likely be from the same broad geographical region. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but rely on the norm and not the exception when making your decision.
India: If you are in India with less than 5 years of experience, your best bet is ISB. Schools such as Great Lakes in Chennai and XIMB Bhubaneswar also offer good value. If you have over 5 years of experience, the PGPX or ePGP programs at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta and Lucknow offer great value. Remember, your career opportunities when you do an MBA in India are likely to be India centric. Take a look at the top b schools in India and top b schools in India that accept GMAT scores.
USA: If there is a utopia for MBA, it is the USA. There are more good schools in the USA than in the rest of the world taken together. The top 10 schools in the USA are iconic names when it comes to getting an MBA. The top 50 schools in the USA offer great value.
Two sweeteners in the USA:
1. Many of the business schools that rank in the 15 to 50 range in the USA also offer part or in some cases full tuition fee waiver for deserving candidates.
2. The OPT program lets you work in the USA for a year after you complete the program, with your student visa itself, while your employer processes your H1B visa. Schools in the USA have started offering specialized MBA programs that allow you to work under the OPT program for 24 months (A case in point, STEM MBA from Simon Business School, University of Rochester)
Europe: There are many top business schools of international repute including London Business School, INSEAD, IMD. Scholarship options are far and few between. Proficiency of local language is preferred and some of the employers in these locations have a lesser than favorable disposition toward international students – both serving as dampeners. Take a look at the best business schools in Europe.
Canada: The best business schools in Canada such as Rotman, Schulich, Ivey are good places to get your MBA. A good GMAT score will also get you scholarships. Post-MBA job opportunities and favorable rules governing getting a permanent resident status make Canada a sought-after destination. In a post-Trump world, an MBA from Canada is also being seen as a safer route to eventually work in the more attractive neighbor to the south.
Asia: National University of Singapore, Nanyang Singapore, CEIBS Shangai, HKUST, Hong Kong are business schools of international repute. Both Hong Kong and Singapore offer very good post-MBA career opportunities. These schools have been a favorite for quite a few Indian students as these schools are closer home offering opportunities comparable to the ones in the USA.
b. Rank-Cost Equilibrium
The most common tool used by many candidates to shortlist the b schools they want to apply to is the ranking of the business school – usually from such sources as US News, Business Week, The Economist, or The Financial Times. While a business school with a better rank and brand recognition will go a long way in shaping your career, strike a balance between the rank of the school and how much you are likely to spend to complete your education. A whole lot depends on your risk appetite.
Let’s say you have an admit with no scholarship in a school that is ranked 18th in the USA and another admit with 70% tuition fee waiver in a school that is ranked 30th in the USA – if I were you I will go for the second school. I have had students who did the opposite because they had a greater risk appetite and rightly believed that the payback from a better ranking school over the long run more than compensates for the initial investment.
c. School-Specific Features
When shortlisting schools you are looking at, also take into consideration the specific offerings. There are ones that have a very rigid structured curriculum and ones that offer a more flexible option; there are ones with one long capstone project and others with several short duration ones; ones with foundation courses intensively discussed in just the first semester and ones with extensive discussions throughout the first year; ones that are popular for one industry and others popular for a particular functional expertise. Weigh all these factors in light of what your career objectives are – read through the school’s website and talk to alumni and student ambassadors for the information.
2. When should I submit my application?
Two things to keep in mind – You need to submit the application (a) at the earliest possible moment (b) when your application is at its best.
Early decision cycles or Round 1 is always the best time to apply to a school. Here is the caveat. If you believe you could submit a much better application in Round 2 (better essay, improved GMAT score), apply when you can put in your best application. If the best application that you can submit is ready only in Round 3, skip this year. Apply next year – catch Round 1. Your chances of getting an admit and scholarship are significantly higher in R1.
Read my blog on the rationale @ https://gmat-prep-blog.wizako.com/b-school-admissions/advantages-of-applying-in-r1-application-cycle/
3. How can I guarantee my admission to a school?
You can’t quite ‘guarantee’ an admission but you can take quite a few measures to significantly increase the chances of an admit.
- Do adequate research about the schools before you shortlist where you want to apply. Information regarding tuition, percentage of international students, number of students admitted, acceptance ratio, profile of the admitted students, minimum salary for graduating international students, scholarships awarded the previous year, student loan availability are some of the factors to consider. The stats for any and all of these might not be replicated for the year you are applying in but they will be in the close range. If you do a structured analysis of the data available you will have an idea about what you should do to improve your chances of securing an admit.
- Interact with as many people in the schools that you have shortlisted as you can get access to. Admissions office, alumnus, student ambassadors. More the merrier. Show keenness in joining the school. Be inquisitive without being obnoxious about finding out why you should select that school. Most importantly – do not directly ask the question – “Why should I select your school?” But find the answer to that question through your interaction. That will be the answer you will be giving the admissions committee to convince why you are a good fit for that school.
- Attend any event that the school organizes. Could be live roadshows in your city or country or webinars. In many of these events, schools do offer application fee waivers. Grab those offers. If you are in Chennai or Hyderabad and the event is at Bangalore, take the day off and travel to Bangalore to attend the event. No two ways about it.
- Constantly look to improve your MBA story – it has 4 elements to it – why MBA, why now, why at this school, what after an MBA.
- Do not worry about the past – you cannot go back in time and change your academic record or perhaps a bad career choice you have made. What you can do however is realize that most applicants probably have a weak spot and instead focus on those aspects of the application that are still in your control. Yes, it is true that the GMAT is only one of the many criteria that a school uses to select a candidate but it is also one of the few criteria that is in your hands, even today.
Consider two candidates applying to a school.
Candidate 1: You with 690 GMAT.
Candidate 2: You with 740 GMAT.
I will select candidate 2. Make sure you are doing everything possible to get that 740.
Check your answers to the ‘Never should you’ quiz
Q1. Never should you ever
Statement 1: Choose a school based on rank alone (Never should you)
Statement 2: Talk to a student at the school before shortlisting it (You should)
Q2. Never should you ever
Statement 1: Interact with admissions directors before submitting your application (You should)
Statement 2: Ask admissions directors why they think you should apply to the school (Never should you ask this question. Ask other questions and form your opinion about whether you should apply to that school. They cannot decide for you.)
Q3. Never should you ever
Statement 1: Disregard costs of the program when applying. Obviously, good programs are going to cost money (Never should you)
Statement 2: Choose the school that you want to apply to, based on the geographical location you want to work in (You should)
Q4. Never should you ever
Statement 1: Submit your application simply to meet a deadline, sacrificing application strength (Never should you)
Statement 2: Attend webinars and road shows conducted by B schools before applying to them (You should)
Q5. Never should you ever
Statement 1: Think about what to do after your MBA before you even submit your application (You should)
Statement 2: Ignore aspects of your application such as past academic or work records (Never should you)