How to Make Your School Selection Process
Experts say the school selection process is one of the most important decisions applicants make when considering an MBA degree. Having a balanced list of reach, target, and safety schools will help ensure that you have a strong strategy as an applicant.
Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed how applicants should go about the school selection process.
When it comes to reach schools, it's always a question of "what if?"
Blackman says the best way to decide on how many reach schools to apply to is to ask yourself a few important questions.
"While the process is extremely competitive, you shouldn't count yourself out before the game even begins," Blackman writes. "That's why we recommend people ask themselves the following questions. Is getting an MBA degree your top goal? Or, is getting an MBA from a specific school what really matters most?"
If getting into a specific school is your priority, then go all in. But, just make sure your numbers align with your dream school.
"If your test scores are much lower than the average at your dream school, give the GMAT or GRE another shot," Blackman writes. "Also, start thinking about explaining your academic weaknesses and highlighting the unique strengths you would bring to the classroom setting. In any case, come decision time, it's important to remain realistic."
Target schools, experts say, should be schools where you have a good chance of getting in because your numbers and experience match up.
"Start with the hard data points," Blackman writes. "As a general guideline, take a look at MBA programs you like where your profile falls within the top 10 percent of admitted students. Compare your undergraduate GPA, GMAT/GRE score, years of work experience, and industry with accepted applicants reported by the school on their class profile page. If your industry is underrepresented, consider that an advantage for your application."
Safety schools, according to Blackman, should be a more obvious fit with your numbers and experience.
"A good way to determine whether your list should include safety schools is by asking yourself how important it is for you to go to business school next year," Blackman writes. "Maybe you have a compelling reason you need to exit your job and make a move to grad school ASAP. If so, including safety schools among your targets is a smart strategy."
At the end of the day, there isn't a true set number on how many schools to apply to or what portion should be reach, target, or safety. Rather, experts say, ask yourself what you really want and trust the process.
"If a person really finds a set of schools that they love, it doesn't matter what their perception is of what their chances are of getting in," Evan Bouffides, the assistant dean and director of graduate admissions at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, tells Fortune. "I think in most cases if they think they're a good candidate, if they see they're a good fit for the school, apply and let the process take over and see what happens."
Next Page: How business schools need to adapt.
MBA Programs Need to Adapt: Here's How They Can
Business schools have long worked to adapt MBA curriculum to meet the modern day demands of companies and consumers. However, two leading professors are arguing that the pace of change isn't nearly fast enough if B-schools want to keep the MBA degree future-proof.
Vijay Govindarajan, the Coxe Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, and Avijay Govindarajan, an associate professor at Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review how main departments in a typical MBA program-from corporate finance to marketing-can be better adapted to meet the needs of real modern day business.
Corporate finance often focuses on the physical assets that a company holds, including land, inventory, and machines.
When it comes to case-based teaching in MBA programs, Govindarajan and Srivastava argue that it tends to leave out a critical component when defining a company's real asset base: soft assets. When compared to physical assets, soft assets include less tangible things such as software or even employees.
"These are relatively small investments when compared to buying property, but collecting soft assets of this sort can lead to smarter and more efficient businesses and should, therefore, hold just as much, if not more, value as their hard counterparts," according to Questica, a software company.
According to Govindarajan and Srivastava, some soft assets don't even legally belong to a company, citing Facebook's network of 2.8 billion users or "teams of talented marketers and scientists promising research and knowledge of customers' characteristics." That makes it difficult to discern the true value of an organization, they add.
"In addition, there are physical assets that help firms generate revenues but that they don't own, such as cars and homes for Uber and Airbnb. Improving the definition of the asset base is essential for proper calculation of return on assets, which would then improve the selection of profitable projects - a hallmark of corporate finance."
Marketing is another industry that has vastly evolved in recent years. Traditionally, marketers focused on the four P's: place, price, product, and promotion. And while that framework is still valuable, marketing today encompasses a whole lot more than some programs cover.
"Digital natives sell informational services that are produced instantaneously, distributed over the internet, and either given to users for free or priced based on real-time auctions," Govindarajan and Srivastava write. "Many are never advertised. So, in addition to the art and science of traditional marketing, today's marketer needs to possess the skills of information technologists, data scientists, and econometricians."
It's no longer enough to simply focus on marketing, they add - or, vice versa, to just focus on data science.
"Business school marketing departments need to work more closely with departments of information technology, management information systems, and digital strategy to offer more integrated programs to meet these evolving needs," Govindarajan and Srivastava write.
Read the full article at Harvard Business Review.
Sources: Harvard Business Review, Questic
Next Page: Balancing full-time work and a part-time MBA.
Tips for Balancing Full-Time Work and Part-Time MBA
One of the main benefits of a part-time MBA is the ability to continue working full-time. Still, balancing a full-time work schedule with school can be demanding.
Fortune recently spoke to experts on strategies for juggling priorities as a part-time MBA student and full-time professional.
OPTIMIZE YOUR TIME AND COMMITMENT
Experts say knowing how much you want to commit to your MBA studies in comparison to other aspects of your life can help you better optimize your time and commitments.
"Coursework and program commitments have forced me to optimize time in a way I never thought was possible," Greg Morozzi, a student enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper part-time flex MBA program, tells Fortune.
Inevitably, when balancing school and work, you'll need to prioritize things in your life, even when you don't want to.
"You must face and be prepared to accept inevitable trade-offs," Zoltán Antal-Mokos, dean of degree programs at ESMT Berlin, tells Top MBA. "A walk with your partner on a Sunday afternoon versus polishing the presentation for the Monday morning regional sales meeting versus perfecting a course paper in hope of an even better grade - the choice is yours."
At times, optimizing your time might actually mean slowing down to avoid burnout.
"I personally like to do a little work each day to manage my time as opposed to putting in several hours of work the day before class," Erik Gaarder, who is enrolled in Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business working professional MBA, tells Fortune.
HAVE A SUPPORT NETWORK
Since your MBA program will likely take up a big chunk of your time, experts say it's important to lean on your friends and family as support in times of need.
"Letting your family or support system know that you might not be available during certain terms is really important," Christine Jan, a student in the Berkeley Haas evening & weekend MBA program, tells Fortune.
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