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MBA Expert Series: The Most Important Factors in Choosing an MBA Program

Posted in Test Prep on November 1, 2010 by

Welcome to another installment of our MBA expert series! This week, we were fortunate enough to sit down with MBA admissions expert Walter Hutchinson, founder of ApplicationAdvantage.com, the boutique international admissions advisory, and also founder of MBAdashboard.com, the admissions supersite powered by proprietary technology tools designed specifically for global business school applicants. Walter holds degrees from Columbia University and has lived in North America, Asia and Europe while advising professionals and students representing more than 20 countries.

Walter was kind enough to answer one of the most persistent questions on prospective b-school students’ minds:

What are some of the most important factors students should consider when choosing an MBA program?

Among the factors you should consider are: location, post-graduation placement, the prevalence of spouse-friendly programs, hybrid learning opportunities such as institutional exchanges, and experiential learning. Every MBA program has a different take on the lineup of opportunities they provide and it is those differences which you need to look at closely when filtering your list, because admissions committees will be paying equally close attention to which applicant seems to be a match and which doesn’t.

Even before getting to those program-specific factors, though, I think the first and most-frequently underestimated issue you need to address for yourself is whether the MBA is the right move.

Are you rising quickly in your organization but need the MBA to go further; do you need to change careers by exploring specific options through the MBA experience; have you maximized opportunities on your current path; will the transformational nature of business school help you to achieve a particular type of personal or professional breakthrough?

The second issue goes to timing: should you be applying now or targeting a future admission round or year?

Once you have worked out answers to those questions, only then should you turn to figuring out which program is the best one for you. Nothing stalls an application faster than unfocused goals or lack of any at all. Be sure you have a compelling reason for seeking an MBA, before you even begin thinking about the names of top schools. Why? Because when you have those answers in hand, it becomes easier to assess fit with a program. Moreover, your to attend a particular school, becomes more convincing and is more likely to result in admittance.