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Targeting B-schools Beyond H/S/W

March 19 2014 By The MBA Exchange
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Harvard. Stanford. Wharton.

Most MBA applicants would rather attend one of these “elite” business school than other options, and understandably so. The prestige of having an education from H/S/W is undeniable. Those are world-class brands that can enhance and elevate anyone’s resume.

With an admissions consulting team that includes nearly 30 alumni and former admissions officers from these 3 blue-chip MBA programs, and having helped hundreds of past applicants gain admission there, no one is a bigger believer in “H/S/W” than The MBA Exchange.

However, as applicant, a key question to ask yourself is:

Would attending another top-tier b-school be valuable for me if I don’t attend H/S/W? In other words, if you apply to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton ONLY — but are denied admission — would you benefit significantly from earning an MBA degree at other schools such as MIT, Chicago, Columbia, Kellogg, Haas, etc.? For most individuals, the answer should be a resounding yes.

So, how will you compile your target list of schools? While the tendency is to work your way down the rankings, starting with H/S/W, another valid approach is to work your way up the rankings. Let’s say your GPA and GMAT are above the median for admits to schools ranked in the top 15. You could start at #15, thoroughly research the program for “fit” with your background and goals, and then ask yourself a second question:

“Would I happily attend this school if it’s the only one to accept me?”

If your answer is yes, then that program should be on your target list. Keep in mind that if and when you’re offered admission to a higher ranked school, then you’ll have the distinct pleasure of telling the lower ranked school, “Thanks, but no thanks!”

Finally, there’s the matter of money. If a respected school ranked below H/S/W was to offer you admission plus a hefty, five-figure scholarship, would that make the distinction among schools more difficult for you to make? If your answer is “maybe,” then it’s worth including such a school on your target list.

And speaking of money, employers realize that the most valuable new hires don’t always come from the elite schools. Over the past 5 years, according to Poets and Quants, total compensation (salary + bonus) for new MBA grads has increased more rapidly at 23 schools other than Harvard and Stanford.

So, we encourage every MBA applicant to aim high, work hard and never settle. In doing so, however, create as many viable options for yourself as possible. For many individuals, this includes targeting b-schools in addition to H/S/W. For an objective analysis of your candidacy and admissions potential, we invite you to request a free, expert evaluation today.