In advising thousands of MBA applicants over the years, a common question we hear at The MBA Exchange is, “Which b-schools should I target for my admissions campaign?”
With so many different MBA programs to consider, and acceptance criteria that are both objective and subjective, this question can cause high anxiety among even the strongest, most confident applicants.
So, if you’re facing this dilemma, and finding that it keeps you from launching your admissions campaign, here’s a proven approach for your consideration:
Create a long list of potential schools that offer a geographic location, academic curriculum, class size, campus culture, prestige, alumni network, and placement stats that satisfy you. At the top of your list should be the most selective school that you would regret – even 10 or 20 years from now – not having tried for admission. At the bottom of your list should be the least selective school where you would happily and proudly enroll if it was the only one to offer you admission.
Next it’s time to reduce your long list by segmenting the possibilities. A simple framework is to place the schools in each of 3 categories, based on likelihood of admission for an applicant with your profile:
“A” Stretch Schools
• Your GPA and GMAT are below average but within the “middle 80%” for admits
• Admission rate is typically 6-20%
“B” Likely Schools
• Your GPA and GMAT are above the average for admits
• Admission rate is typically 20-30%
“C” High Probability Schools
• Your GPA and GMAT are near the top of “middle 80%” or higher
• Admission rate is typically 30-50%
Finally comes the “risk management” step, where you determine which group of schools – A, B or C — you’re going to prioritize. For instance, if your current job is going well and you’re in line for a big promotion within the next couple of years, then you may want to be aggressive in your targeting and emphasize Group A since admission to only a “stretch” MBA program would justify stepping away from your present career trajectory. Or, if you’re feeling stuck in a job with little hope for advancement, and you’re not yet qualified for a bigger opportunity elsewhere, then you’re facing some immediacy that could make schools in Group C more appealing. And for those in doubt, focus on Group B.
If you find that working through this 3-step approach on your own is still uncomfortable or uncertain, have no fear. Engaging the services a professional admissions consultant like The MBA Exchange can provide the combination of knowledge and objectivity that you want and need. An immediate first step would be to request a free, expert evaluation of your current MBA candidacy.