Deciding Where to Apply for MBA School

Finding the right MBA school can be a tremendous task. Take a self assessment and ask yourself these questions:

  • How much time and money can I invest in the process?
  • What do I want to concentrate on for my MBA? Do I want Entrepreneurship, Technology, Health Care, or just General Management?
  • Why am I attending MBA school?

Applying to MBA school costs time and money

Each application you submit can take 15-40 hours to complete. You will need to research the school, write essays, gather transcripts, receive recommendation letters. All of these tasks take time. Luckily some of the tasks can be duplicated for other schools.

One of the misconceptions when you start looking at MBA schools is that you will be able to write one standard set of essays and use it for all of the schools. These cookie cutter essays are obvious to most admission officers. You need to research and write your essay questions for each school. Oftentimes the schools will ask similar essay questions – but with enough differences to warrant a different essay for each school. Do not try to fit one essay you wrote for a school into another school’s similar question.

Every year, admission offices receive superb applications – with essays that mention a competing school. Make sure you read your application before you send it in!

Costs involved with applying:

  • Application Fees ($50-300)
  • Transcript request fees
  • Travel expenses
  • Testing fees (GMAT)
  • Test preparation books/courses

It can cost several hundred dollars to apply to each school. If you want to apply at five schools, you may drop $2,000 just in those miscellaneous fees.

Figure Out Your Interests

One of the keys when you prepare to apply for business graduate school is to figure out why you are going. Writing a personal statement can help you in the process.

Write down a statement which encompasses where you have been and where you would like to go. You should be able to quickly identify and repeat on demand your two year and five year goals (after you receive your MBA). How will you reach those goals? What will the right MBA program provide for you – and what will you provide for it – to reach those goals?

Once you know what you want your major to be, find the right school which focuses on that program. Entrepreneur magazine has a list of the top 100 college programs for entrepreneurs. Business Week has some of the most comprehensive ratings for schools – some by Specialty, but most of those require subscribing to their MBA insider. Search Google up in the left hand corner (select Web) to find other schools by specialty. Don’t blindly apply to all of the top ten colleges on Business Week’s list. They are all fantastic schools, but you may find a gem at #25 or #55.

Why Am I Attending MBA School?

Why are you attending MBA school? Is it for a career change? More money? Better opportunities for promotion? Because you want to be in the corner office?

Spend some time tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and figure out why you want to go to MBA school. Write down a list of pluses and minuses for leaving your career now to pursue more education. Once you have had time to really dissect "why now?", you will be better prepared when you apply.