Researching Schools? Begin with the End in Mind

MBAAt this is the time of year we speak with a lot of applicants who are just starting their school research process. How do many of them start? By cracking open the U.S. New rankings or BusinessWeek rankings and going down the list. Sound familiar? The fact of the matter is that how many of us do it, right or wrong!

This isn’t necessarily a bad place to start. One has to start somewhere, and no one has yet come up with a better way to size up all of the schools in one neat, tidy place. (Many will argue that there’s no reason why all of the top schools should be sorted along one dimension,. While we’re actually pretty sympathetic to this argument, human nature isn’t changing any time soon.)


One big problem is that many applicants never look deeper to consider what their immediate job opportunities will be when they graduate. Of course, when you walk out of a top-ranked school with an MBA, the world is your oyster, and your job opportunities aren’t limited just to the schools that recruit on campus. But, every year we talk to many students and recent grads who are disappointed that job opportunities in their industry/function of choice weren’t more readily available through traditional on-campus recruiting.

How can you avoid this problem? It’s up to you to know your target schools, including what companies recruit that each school and how many grads go into each industry. Fortunately, this isn’t hard information to obtain: Just a simple online search can help you find Harvard’s and Wharton’s job placement data. While grads at these schools are less often disappointed, even a Harvard MBA sometimes says, “I wish I knew that many of the best private equity firms don’t just set up interview slots on campus like other companies do.”

And, at lower-ranked schools, you sometimes need to be even more careful. There are dozens of terrific regional programs, but if you attend one and end up disappointed that it didn’t help you land a Wall Street banking job, then you may have no one to blame but yourself. As we told the Financial Times a few months ago, you need to begin with the end in mind.

One of the best ways to start researching top MBA programs is to download our Veritas Prep Annual Reports, 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

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