Creating your target school list is an integral part of setting the appropriate MBA application strategy. Many things go into creating the right strategy. Looking into what location, teaching style, career opportunities, or class size make sense as logical starting points for your school research.
Part of this vetting process involves evaluating your fit for all relevant aspects of your business school criteria. If there are aspects of a school that are important, you should make a decision as early as possible whether this criteria is a deal breaker for you or not.
So you have done your school research and identified your deal breakers and created a target school list that you are happy with. So what is the one school that you should never apply to? Well the answer is the school you would not actually matriculate to! This sounds obvious, but every year applicants make this mistake months before they actually have to deal with the consequences.
This issue manifests when the applicant receives an offer of admission from a school they realize they actually do not want to attend. This is not the same as applying to a safety school. With a safety school, you are applying to a school that you feel you have a high degree of certainty that you will receive admission to. The difference for safety schools is if admitted and without other offers, a candidate would actually be comfortable attending.
Applying to a school you have no desire to actually attend makes no sense and is a waste of time, energy, and mental space. It provides the false security of an option that does not really exist. This is why the upfront process of vetting your schools is so important. If this process is done right, a candidate would never apply to a school that they would not go to. Many candidates once they receive application decisions struggle to deal with the decision to reapply in future years, even with an offer in hand, which is a sign of school selection issues.
Be honest with yourself as early as you can in the process when it comes to school selection, to make your application process and subsequent matriculation decision as straightforward and simple as possible.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.