Don’t Overlook School Culture When Creating an MBA Shortlist

school culture

Now is the time when many potential MBA applicants are neck-deep in the school research phase of the admissions process. When choosing which business schools make your Top Five list, what matters most? Do you prioritize rankings and reputation or the institution’s culture and values?

Defining a school’s culture is a smart strategic move that many applicants overlook. Getting a feel for the prevailing culture will help you decide whether the program fits well with your personality.

Is the school culture predominantly competitive or collaborative?

Size and location often play an important role in this regard – larger programs in urban centers, such as Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Chicago Booth typically feel much more competitive and intense.

Smaller business schools and those located in rural settings usually foster a close-knit community feeling. Here, many students live on campus and socialize with fellow students and faculty regularly.

MBA programs with smaller cohorts, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of BusinessStanford Graduate School of Business, and Yale School of Management, take pride in their down-to-earth, collaborative cultures.

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to evaluating school culture. It’s simply a matter of choosing the environment that’s best for you. For more insight, read this article on the MBA programs with the best cultures and classmates.

A student who feels comfortable and engaged will have a more enjoyable and rewarding business school experience. Remember, the relationships you forge with the school, and your classmates last a lifetime.

Knowing whether you’d thrive in a collegial, teamwork-driven environment or a more intense and competitive program is just one question you can ask yourself when gauging “fit” with a particular school. A little research and a hefty dose of self-reflection will help you find which MBA program is the best fit for YOU.

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