School Selection

Most applicants spend a great deal of time agonizing over their school list. This is viewed as a crucial first step that must be finalized before embarking on the process. I read with interest a recent blog entry by applicant Ty Coon, where he discusses the evolution of his list. Ty Coon started with a long list of schools, and as he progresses through the application process some schools are falling off, while others remain, for all kinds of reasons. Time is a big reason, as is the expense of applying. Some schools remain because they are viewed as back ups, others because their programs are a good fit.

One important thing to take away from Ty Coon’s experience is that the school list evolves, as does the applicant’s story. Obviously you need at least one school to start with, but much of your list can be determined as you progress through the process. As you become more invested in going to business school, and your story solidifies, you made decide to add additional schools. As you clarify your goals, you may consider schools that you had never looked at in the past. Similarly, this process may cause you to drop schools.

As you form your list, one important question to ask yourself is: How committed am I to going to school next year? Am I dedicated to one or two top choice schools, or to going back to school – period? Some applicants are content in their careers, and will only go back to school to attend a top choice. This is a fine decision – just realize that applying to one school is a risky strategy, no matter how qualified you may be. Other applicants put together a broader list in order to maximize chances of acceptance. This is a personal decision – just be honest with yourself when assessing where you want to be next year.

A couple of other things to consider:
1) Never apply to a school that you will not be happy to attend.
2) It can be important to keep your dream school on your list – otherwise, you may always wonder what might have happened.
3) Remember that there are plenty of great schools that can help you to reach your goals – don’t get caught up in stereotypes and rumors – approach this with an open mind.
4) If you are interested in working for specific companies after you graduate, call the companies directly and ask them where they recruit.
5) Start with one key school and allow your list to change as you go through this process of self discovery.

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