Tuesday, February 26, 2008

After the GMAT, What's Next?

So you've finished the GMAT - scores the 760 that just makes you glow with pride. What next?

Well, assuming that you've planned to do an MBA, now is the time to narrow down the schools that you intend to apply for in Round 1. You could;

a) select by ranking,
b) select by interest,
c) select by fit - hard to do.

Selecting by Ranking is by far the simplest. Just go to Businessweek or USNews or even Financial Times and look at the top schools. In general the schools will be ranked like

Grade A+: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton (maybe - some people say yes, some people say no)
Grade A: Chicago, MIT, Columbia, Kellogg, Tuck (possibly), INSEAD, LBS
Grade A-: Ross, Duke, Darden, IMD
Grade B+: Yale, Hass, Anderson, Judge (Cambridge - maybe), Said (Oxford - maybe)

rest of the grades = rest of the schools = I know you don't really care.

The Grade A+, A (excepting INSEAD and LBS) and some of the A- offer loans up to the cost of attending the program to international students. Very important, because in Malaysia, our education support for an MBA is absolute crap. It is nearly impossible to get an education loan from any bank in Malaysia (local/foreign) without putting up property as collateral. Yes, they suck. The banks here don't support a higher education. So what are you going to do? You had better get into a Grade A+/A school. No other options if you're planning to finance your education by loans.

Selecting by interest is also pretty fun. In general every top school is damn good at what they do. Except, some schools are better known for certain things - like finance or marketing. A very brief list (I haven't sat down to classify everything) goes a bit like this

Finance: Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, MIT (?)
General Management: Tuck, Harvard, Darden, Ross
Marketing: Kellogg
Entrepreneurship: Haas, Stanford

Again, I might be wrong, but the list goes something like that. But take it with a pinch of salt - because Investment Banks do recruit from Harvard for finance, and Consumer Goods do recruit from Chicago/Wharton for marketing. But it's just saying that the schools are _better_ known for their specialty. So don't say "Oh noes! I'll never work for Coca-Cola if I go to Wharton." because not only could you work for Coca-Cola, but you could also be selling prophylatics for Durex.

Selecting by fit is probably the hardest but the most important (if you can do it). What does it mean? Simply it means will you fit well with the school? Will you be able to hang out at Chicago and like that lifestyle vs. going to Tuck and being in the middle of nowhere? Will you be comfortable checking out chicks at Harvard with the Type-A people (apparently, but i think it's just a rumor) or would you prefer getting warm and fuzzy at Kellogg?

How do you check for fit? Talk to students, talk to alumni, visit the school - picture yourself there. But heck, you're Malaysian, what do you care about true fit? Just get into the best ranked school that you can and be a superstar :) Remember, if you can survive in Malaysia, you can survive in ANY business school! Whoa!

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