When you get your first acceptance call a weight is instantly lifted off of your shoulders. You know that you did something right and that you are in indeed going off to school. You can finally breath.
You may shed a tear or two and then you’ll begin to make the calls to your family, friends and mentors that helped you along the way. Its a process and this is all part of it.
One acceptance is amazing.
But, when you have options that changes the game. When money becomes a player – the conversation is changed. In a way the stakes are higher, even though the risk is lowered…depending on your situation.
Things To Consider:
1. Scholarship $$$
If money is in play – that needs to be taken into serious consideration. If you receive a consortium fellowship, or a merit scholarship from an institution, that should weigh heavily into your decision. To me a scholarship indicates that the school is committed to your success and sees you as a game changer for their program. If you receive money from a school, but not from the school you really want to matriculate into – say something. Make it known to your admissions officer so they can have the opportunity to put something greater on the table. Always ask – the worst they can say is no. At the end of the day you’ll still have options.
Chances are that you did your homework if you were accepted into a program, nevertheless a top program. By homework, I mean that you took time out of your precious schedule to actually talk to current students and alum to better understand the program and the community this it creates and its comprised of. All of these school are great, but it is the people that truly make your experience. The majority of your time it spent with your peers – make sure they are the people you want to be around. You should feel at home when you go to visit the school for your interview or accepted student weekend.
If you do not feel like you have a good grasp on what the student body is like, or the products that the school produces, take some serious time talking to students and alum to see if you can see yourself within that community.
You’re going to get an amazing education regardless of the school. But the optionality of courses and experiences that you have access to are different across the board. Do you care if there are lab courses, or do you want to do cases in every class? Do you want a more quant driven program or a program more based in theory? Do you require courses that deep driven into specific functions, or do you want classes taught with overarching frameworks that can be implemented across various industries? Do you want a flexible schedule where you take classes when you want whatever quarter you want, or do you want to be with a specific cohort to build deeper relationships the entirety of your first year? Do you want the ability to have an internship or work on side projects alongside your full time schedule? Ask yourself these questions, because funny enough, you do actually have to go to class while in B-school.
4. Quality of Life
You will be broke while in school – it’s inevitable. But everyone is broke with you, so it’s kind of okay? But while in school, you still need to ask yourself how you want to be living for the next 2 years. Do you care if people all live in the same area so that you can spend more time with your classmates, or would you prefer that people live spread out across the city? Does the city you’re going to be in have access to opportunities outside the classroom for personal and professional growth and fun? Do you want to be in a college town or a major city? There are pros and cons to every city and living situation for each school respectively.
Many of us are going to school to be exposed to a plethora of new and different people. Diversity doesn’t just mean diversity of races and ethnic backgrounds – even though this is important. To me diversity means diversity in thought, experiences, and backgrounds. I question diversity in terms of integrations of different types of peoples. Look around and see if there are people of all shades and types truly interacting and building a diverse community that can be replicated in the workplace.
Does the program offer unique access to opportunities and experiences that you cannot get elsewhere? What are those things? Whether that be access to resources, travel, competitions, or funding that are important to you – make sure those are noted.
Think about what’s important to you. Use this list to make a checklist and compare each school. You’ll be able to have a clearer idea of which school will be the right home for you. As much as a program is choosing you, you want to wholeheartedly choose that program back. You owe it to yourself to finish this process strong. Do your due diligence and thank me later.