The U.S. is home to some of the world’s most prestigious business schools—the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Business School are just a few. But did you know that prestige is just as important to today’s students as how strolling across campus makes them feel or interacting with faculty? In addition to “fit,” several factors are on the frontline today when it comes to choosing the “best” business school. Take notes.
According to a recent U.S. News & World Report Education piece, fit is “always the most unquantifiable yet crucial element to consider when deciding on a school. Check your gut as you visit the campus or chat with current students and alumni. Think about if you feel intimidated or uncomfortable, or welcomed and completely at ease.” Remember, the school you choose will be your home for a minimum of two years and a maximum of five—whether online or on-campus. Compromising your comfort during your stay can be counterproductive to your personal learning and career goals.
2. Professor Quality
Professor quality can have a positive or negative effect on student achievement. But how do you find out how professors rate or if they are leaders in their field? If a school is AACSB-accredited, the professors have met the highest quality standards in the academic world. This does not mean that other schools lack quality professors, of course. But in these cases, there are a number of ways to do a quality check. Professor bios can be found on the schools website, so start your research there. Next, according to FastWeb, the best way to learn other things about a potential professor is from someone who has already interacted with them. The site lists Rate My Professors, MyEdu, Koofers, and Uloop as the most popular professor rating sites.
3. Career Goals
While researching schools, consider how each school can help you reach your career goals. What degrees, concentrations and electives do they offer? What resources and student clubs do they have that support your career interests? Which companies routinely recruit at the school? How strong is the Office of Career Services? What types of jobs do graduates land? According to U.S. News, you should “check out the annual employment report or company lists published on the school’s website. See if one program seems to provide a substantial advantage in your field. If you need more input, call up recruiters and companies you’re interested in to see what they think of the schools you’re choosing between.”
Ok, so business school rankings do matter. While rankings are not the only factor employers consider when evaluating potential employees, the reputation of your alma mater does hold a significant amount weight. Top-tier business schools are already on most employers’ radar, so if you are already looking into an “A” school, you can skip this tip. For the rest of the schools, making sure they measure up might take a little legwork. To see how a school ranks, consult trusted sources such as U.S. News & World Report, The Financial Times, and BloombergBusiness.
Although financial aid is readily available to most students and some exceptional students may receive an “all costs covered” package from the school, cost is still a deciding factor for just about every student. At the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable with the amount of debt you are willing to take on. If a price tag of $100,000+ per year is unsettling to you, compile a list of budget-friendly business schools, then repeat steps one through four.
"Accreditation Standards." AACSB International. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
Blackman, Stacy. "Evaluate 3 Factors When Comparing Business School Acceptances." US News. U.S. News & World Report, 6 Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
"Business Schools Are Getting Generous with Aid." CNBC. NBC Universal News Group, 28 Nov. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
"How Much Will That College Really Cost?" CNN Money News. CNN Money, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
Hoyt, Elizabeth. "What to Know about Professor Rating Websites." Fastweb : Scholarships, Financial Aid, Student Loans and Colleges. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.