4 Reasons why you should not select Backup MBA Programs

Picking Backup MBA ProgramsMost applicants have completed their GMAT preparation. They are ready to send their GMAT test scores to five Business Schools. One common mistake that we have seen applicants committing while selecting their top five schools is that they don’t put too much thought into selecting the last Business School in the list. Often the thought process is to pick schools based on unrealistic expectations or with very little ambition.

Here are 4 Reasons why picking a Backup program might be counterproductive.

1) Brand Still Matters

The fifth Business School in the top five list would be a low ranked tier-2 Business School. Applicants get a sense of security to know that they would be admitted to at least one school even if they were rejected by four other schools.

If applicants had a choice of picking the fifth Business School based on merit, they would not have followed this process. This is an interesting behavior. You are not a failure if five top schools reject you. A considerable number of re-applicants get into top Business School.

When the economy is down with low attrition rate, employers have a large pool of talented and experienced managers. It would be a better approach to leverage the brand name of top Business Schools than completing an MBA program from any Business School just for the sake of it.

2) More Thought-out Options

When the process of selecting MBA programs is based on probability of getting into the program, the choices can be faulty. Find out the key differentiators in each program. Don’t rely completely on what the Admission officer or marketing team is saying. Do your own research, and most importantly list your short-term goals and expected learning experience.

To map your short-term goals with programs that can fulfill it, answer the following questions:

1) What is the expected increase in pay (in $ and % increase)
2) Who are the top 10 recruiters in the program?
3) Is the school close to the city?
4) Does the location of the Business School influence recruitment activities?
5) What is the teaching methodology?
6) What are the qualification and achievements of the faculty?
7) Do the program offer exchange and travel opportunity?
8) What are the various experiential learning activities incorporated in the curriculum?
9) How is the grading process in the program?
10) Does the program require significant personal commitment? Can I pursue Entrepreneurial goals?
11) How is the Alumni network? Are they helpful in connecting with the right recruiter or are they good at mentoring?
12) What are the three negatives of the program?

The 12th question is the most important one. Most often, applicants give their full attention on the pros and leaves out the cons. It is important to understand the weaknesses of the program. Check whether the weaknesses are unbearable. With over 100 top-ranked Business Schools, there is no shortage of top ranked tier-1 and tier-2 Business Schools.

3) ROI depends on Post MBA Job

Although brand matters, ranking publications, blogs, forums, and social media often influence the perception about the Business School. The perception and reality might be different. The real judge is the recruiters. It is important that you network with current students and alumni, and get a sense of the brand reach of the Business School from a recruiter’s point of view.

1) Connect with the HR Manager from the recruiting company
2) Do recruiters have confidence in the quality of the program?
3) Do you see any conclusive recruitment pattern from the school?
4) Which sector or job function is the most actively sought?
5) What is lacking in the career service team?
6) Do the recruiters in the school’s network enable you to reach your short-term goals?
7) Does the location of the school influence recruitment activity and visits?
8) What is the reach of the Alumni network – location, position, and influence?

For international students, the opportunity to pursue an MBA should be based on the economy, competition, visa rules, and ROI potential. We have covered them in our MBA Research Guide with topics that include:

1) Top 10 MBA Based on GDP Growth
2) Top MBA Job Markets based on Expense and Purchasing Power
3) Top MBA Markets Based on Innovation Index

The real question is about the return on investment. Unfortunately, applicants look at ROI from a cost point of view. The more important question is the time. The time invested in getting an MBA from a low-ranked tier-2 MBA program can be well utilized to earn an additional 1 or 2 years of experience. With the diversity of experience, the probability to get into top MBA programs increases. If the right effort has been put in for GMAT preparation, and the scores are within + or – 20 points from the class median, re-applicants don’t have to take the GMAT again, saving 3-4 months of preparation. The focus can be completely on Essays, Interview, and Recommendation Letter.

4) Point of No Return

We have seen this interesting behavior in Entrepreneurs and high-stake decision makers. When you don’t have any backup plan, the level of commitment increases. The GMAT preparation would be intense; you will pay more attention to the essays, manage the recommendation letter writing process better, and meet the Round 1 or Round 2 deadlines.

In a way, this is a self-deception but a healthy one. If the fifth school is a backup school where you are guaranteed to enter, the effort that you put in for other four schools would be much lower. Often the sacrifice required for GMAT preparation, Essay Writing, Interviews and Managing Recommenders come from extraordinary commitments.

When the stakes are high, the effort increases and so is the probability of getting things right.

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Best Practices to find the truth in MBA Information Session or MBA Tour

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Harvard vs. Stanford MBA

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  Class Profile   
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+ Germany: Industry Trends, Post MBA Jobs and Salaries (2020) (NEW!)
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