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Five Tips for Picking the Right Business College for Your M.B.A.

Getting your M.B.A. will help you develop a strong foundation of business knowledge. Of course, it is a huge investment of both money and time, so you want to be sure that you choose a college that best supports your career goals.

Going to business school for your M.B.A. will help you develop a strong foundation of business knowledge so you can understand how organizations work, while forging a path of career advancement for yourself. Of course, it is a huge investment of both money and time, so you want to be sure that you choose a college that best supports your career goals.

When embarking on your search for the right business school for your M.B.A. pursuit, start with some research on yourself. Think about your expectations, your lifestyle, and your responsibilities and how school will fit into the picture. Can you attend full time, or will you need a more flexible solution such as part-time, weekend, or online classes? Are you willing to travel or relocate for a specific school? What is your financial situation, and how much loan debt can you realistically take on?

Once you have a general idea of the size and scope of your ideal M.B.A. program, you can begin narrowing down your list of potential schools. Read on for tips on doing just that . . .

Make a list, check it twice

Go online or hit the library or bookstore, and look at guidebooks or lists of business schools and/or M.B.A. programs. National publications can be a good place to start, but you should also see if schools near you might have the kind of program you’re seeking. If you had a good experience at your undergraduate institution, you can see if it offers a graduate business program as well.

Ask businesspeople what they think

If you already work for a company, see where the executive team studied for their M.B.A.s. If there are a few companies that you aspire to work for, look through the LinkedIn profiles of their execs to see which business schools they attended. And if you know anyone personally who has gone for an M.B.A., ask about his or her alma mater to get a sense of what the program is like.

Check into program details

Not every M.B.A. is created equal, and many have different tracks of specialization. Consider whether or not you want to have a specialized area of study, whether it’s international business, ecommerce, marketing, finance, etc., and see which schools have those course offerings.

Speaking of details, will you get in?

There are some very selective M.B.A. programs out there, so make sure you have the qualifications to gain acceptance to whichever ones you apply to. You’ll likely have to take the GMAT or GRE, for starters, and may also need to have carried a certain GPA as an undergraduate. Some business schools require additional materials such as essays, work samples, and/or letters of reference too.

Go straight to the source

If you have a handful of business schools you’re interested it, reach out directly to them with questions and concerns. Nearly every school is on Facebook and Twitter, and most would be happy to put you in touch with a current student to get the scoop on what the program is like. You can also e-mail specific questions to the admission or financial aid office, and request a campus visit to see what the vibe is in person.

The right business college can open a lot of doors and take your career to new heights, so choose wisely.

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