Your MBA: Pros and Cons of “Big Schools”

As you begin your MBA research, and start studying for the GMAT, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is where you want to apply. There’s a huge range of business schools out there, and one way to help you narrow down the list is to consider what size school you want to attend. The Best Business Schools are typically a bit larger, but there are cons to even the most reputable program. What will be the best business school for you depends a lot on your individual personality and post-academic goals. Here’s a few things to consider before choosing a “Big School”!

PROS

1 Name Value. There’s no denying that larger schools tend to have more name recognition. This doesn’t guarantee job security, but if you’re planning to work in New York or Washington DC, a world-famous program such as Oxford, Stanford, Wharton, etc. can be a big plus.

2. Traditional MBA Industries. If you’re looking to study traditional business sectors (i.e. finance/consulting) then a bigger school with more prestige could help you stand out in your field.

3. More alumni. Bigger schools mean more alumni working around the world, which could potentially lead to job opportunities later on.

CONS

1. Less individual attention. If you’re the type of person who thrives with a bit more attention, the cutthroat world of a larger business program may not be beneficial for you. Smaller schools typically have greater access to the faculty and you’ll likely develop a closer relationship with your advisors.

2. The Cost. The “bigger” schools (both in size and prestige) tend to be more expensive. Many students opt for a “B+” level school and get a great education for a reduced fee. Remember that expensive is not always better.

3. Tough Entry Requirements. Schools that appear regularly on the “ten best” or “world’s best” lists published annually by magazines such as BusinessWeek or U.S. News and World Report are incredibly competitive to get into. If you have a limited amount of time to devote to application and GMAT study, you may want to look at a few less-competitive options. Is spending another six months getting your GMAT score 80 points higher worth it for you?

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