Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Part 2

Happy New Year! The admissions team has returned from a restful – but productive – Winter Break and is eager to continue crafting the W&M MBA Class of 2015. Our previous blog highlighted our Admissions Committee and how we determine the best fit among a pool of talented candidates for the Mason School of Business. Now that Round 1 decisions have been made and you’ve gained admission into our program and other competitive B School options, it is your turn to select which B school is right for you! While you are making this important decision for your future, we encourage you to consider the four “F’s” of matching with the right business school: Faculty, Focus, Finances and Fit.

When it comes to the learning community, you want to make sure the faculty who are providing instruction are the best of the best and are committed to teaching. Be sure to take a look at the grades professors receive in business education publications. William & Mary’s Mason School of Business faculty consistently receives an A+ rating in BusinessWeek and are ranked fifth in Princeton Review’s Best Professors category. However, rankings do not always tell the entire story. You also want to know how accessible your faculty members are, and how they allocate their time for teaching and research. You want to make sure that they will be available to their students outside of the class meeting times and that they have the right balance between teaching, research and student engagement. These are the professors that will be most beneficial to you throughout your MBA experience and beyond – just ask our current MBAs about our W&M faculty.

Another very important aspect to consider is program offerings. Mapping your desired course of study in advance can allow you to maximize your investment, returning the most gain. Be sure to clearly understand what each program you are considering offers in terms of curriculum content, experiential learning opportunities, coaching, leadership development and also career preparation. While a general management MBA allows some flexibility and exposure to a core set of business fundamentals, you will want to consider if you are interested in a particular concentration. For example, most programs will offer a concentration in marketing; you need to be sure to ask what type: business to consumer (brand management), business to business, marketing research and analytics, digital marketing, social media, luxury brand, etc. Some programs will have strengths within a certain functional area, opening doors to industry – it is important that you can differentiate those features and how they best align with your post-MBA aspirations.

Once you have affirmed that your potential program offers you both access to world-class faculty and a pathway for your individual focus, you also need to consider the financial investment that you will make to pursue the opportunity without distraction. First and foremost, by now, you should have explored the cost of B School and have been working to save funds for your educational investment. Students fund their MBA in a number of ways including personal savings, merit-based scholarships from the institution and outside organizations, employee sponsorships, need-based loan funding from some institutions or outside lenders, etc. However you plan to support your MBA investment, be sure to have done your research to fully clarify tuition costs, cost of living, miscellaneous expenses, average scholarship, scholarship requirements, lending policies – so that you are not disappointed in the end when you go to calculate your ROI and make your selection. Most programs will give you your financial aid award at the same time as your admission decision, so you can see exactly what gap, if any, will exist in funding your education. More expensive does not always mean better quality, so the value you place on certain characteristics will help you determine the return you will receive on your investment.

Finally, you have your offers of admission in hand and everything looks good on paper. The faculty is top-notch, your area of concentration is a strength of the program, and your personal finances line up with the investment… it is time for the final and most important consideration: fit. What feeling do you get when you are engaging with members of the community on or off campus? Fit is an essential piece in determining your best B School match. You want to visualize yourself in the region, city, campus and classrooms where you will be spending the next two years of your life. If you have the opportunity to visit campus, it is a tremendously helpful way to solidify the fit factor. If you don’t have the chance due to work obligations or distance, consider your resources: discuss your decision-making with the admissions staff, ask to be connected to current students and alumni, discuss personal questions about campus community, family friendly, spouse and partner support and alumni network and always feel comfortable simply trusting your gut. If you have “that feeling” when you step foot on campus or take your interview – follow your intuition, it is probably right. The final decision is yours only to make and you should prioritize fit as a top factors – ideally – your MBA experience is for life.

We asked you to patiently wait while we reviewed Round 1 applications, conducted interviews and deliberated over candidates – now we wait for you! While we would love for all the talented revolutionary thinkers that we selected to join the Mason School of Business, we also understand the reality that you have likely received other strong offers from reputable schools. We hope that you will feel very comfortable reaching out to us in the decision-making process so that no stone is left unturned as you make your selection – but you must truly make the decision for yourself and your bright future, no one else. On behalf of our entire MBA Admissions team and Admissions Committee, we wish you the best of luck in this process and we truly hope that you will decide to join our MBA Class of 2015 and the Mason family!

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Randy Tripp

Randy currently serves as the Associate Director of MBA Admission for the Mason School. After graduating from William & Mary with his Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology in 2005, Randy worked in the Undergraduate Admission Office at William & Mary for 5 years. After being away from W&M for a year and a half, he returned to the Mason School in May 2012 to serve in his current role.

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