The Hardest MBA Application Choice

If your MBA application was successful at more than one business school, how do you choose the MBA program for you? Let me tell you, you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from your friends and family, but we’ve watched countless clients agonize over this problem.

Each business school represents a different future with its own network, career and ability to make an impact, but you don’t know what those futures are before you choose which one to take. Stressed out? Angela Guido’s got you – here’s how to make the right choice for you.

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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

It’s that time of year when people are getting their acceptance letters, the “It's a yes!” email subject lines. It's the most exciting time of the year in the MBA coaching world and some of you have gotten yourselves into the very sticky predicament of getting admitted to more than one school. I'm here to tell you your friends do not feel your pain, but I know what a difficult position you're in, and today I'm going to help you choose the right MBA program for you if you got into more than one. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, spinning the MBA hits every Monday right here on this channel, except when we're talking about career stuff, which is more and more often these days because the MBA is just one little part of what ideally is going to be a long and successful career for which all kinds of additional skills and tips and tricks are required. But today we're talking about business school and how to choose the right one for your career as you seek to move ahead.

Pick Two – Be Kind To Yourself

  • Be brutal (you didn’t think the hard work was over, right?)

First thing to understand is that if you're feeling a very high degree of anxiety and suffering about the fact that you need to make this choice, you're not alone. Many of our clients get into multiple schools, and the answer of which school is best for them is not obvious. And they put so much work and have gotten to know these schools so well that it's very, very hard to close the door on an opportunity that you've worked so hard to earn. So if you're full of anxiety, don't worry, that's a normal reaction to having to make such a wonderful choice between more than one MBA program. All right, the second thing you're probably going to want to do, if you've gotten into more than two programs, is to narrow down your options to just your favorite two. It's going to be really hard to continue to keep three, four, five options open as you seek to narrow it down to one. You're going to see why when I tell you about the research you need to do to really finally fine tune your choice. But it also just like boggles the mind. So the first step you want to take is to get rid of all the schools that you're pretty sure are a no for you. So for most of you, you're going to keep the top-two-ranked programs. You're going to keep the school that gave you the most scholarships and the one that you love the most. You're going to keep the one where you feel the strongest cultural fit, even though it might be a slightly weaker brand than the other school you're going to keep on your list. You decide what your criteria are, but the first thing you want to do is limit is pare the list down to just two schools. Then you're going to dig really deep into getting to know both of these programs inside and out and ultimately rely on your feelings to make the choice. Let me tell you how this works. So, first thing you want to do is actually go download our “Choose The Right MBA Program For You” framework. It's like a list of all the ten things you're going to want to research about each school so that you can really arrive at a very sound, very well-reasoned conclusion. Ultimately, it's probably not your thinking or your logic that's going to tell you the right answer, but we're all trained to really use our brain to think through options and to do research and if you don't do that research, you might later regret that you made a snap decision without really thinking it through. So, take the time to do the research that you need to do to make sure that you are choosing the right program for you.


What is that research you may ask? I don't remember. I'm going to look it up. We also have a post on our blog about this. I'm just going to link that as well. Go download that template because it has a checklist of all the kinds of research that you're going to want to do to really ascertain which program is right for you. I'm going to put the emphasis in this video on two things that are probably going to be your guiding light in the decision process.

1. Which program leaves you in the best position for your post-MBA career?

The first is which program positions you best for the career opportunities you want to have post MBA. You might want to talk to career services. You might want to talk to students and alumni and figure out where they went. You might want to research which companies are recruiting at each MBA program. Think about geography, think about industry, think about the companies that you want to work for. Really get to know which school is going to provide differential value as you seek to make the next step in your career. That's one side of the research.

2. The community: do you like the people?

Then the other side of the research, which is equally important, is to get to know as many people as you can from this program. Go to the admitted students’ weekend for both schools if you can, and meet your classmates and just see how you feel. See who you vibe with more. See which community feels more comfortable. Try to envision yourself living in this city, attending school on this campus, mingling with this group of people. This research is super important because a lot of times the very best school for you is not going to be super different from the rest in terms of the quality of the academics or the career placement opportunities or all the other resources that they offer. If you're, at this point, comparing relatively competitive programs, you're probably going to find that either one is going to satisfy you on most of the quantitative career development dimensions. But where they are going to be potentially very different is in the feel of the community, the culture, and the student body vibe. Business school is where you're going to meet some of the best friends of the rest of your life. Your MBA network is not just a faceless mass of people that you can reach out to on LinkedIn, it's people that you're going to spend the next two years with learning, growing, playing, collaborating, and doing all the fun stuff that you do in business school. You're going to form real friendships that are going to last for the rest of your life. So, it's really important that you surround yourself with the people that you want to be around. And most of our clients find that if they allow the people to influence their choice, the answer becomes really clear because they feel a lot more copacetic. They feel a lot more resonance with one group of people than with another. That's good information and you should trust it. If you have a clear sense of which school you prefer after attending the admitted students’ weekend, pick the one you like better and don't look back.

Flip A Coin (Kind Of) & Trust Your Emotions

But if you're one of the many people who does all the research, you figure out all the analysis, all the pros and cons, who's winning on this dimension, who's winning on that dimension, and you still can't make up your mind, then here's a trick that I love to use when I'm trying to make a really difficult decision. What you're going to do is you're going to let a coin toss determine the outcome for you. Not really, but you're going to pretend. So here's what you do. Let's say you're deciding between Booth and Kellogg. Two great programs, lots to offer, both in Chicago… Different in their own way, but both great. So let's say you decide that Booth is heads and Kellogg is tails and you're going to do whatever the coin says. Try to imagine, try to really commit in your mind to actually doing what the coin says. All right, then you flip the coin and you see what the coin says. Let's say it lands heads, that means you're going to Booth. Now, in that split second after you realize what the coin has determined about your destiny, you want to pay attention to how you feel. The coin says you got to go to Booth. Do you feel a jolt of excitement? Do you feel a burst of energy? Do you feel relieved or uplifted? Is the general emotion that you're feeling right now positive? If that's the case, then Booth is probably the right choice for you, and you should pick Booth and don't look back. On the flip side, are you feeling a slightly negative sensation? Do you feel a little bit deflated? Do you feel the bad kind of anxiety? Not the, I'm excited, this is going to be maybe great, but I don't know anxiety, but they really like, This doesn't feel good kind of anxiety. Are you feeling disappointed, depressed? Are you feeling low? If that's how you feel when the coin tells you to go to Booth, then you should probably go to Kellogg. You want to trust your emotions to enable you to make the final decision. After your brain, after your logic, after your analysis has done all the work that it can do through your research, your emotions are going to give you a much more robust answer that includes a lot of components that your logical brain can't really access. So, you can really trust your emotions. After you've done the research, you can trust your feelings to lead you in the right direction, and I really, really encourage you not to override your feelings. If your feelings are telling you that you should go to Booth and you go to Kellogg, there might come a day that you will regret that decision. So use the coin flip trick to trick your emotions into telling you how they really feel about each school and that should tell you which school you're going to be happiest at. Which school you really belong at, which school is the best place to set the stage for the rest of your career.

If you're in the amazing position of having to choose between multiple amazing MBA programs, really, congratulations. Please leave a comment for me. If you watched any of my videos and they helped you achieve that outcome, I'd really love to hear from you. Just drop me a comment in the chat down there that says, Hey, I got into two schools and I watched this video or that video, and I'll reply and I'll give you all the cheering emojis. We just love it when people succeed and especially if something we did contributed to that. So, good luck with your decision. I know that you're not going to have a lot of sympathy from your friends and family, but I also know this is a really tough decision you're going to make because one school leads to one future, the other school leads to a different one, and you can only have one. This is the downside of YOLO. You only get to have one MBA experience. So best of luck making that choice and I will see you next week on MBA Monday.

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Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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