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Clearing the confusion of multiple MBA admits
Written by Sameer Kamat
It’s the sweet dilemma most MBA applicants would love to have. As the top ranking business schools offering the best MBA programs start sending out the results, several of our clients have found themselves in this wonderful situation of getting multiple MBA admits (you’ll find some reactions on the MBA Crystal Ball reviews page). As the number of such cases has been increasing and the basic questions are more or less the same, we felt the topic deserved an independent blog post.
Just to clarify, this post isn’t about HOW to get multiple MAB admits. Rather it’s about what to do AFTER you get MBA admits from two or more schools that you’ve applied to. If there’s interest in the former, let us know. We might give you a sneak peek into the approach that we take (and it takes several months to fructify) that creates this ‘problem’ of multiple offers for some MBA applicants.
Why do multiple MBA admits cause confusion?
The MBA admissions process is expensive. MBA applicants have to be selective about the choice of schools they wish to apply to. From hundreds of eligible business schools, they have painstakingly narrowed down the choice to a few handful. The idea at the time of applications is ‘Each of these bschools can get me closer to my goals. I’d be lucky to get into any one of these’. When you have to choose between two or more equally strong brands, it’s not easy.
Then there’s also the issue of timing. Sometimes the MBA admission results are sent out by schools around the same time. So a candidate might get an admit from Harvard and Stanford, both in Round 1. So she’s got to choose between those right there.
In other cases, the results are separated by several weeks or months. This gets trickier for another reason that we describe next.
Once you get the MAB admit from the bschool, you aren’t off the hook. Now they’ll turn on the pressure to keep you locked in.
Their most effective tool? The security deposit. For many schools this could be between $500-$1000. For the elite ones, this could go up to $6000. And these deposits are non-refundable. Ouch!
The top Bschools spend a lot of time sifting through the volume of applications to filter out the best (Read this Clear Admit Interview where our friend and co-founder of Clear Admit, Graham Richmond explains the process). No wonder bschools are possessive about their ‘chosen ones’.
Not many have extra money to spare, specially when they know that they need to save every dollar possible to finance their MBA.
How to clear the confusion of multiple MBA admits
The best case scenario should be that you already created an internal prioritisation criteria while you were wondering how to select the best bschools that fit your profile. That would reduce (if not eliminate) the pain of going through an evaluation process all over again.
But most don’t anticipate the confusion that could arise later. Which means there’s no option but to get analytical once again. Start off with the original reasons for pursuing an MBA. List down all the parameters that are important to you – brand power, location, MBA ranking, cost of MBA (fees, living expenses), placements in the industry you like, climate, social life, opportunities on the campus.
Create an Excel spreadsheet, as it will help in creating an illusion that your approach is highly scientific. Now add columns for each school that has given you an offer or is likely to.
Decide on a rating scale (e.g. on a 5-scale: 1 – very bad, 2 – bad, 3 – average, 4- good, 5 – very good). Don’t get too carried away and end up creating something that becomes too unwieldy. Save those unwieldy and complex excel models for your clients after you graduate. They’ll even pay you for it.
Rate each parameter on this scale and add up the totals. It won’t be as simple as it sounds. Before you can assign a rating, you might have to do further research in areas that you had ignored at the time of applying.
But the final numbers should give you an additional data point that goes beyond just intuition, to take a call.
Don’t rely purely on your excel model to give you the answer. Numbers don’t always reveal the truth. Use your intuition and your preferences to validate the choices. For instance, if you’ve got MBA admits from a top-10 MBA program with no scholarship and a full-tuition waiver from another relatively lower ranked school, is the choice obvious? Maybe not.
You’ll need to decide if the premium that you’ll be paying to attend the higher ranked school is justified. There are no universal truths here. And Harvard may NOT be the best school for ALL applicants.
Whatever methodology you follow to arrive at the answer, remember this. If (a big ‘IF’) you have chosen your schools well during the application phase, you can’t go wrong with any of those choices even if you end up with many admission offers.
Hope many more of our readers (and not just clients) are able to enjoy the sweet dilemma of multiple MBA admits.