Clearing the confusion of multiple MBA admits

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 MBA 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?

Qualitative implications

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.

Timing implications

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.

Financial implications

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.

Start here | Success stories | Reality check | Knowledgebase | Scholarships | Services

Serious about higher ed? Follow us:


Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

10 thoughts on “Clearing the confusion of multiple MBA admits”

  1. Sameer saab…this is eggjaktly the situation I am in…..have an admit offer from CEIBS with tempting scholarship and very hopeful of an admit offer from ISB as well…..both are good brands in their domestic circle and economical (in street terms…gareebo ki Katrina kaif) which satisfies my primary need and would cost me the same…..CEIBS scores in every parameter that I identified for myself but the job opportunities in the sector I look to work post-MBA which is not very promising esp. being an Indian applicant…..ISB on the other hand is in the transformational phase with Mohali campus in picture……. i would love to hear your take on this two choices…….

  2. Ankit saab, mubarak ho! The dilemma of more offers is always better than the disappointment of none.

    What sets apart 1 bschool from other generally fall in the following category: learning, classmates, career opportunities, other resources. Now shuffle that based on the priority. Chances are ‘career opportunities’ will figure somewhere in the top half.

    CEIBS offers an edge over ISB when it comes to international students. But the diversity doesn’t come close to what European schools offer.

    The learning might be comparable too.

    China and India get clubbed together by the Western countries in terms of growth opportunities. But at the end of the day despite being in the one of the most vibrant economies if you can’t get access to the post MBA opportunities in the sector (I’m keen to know what goal you have in mind) you are interested in, it’ll be a big handicap.

    In that scenario (and with all the other details about your profile that I may not be aware of), I’d go with ISB.

    From your responses on Pagalguy, I see that you are currently more inclined towards CEIBS. So I’m sure there are more aspects that you considered to have formed that perception.

  3. Nice Article. I am sailing in the same boat as described in the post. Have two extremely good offers. The above approach really helped me evaluate my options and reach a conclusion. Effective approach!

  4. Thanks Sameer saab for your valuable opinion.
    I come from Automotive background (S&M) and want to move towards strategic roles in marketing,post-MBA.I also look forward to shift from industrial product to consumer product based industry.Through my research with CEIBS resources, i do see opportunities available through CEIBS in the particular domain but the companies prefer native Chinese over international applicants because of local advantage.Hence, employability in niche segments, for international applicants, is a concern in spite of booming Chinese economy. Despite this, i have an inclination towards CEIBS because of following reasons:
    First and foremost, an opportunity to explore a whole new culture.As you point out, the learning in classroom is comparable with ISB but the the learning outside classroom at CEIBS is no match.
    Secondly, the optimum length of the program.18 months would give me time to breathe and enjoy(if i can call it ) my MBA journey much better.Smaller batch-size is add on too.
    Thirdly, realising the dream of earning education outside homeland country.This might well be my last education degree and i prefer having it outside India.
    There are many other minor reasons which are swaying my boat in either direction but i am still exploring before taking that leap of faith,and who knows ISB might make it easy for me on Feb 15th.

  5. @Ajay: Congrats, bro. I like the way you’ve added the word ‘extremely’ to that statement. Shows what a fantastic situation you are in.

    @Ankit: All 3 points are perfectly valid in choosing CEIBS. For the other challenges you’ve listed (culture/language barrier), in the worst case if you don’t get a job in China do you think you’d be able to get something good (and aligned with your aspirations) back in India? The answer to that question should give you another data point that’ll help you arrive at a decision.

  6. I have got offer letters from Cass Business school, from Durham and from Bath School of management. I am extremely confused as to which one should i choose. Class business school offers me no scholarship at all. However, there is a chance of getting a small amount of scholarship from Bath (3000punds) and about 6000pounds scholarship from Durham. which one should i choose?. Keeping in mind that I would want to work in India after the course
    thank you !

  7. @bharat: I’d have picked Cass due to its proximity to London and its strong network in finance.

    But the brands aren’t universal. If you plan to come back to India, none of the 3 options would give you a leg up in the race.

  8. Hi,

    I am 29 and planing to do my MBA next year. I applied this year and got an admit from HKUST and waitlist in INSEAD. I am leaving HKUST as I want to try for US schools next year when I will be 30.

    I am IITD graduate and has experience of working in a bulge bracket investment bank for 4 years in India, Singapore and HK; 3 startups and currently working for a startup investment bank where I help startups to raise funds from VCs. I leading their practice in India. I want to shift to VC or PE and for that I am applying for my MBA.

    Do you think it is right for me to leave my HKUST admit and try for a US MBA?


    • @New Guy: At MBA Crystal Ball, our general (conservative) philosophy is to value the bird in hand.

      While you’ll have more opportunities in the US for the VC/PE goals you have, you’ll be graduating on the wrong side of 30 (from a US recruitment angle) if you choose to apply to American MBA degrees now.

      Also, we aren’t in favour of dropping something that you’ve already started. Doesn’t paint the right picture to the world at large (including bschools and prospective employers) about your decision making and planning abilities.

      In your shoes, we’d go ahead with the HKUST MBA.

  9. Hi Sameer sir,

    Thank you for the article.I currently hold offer from Kingston (London), loughborough university and Aston for general MBA. I am unable to choose wisely,Please help me in choosing the right one,I want to work in UK post my MBA..



Leave a Comment