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[QOTM #2] Deciding Factors: Why that school?


Inspired by Gilmore Girls and Rory´s school selection, this month´s QOTM is… Applicants, How did you decide your target schools and where you would best fit? Ambassadors, what was the key factor that made you decide ´This is the school for me´ over the others?

Get personal, guys! Was it your major? Location? People you met? A campus visit? etc. :smile:


My target schools were mostly geographic based. Both my wife and I have family in California, so I really focused on the schools out here. Coming from a background at Berkeley, when I was applying I really wanted to get a different atmosphere from that at Cal (and I have an implicit bias against Stanford because I’ve been heavily networked within the Cal Alumni Association and couldn’t even get myself to consider it). At the same time, my GPA may not have made me competitive.

In looking at the remaining schools in California, it really came down to UCLA, USC, and UCDavis. The campus visits really made a huge impact on what I thought about the schools. I really liked the interactions that I observed between students at USC, I felt slightly put off by the interactions between students at UCLA, and saw UC Davis as a potential up and comer with lots of silicon valley ties. Prior to my visits, I definitely had a heirarchy of UCLA>>USC>UCDavis, but after I felt that personally they were UCLA~=USC > UCDavis.

When it came down to decision time, I received a large scholarship at Davis, was wait listed at USC, and dinged from UCLA. Because I did engineering undergrad at UC Berkeley, my GPA was definitely a factor in where I initially got in (at UC Berkeley, the average engineering GPA is 2.7 - the school is one of the few that actually does grade deflation :frowning: ). Knowing how powerful the USC network is, I really pushed for that acceptance there: bumped my GMAT from 710->720, took an outside class, and started pulling in some finance at work. When I received my acceptance in May/June, I really had to think hard with my wife on where I wanted to go long term. In the end, I chose USC primarily because of the alumni network. A second reason was the class size: with around 220 student per class, I felt that we would have a lot more opportunities to meet long term friends. After almost finishing this first year, I absolutely would have made the same decision. My wife and I have loved it more than we thought we would and I can’t wait to help push this school back into the top 20 (:wink:).


Thanks for sharing @Steve_Huber! Yours were geography based as well, at least for the initial choices right, @danc?


Dear @MargaretTouchMBA, you are absolutely correct. Since the start of my application process, I limited myself to only look at schools in the Asia Pacific region. Given my future career goals, it made most sense to start building a network in individuals that have a career or looking to start their career in Asia.

I narrowed down my selection of schools to CEIBS, Fudan, Shanghai jiaotong, HKUST, and Waseda. CEIBS was on the top of my list because of two reasons. Firstly, I’d always wanted to live in China as I’ve been fascinated by Chinese culture and history growing up. Secondly, the CEIBS summer boot camp 2016 solidified my impression on doing an MBA in CEIBS.

Upon receiving the offer letter from CEIBS, I withdrew from my applications from the other schools.

Best regards.


This is a great question. The main factors I prioritised were:

  1. Geography
    I’d lived in S.America for 18 years, Europe for 5 years and Asia for 6 years so I was very clear about prioritising studying in the US to obtain that type of cultural exposure. However, for the sake of retaining flexibility given the current macro-political landscape, I will also be applying to B schools in Europe!

  2. Network and international presence
    Having a supportive and international network is crucial to building an international career - what I’m aiming for. In this regard, I prioritised schools on: (1) How evenly widespread the alumni were globally, (2) The culture of the school, (3) The selection and background of professors who can act as great mentors as Darren suggested in one of the podcasts, and (4) Programs that offered exchange opportunities overseas

  3. Campus
    Since I plan to transition into the renewable energy sector or green tech, it was important to me that the schools shared my values on sustainability. I targeted schools with the green campuses, invested significant research in renewables and other environment-related areas, and had a history of collaborating with environmental/energy institutions.

Of course there were other factors such as school reputation, rankings, base salaries, visa issues and being able to find work upon graduating and what not. But I figured at the end of the day, that’s really in the hands of the students. If they want something bad enough they must work hard to fight for it :slight_smile:

Hope this was helpful!


Deciding between different BSchools can be tough indeed. I can not stress enough how important it is to visit the school’s campuses and to get a feeling for the unique culture of each school. In the end my decision came down to

  1. Location:
    I see myself in Europe long-term and therefore wanted to build an extensive network on the continent. Moreover, it will make it easier to regularly return to Germany.

  2. class profile:
    While many US schools boast a large number of foreigners, they are by for less heterogeneous than LBS: I was looking for a truly international class with people from various cultures, backgrounds and countries

  3. Flexibility of the program:
    As a non-traditional MBA candidate, I felt that it will be essential to have a very flexible program that would potentially allow for a second internship in order to get an even better feeling for my career aspirations.