Apr 14, 2016

Which school should I attend?

After months (and sometimes years) of getting to know you through your application, your interview, emails, and conversations…we know you’re pretty phenomenal! We also know there are other MBA programs that think so too. And now, with enrollment deadlines right around the corner, you have a flattering—yet difficult—choice to make.

Which school should I attend?  

To start, we’d counter that this is the wrong question. Instead, frame it this way: At which school do I see myself thriving? Where can I make the most of my MBA experience? Which community can I see myself a part of? Who are the people I want as my friends, classmates, teammates, and network?

You’ve been doing this already, but keep talking to current students and alumni. Attend any admit weekends if you’re able. And then…reflect. Can you see yourself at the schools you’re considering? Was the campus and community a place you could live for two years? Are the students and alumni people you could identify with? Are they people you feel compelled to get to know? Did they make you feel comfortable throughout your conversations with them? Was the overall vibe of the school in keeping with your core principles and values? As you ask yourself these questions, many others will come up that will be more specific to you. Don’t underestimate the importance of fit as you consider which school is right for you.

A brief word on the role scholarships might play in your decision. An alum might equate scholarships to a corporate finance principle: don't use short-term funds to invest in long-term capital. Simply put, remove the scholarship (or short-term funds) from the equation entirely. Then, decide which program and which community, can offer you the most value and growth. Where do you see yourself spending the next two years, and who you want to be associated with for a lifetime?

Now, crunch the numbers and consider what they mean. Tuck’s Financial Aid Office encourages all students to review the “Information on Managing Your Money” section of the Mapping Your Future website.

Another valuable resource at Mapping Your Future is the Debt Wizard tool. Here you can determine how much salary is needed to make payments on current and future student loan debt and how much can be borrowed based on expected future earnings.

A post-MBA salary can vary drastically depending on what industry you go into and where you’re located geographically. For example, jobs in the non-profit sector will not pay as much as those in consulting, and a consulting job in India probably won’t pay as much as one in New York. Maybe it does make sense to put a higher premium on scholarship money, but you owe it to yourself to determine exactly what that amount will mean in the grand scheme of things.

Good luck!