In a previous blog post, three ways to manage stress as an MBA student, I told my story of the triggers which propelled me to go out and do an MBA.
Having grown up, studied and worked in Brisbane, a large but low-populated city, at age 24 I found myself sinking into a professional and social comfort zone. I decided I needed a change of environment.
I felt the need to travel but didn’t want to spend my time in jobs that didn’t match my career ambitions. I’d always considered an MBA for professional reasons, and now I knew it was now or never. Hult International Business School in Boston became my home for a year.
Talking to fellow students on campus, I was surprised at the number of others who had been in a similar situation to me before pursuing their MBA. They went through a comparable series of steps in deciding which programme to study and at which university. We all agreed that this process was the most exciting and nerve-racking part of starting the MBA.
In deciding which programme was the right one for me, I naturally passed through the following phases.
I began my research phase properly after I’d completed my GMAT and about six months before the start of the first semester. By this point, I’d already made up my mind that I wanted to study in the States. This was due to a number of reasons, but mainly because it seemed the best place to escape my comfort zone.
My top three criteria for research were:
An important factor for networking opportunities and, ultimately, employment after graduation. As an international student not necessarily familiar with the destinations I was considering, I also searched websites to find cool things to do around campus.
2. Support from admissions staff
The overall friendliness of the university’s students, professors and community I came into contact with. Whenever I received helpful and friendly replies to my queries, that counted strongly in the favour of the university in question.
On the other hand, sometimes I was given a general admissions email address with no point of contact, and would often not receive a response until several days later. This would give me a negative impression of the university.
3. University culture
Different parts of a university’s culture resonate with different people. As a student coming from overseas, I wanted to know how international the university was, how international students were supported and whether they were offered equal opportunities.
I proceeded by creating a shortlist of about six universities to apply to.
When I applied to Hult, I was allocated a dedicated admissions manager who built a great working relationship with me (we’re still in touch today).
We chatted on Skype regularly, and he was frequently available on short notice. He would nurture me by sending me useful videos and reading material, not just about Hult but also about life in Boston. He’d also send me frequent updates on the status of my application and what the next steps would be.
I didn’t receive this level of service from any of the other schools I applied to. Generally, they would send me an email explaining the application steps and asking me to contact them if I had any questions throughout the process.
As a result of the differing standard of application experiences, I abandoned my application to three of the six universities. I was fortunate to then receive offers from the three that I applied to.
I had now dreamed about being on all three of these campuses. I had researched each of the cities. I’d even started looking into accommodation options, gym memberships and leisure activities. It wasn’t a bad problem to have, but for a short period, I was torn between the three universities.
I referred back to my criteria of location, support from admission staff, and university culture. Once I reconsidered these criteria, I wasn’t so torn anymore.
Hult fulfilled the location criteria: they have locations all over the world, including three in the US. They never tried to sell me on locations outside the US. The school has a very international culture and a massive international student body, which they promote in very engaging ways.
But where Hult came out head and shoulders ahead of the others was in the support I received from admission staff. The constant contact meant I was very informed about the school as well as the city, student body, professors and job prospects.
As a result, I was far more confident attending Hult than either of the other universities that sent me offers. After I accepted, I was invited to join the closed Facebook group, and consistently emailed more updates and general information on life as a Hult student.
I was impressed by the way Hult did business. Given the size of their student body, I sensed a highly sophisticated recruitment model to nurture that number of candidates from the research phase all the way through to after the decision. For this reason, I was even more excited and motivated to kick-off my MBA journey.
What did your MBA admissions experience look like? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet.