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        5 Tips For Finding An MBA That Fits, From A Wharton School Graduate

        Ben Williams says MBA rankings are less important

        There’s no two ways about it: finding the right MBA program can be a tricky undertaking.

        The costs of an MBA can be daunting. However, it will grant you the opportunity to forge new business connections, gain valuable experience, and expand your knowledge base at breakneck speed. Consider it an investment — like buying a house.

        Early in my search for a program, I religiously studied the MBA rankings. But I eventually realized these rankings weren’t as important as the “why” behind my MBA journey.

        That brought me to my final decision — Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania — because of the school’s brand recognition, excellent alumni network, and favourable faculty-to-student ratio. Identify what your priorities are.

        Different people want different things from their MBAs. Luckily for you, because there are so many programs out there, you are bound to find one that suits your goals and budget.

        Here are five questions that will send you down the right path:

        1. What’s your end goal? It’s a simple and obvious question, but it’s still one you have to ask. What do you want to get out of your MBA? New knowledge? Business connections? Practical skills? All of the above?

        Different programs have different strengths, and your decision should ultimately hinge upon which program opens the most doors and best propels you toward your personal end goal.

        2. Where do you want to go? This is not a philosophical question. Literally, where do you want to live? If you have a business idea that will thrive in a particular geographic market, consider furthering your education in that region and building connections with local alumni and business figures along the way.

        3. What’s your special interest? Business is a massive field, and different programs will focus on different areas. Think carefully about specific skills you want to develop and about which programs offer the best opportunities to better yourself in those areas.

        4. How important is program reputation to you? It might seem shallow, but the influence your MBA holds as a brand will be one of the things future employers, connections, and venture capitalists take into consideration (often without realizing it!).

        Knowing you earned an MBA from that prestigious institution will look impressive on paper and help you stand out. When it comes to choosing the right program, it’s critical to decide how important reputation is to you.

        5. What legacy are you joining? Alumni communities are important considerations. Do your research to see what types of alumni-focused groups are available.

        Conclusion

        Don’t let the endless options overwhelm you. View the process as an opportunity to make a smart, thoughtful decision that will forever change your professional life. Enrolling in an MBA program might feel like a leap of faith, but when the leap is backed by research and soul-searching, you can form the perfect foundation for whatever you’re trying to build.

        Ben Williams has an MBA from the Wharton School. He is an entrepreneur and technologist who specializes in tech, energy, and aerospace. He’s currently COO of Reelio, a media tech start-up based in New York City.