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What do people overlook when choosing the right MBA program?

Two Full-Time MBA Female Students

Earning an MBA is still the best way to invest in your career, and you’ll get a great education at all of the top business schools. So after you’ve done your round of research learning about business schools, dig deeper to think about just how you want to spend those two years earning your MBA.

Size matters, so find what’s right for you. The beauty of a smaller program is it’s likely to be more student centric. You get to really know your classmates and lay the foundation for a lifelong network. You also are likely to have greater access to your professors outside of class. A large program might give you access to a larger alumni network, but will you just be a number? In a smaller program, there can be more ways to get involved in clubs or school initiatives and hone your leadership skills.

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Breadth, depth and variety will enable you to better explore career options through your studies. Look at the electives, concentrations or majors, clubs and extracurriculars offered. This is especially important if you are a “career changer” so you can explore more industries and functions. What are the learning methods – just case studies? If you learn better by applying what learned, be sure there are chances to do consulting projects and case competitions.

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Look for a cultural fit. Do you perform at your best in a community of driven, but supportive peers? Or do you thrive in a competitive environment? Will your partner be welcome in the community? Do professors have open doors? What are the social components of the program – look at the what happens outside class, through activity clubs or informally.

Location, location, location. Do you want a major city or a college town? Do you want to be near a tech or entrepreneurial hub? Is there a good airport nearby? In terms of weather, do you want four seasons – keeping in mind that your internship could take you to a different city, state or coast over the summer? What’s a match for your personal or family life? Is there a strong alumni base locally you can tap into for learning, connecting or mentoring?

You’ll want access to industry, on campus and wherever you want to land after graduation. Take advantage of the local business community. Ideally you’ll find strong corporate connections with major corporations, small businesses, startups and nonprofits.