In this second of a two part series, I will provide my responses to ten of the questions prospective business school applicants most often ask. In this article I will discuss questions 6 through 10.
Question 6: What if I have a really bad experience with an admissions representative, current student, faculty member, alumnus, etc., on the phone or in person during a campus visit/recruitment event? Either they are extremely rude to me, or we become engaged in some sort of an argument and I say something I should not, or both?
Response: My first piece of advice is not to do anything for at least 24 hours. Calm down; sleep on it and then act. If you believe something you said or did was inappropriate, contact ONLY the individual to whom you want to apologize and do so in person or on the phone. I do not suggest putting the apology in writing. If you believe someone behaved in an inappropriate manner toward you, you should certainly feel free to contact the director of admissions and make a formal complaint. Some individuals may not hesitate to do this and feel completely within their rights to make known what happened. Others may decide that they do not want to say anything for fear that it could affect the outcome of their application. This is a personal choice. However, having been in situations where complaints were made about a member of my staff, a student host, an alumni interviewer, etc. by an applicant, I can honestly say that such complaints never resulted in that person’s application being given anything but the most thorough review possible to ensure that a fair and equitable decision was made.
Question 7: If I delete the name of one business school and replace it with another, the marketing information on the web, in a video, or on the printed page basically sounds the same – just a varied ordering of copy, and different visual images/graphics. How can I trust what I read on the web or in printed materials?
Response: As with any type of advertising, b-schools want to put their best foot forward. They do so by using words, phrases and clichés that sound very familiar. Do not be surprised by this. If you dig deeper, you will be able to start making some helpful comparisons. For instance, get a list of a few recent graduates from the MBA program to which you are applying and contact them. What do these individuals have to say (Remember, they are no longer enrolled so they can be completely candid with you.)? Did they get what they came for? What about the faculty – how well known are they? How recently have they been published? Once admitted, get information on how their classes have been evaluated in the past two years. Get a list of the top five recruiters of graduates from the school. What do they have to say about the quality of education? And last but not least, visit the campus if at all possible. What did you observe? How were you treated? How did you fit in? Overall, how did you feel? The way one feels during a campus visit is usually how one feels as a student.
Question 8: At what point does an institution move from being wonderfully responsive to me, and start looking too desperate to recruit me?
Response: As the competition for graduate students increases, so does the level of contact institutions will have with them. It may be a bit difficult to distinguish between genuine interest and overkill. But do your best to follow your gut. Does the contact seem reasonable? Are you being contacted more than once per week (that might be a bit excessive)? Are the contacts made to you varied and do they contain new and helpful information? Are folks respectful of you? Are those contacting you upbeat, but not begging you to enroll all the time? Are they careful not to speak unkindly or inappropriately about other options you may be considering? More selective institutions tend to recruit less. But that is a very general statement. Almost everyone has stepped into the recruitment ring these days. There is competition at all levels, even at the most selective institutions.
Question 9: Is an online graduate program as credible as the more traditional one?
Response: My thoughts on this have evolved over the past 20 years. Early on, online programs, while academically sound, did not offer students with the opportunity to interact with professors and fellow students. But this has largely changed. There are many online graduate degree programs that incorporate “real-time” interation that closely mirrors that of a more traditional program. In addition, many institutions are offering hybrid programs, that blend some real-time learning with what takes place online. As the costs of higher education continue to rise, and as the credibility of online graduate programs increases, earning an online graduate degree is becoming more and more a viable option.
One final observation: It seems the bulk of online graduate programs are offered at the master’s level, not at the doctoral level.
Question 10: What if my finances are just not adding up? What if going to graduate school seems economically impossible?
Response: This is definitely something to consider, no doubt about it. It is helpful if you have at least one year’s tuition “in the bank” before you enroll. Make sure you know what financial aid you can receive, including loans, scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, work-study, etc. Do some financial planning. You might consider meeting with a financial advisor, or with trusted relatives, loved ones and/or friends. Cover all the bases – do not leave anything to chance. Make sure you know that you can cover what you need to cover. Do not enroll if you have not planned, to the best of your ability, for the financial responsibilities you are about to assume.
Check out Dr. Don’s MBA blog series on U.S. News & World Report: https://www.usnews.com/topics/author/dr_don_martin?offset=50
DISCOUNT ON DR. DON’S BOOK RIGHT HERE ON THE GSRM WEBSITE!!
Be sure to check out Dr. Don’s book, “Road Map for Graduate Study, A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students,” right here on the GSRM website. For a reduced price CLICK HERE, go to The Book page, scroll down, click on the Order Now box, and use discount code GSRM.