I offer the thoughts of my friend with the hope that they will serve as a catalyst for an ongoing dialogue in the comments section of this Blog. I encourage comments by those who have considered business school, are current MBA students, have graduated from business school or have a visceral reaction to the ideas being shared here.
Here are my friend's final introductory remarks before he launched into the substance of sharing his B-School ideas:
CONSIDERING BUSINESS SCHOOL
b. you've gone to the Admitted Students Weekend and had a chance to see the school up close
c. granted, I believe there is a value in having a "Plan A" or even that ideal outcome in your mind, but too many people waste their time whittling away too early
a. very few people (the top 5% of my peer set, at best) can afford to take that gamble. Also, regardless of how qualified you are, you never know what factors in to the application process.
b. to my first overall point, you've yet the do the proper research to narrow your choices so severely.
c. likely your first and second will be the worst applications you do. Applying as a learning/efficiency curve.
a. Even the greatest hitters, on any given day, can go 0 for 3 at the plate, so assuming you'll go 1 for 3 is not unreasonable
b. however even that is relatively optimistic if you plan on ONLY those three at bats for your entire life.
a. I define the sweet spot, if you were to poll most MBA students, as top 5 consulting firms, bulge bracket investment banks, and strategy/leadership development programs in companies like GE, Google, P&G etc.
b. A good school will also allow you to tap unconventional opportunities like top hedge funds/private equity shops (more mainstream now, but still less conventional from a recruiting standpoint), VC, and cutting edge industries like clean energy and others.
c. The same type of student who wastes their time/money at HBS will do the same at Yale, Anderson/UCLA, Columbia, Wharton, etc. The type of student who makes the most of his experience at any of these places is likely to experience a better opportunity set at some than others (i.e., HBS over Yale).
d. However, just because one school is in fact better, it does not follow that if HBS will accept you, Yale will also. In fact, I've seen HBS be the only school (out of 4) accept people, while lesser institutions passed on the same candidate.
e. The admissions process can be subjective once a candidate satisfies the easy to recognize prerequisites (GMAT, quality undergrad institution, good resume, good GPA, not a train wreck in the interview, decent essays).
f. As a result, you never see a company solely target a particular B-school. They spread their efforts around because they recognize there is a general level of high quality throughout the top 20-30.
I thank my friend for sharing his thoughts, and look forward to the comments, dialogue and debate that will ensue.