Virtually any graduate program that one applies to is going to spout off some verbiage about looking for the "perfect fit". That's great. Everyone wants to feel loved, wanted, and like they are part of something larger, but what does it actually mean? To be honest, when talking about and determining fit, the onus is and must be placed on the candidate. Most programs know what they are looking for and who will succeed within their programs. However, if the prospective student doesn't really know themselves and what they need to succeed, the question of fit can never be answered. In my last blog, I talked about how one needs to be honest with themselves and do some serious self-reflection before submitting their application to the Carlson School. When discussing whether you would be a good fit (for Carlson, or any other program) this is even more paramount.
Here are the main questions I think need to be addressed when determining fit:
1. In what type of environment do you learn best?
The major "types" of learning environments that you will encounter in the top B-Schools are: lecture, case studies, readings, and experiential learning. In most cases, you will get a smattering of all of these, but some certainly focus on one. At Carlson, we pride ourselves on our experiential learning. We have been doing it since the 1960's (long before it become in vogue) and we have perfected it. The best example of our experiential learning can be found in our Full-Time Enterprise Programs. The Carlson School Enterprise program puts MBA students into student-managed teams to address the real-world challenges of client businesses that expect real-world results. It's an in-depth professional and transformational experience that few business schools offer. Over and over again our Full-Time students comment on how the Enterprise Programs were the highlight of their learning at Carlson.
2.In what type of culture do you thrive?
Do you need a cut-throat environment to really motivate you or do you prefer a more collaborative culture? Be honest with yourself, this is a much more difficult question to answer than it appears. Carlson is going to be a much more collaborative culture than a lot of other business schools. We take the motto "Minnesota Nice" to heart.
3. In what size of class will you be most comfortable?
Do you want to know everyone in your class or would you rather get lost in the crowd? With only about 110 Full-Time students in our program, you will meet everyone in your class and have ample opportunity to get to know them.
This is just a start. I really encourage you to sit down and think about what makes you tick. What environment do you need to succeed? From there, start looking at different schools to see where you can get that. Best of luck!