As I prepare to face my year at INSEAD, I’m reflecting on the journey that led to this very moment: starting from the decision of applying to an MBA, to the whole application process and ultimately the decision of going to INSEAD.
I applied to five business schools, and got accepted to two. I had exactly ten days to decide between the two schools, and confess those were not the easiest days in my life.
“You should choose the school with which you have the best fit”, some will say. This largely simplifies a much more complex question. If I didn’t have the ‘fit’ (a rather vague concept), I wouldn’t have applied to any of the five schools in first place. Going through the steps of an MBA application is so burdensome and stressful, that you will not want to do it if there’s any chance of you NOT going to a certain school if you’re accepted.
Therefore, I felt I had the ‘fit’ for both schools and needed to make an objective decision. The factors that are important to each person will LARGELY vary, but I hope that by sharing the main factors that helped me choose INSEAD, I will help other prospective students to also do so in a conscious way:
1 – Fontainebleau is in Europe and near Paris
While INSEAD’s campus is in the charming town of Fontainebleau in France, it is only a 40-minute train ride away from Paris. Besides that, the program offers the possibility of spending some time at INSEAD’s other campi (Singapore or Abu Dhabi).
The other school was in the US, in a mid-sized city that was not so close to any other big city in the country.
2 – One-year program would get me back to the job market faster
While the one-year program does not offer you the possibility of a summer internship (for the July intake), the second year of an MBA increases the cost of your experience significantly, if you add the cost itself to the opportunity cost of not working.
I thought that going to INSEAD would offer me a wonderful experience of a top-notch MBA program, as well as the benefit of going back to the job market very fast.
3 – Greater student diversity and contact with many cultures
INSEAD is undoubtedly one of the most international MBAs in the world. As I had never lived outside Brazil before, I wanted to be in touch with as many diverse people as possible, which would maximize my learning and networking opportunities.
Most schools in the US are composed by 50%-70% of American students, which turn the program mostly US-centric.
4 – Opportunities and life with partner
Since I am going to live with my partner at INSEAD, she was naturally a part of the decision too. As she has an Italian citizenship, being in the EU zone makes it easier for her to do whatever she prefers, from studying to working.
In the US, on the other hand, she would have had the benefit that she already speaks English, and not French, but her life choices would be limited due to the unavailability of a working visa.
5 – Rankings
Let’s not pretend we do not look at them. We all do. Being twice in the #1 place in the Financial Times MBA ranking helps INSEAD’s case. The other school was not as competitive in this regard.
Although I only had a few days to choose between both schools, I had been thinking about the offer acceptance decision a long time ago. I already had in my mind my own B-school ranking composed by the schools I applied to, hence making the decision easier in case I had more than one offer.
Choosing one MBA school over another is not something you will want to decide overnight, so my suggestion is that, as soon as you press the SUBMIT button in your last application, you ask yourself the question:
“What is my personal B-School ranking?”
I hope that my blog posts will help you put INSEAD as your #1 choice 😊.