How do you “fit”? Whether it is about you liking a school or a school liking you (to the point that they accept you), the question of fit is one that should always be top-of-mind for any applicant. Do you like a school’s teaching style? The focus of the curriculum? The location? Are these your people?
For most, creating the list of “reaches” that meet your “fit” criteria is easy. What is frequently more difficult is generating that list of “target,” and “likely” schools that give you that same warm, fuzzy feeling when you visit.
To help you find these schools, here are some examples of “doppelgänger” MBA programs; two programs that are alike in so many ways with the exception of one being easier to get into than the other.
HBS and UVA.
If you believe that the case method style of teaching is right for you, then consider UVA Darden which is the only other school than HBS that uses the case method exclusively. Also, it works if your uniform of choice is khakis and oxfords.
Stanford and UW Foster.
Looking for a west coast school with great ties to the tech industry and a long history of entrepreneurship? While Stanford is the obvious choice, UW Foster in Seattle is a natural. With ties to Amazon, Microsoft and dozens of startups, UW has the same Silicon Valley buzz with less traffic and lower cost of living.
Wharton and Cornell.
Two great Ivy League schools with strong banking and marketing programs. At both schools, future portfolio managers can help run a student investment fund racking up real returns and industry connections. The big choice between these two schools is, do you want gritty Philadelphia or bucolic Ithaca? Pick ‘em.
MIT Sloan and CMU Tepper.
Ready to geek out in a great city at a school that produces more startups than almost anyone else, make it Sloan or Tepper. With the addition of Amazon, Google, Uber, Apple and Facebook, Pittsburgh is starting to feel a heck of a lot like Cambridge…only with better food and shorter lines.
Yale SOM and Georgetown McDonough.
Two business schools that historically have had a wider purview than just business. Yale has a long history in non-profit management, while the location of Georgetown in Washington, DC naturally brings a public policy and international component to it. They even look alike in their Gothic architecture.
Kellogg and Wisconsin.
When it comes to marketing these two big Midwest schools are the kings. A couple of dirty little secrets: Wisconsin sends twice as many graduate into consumer products than Kellogg, and Kellogg isn’t in Chicago, it’s really in Evanston – not quite the little college town that Madison is.
And by no means is this the end of this game of twins or even triplets. Duke, Olin and Owen for health care; CBS and NYU for finance; UCLA and NYU for media; Tuck and Minnesota Carlson for being happy, far away, and cold.
So, as you make your school list that ideally includes some reaches, targets, and likelies, try to get a handle on why you like each. Then you may just make it into one of your perfect schools, or maybe its twin.