How To Categorize Your Business School List


Deciding which business schools to apply to is more of an art than a science; that is why it is imperative that you research the MBA programs to determine which ones will help you attain your goals and are the right fit.

However, as you think about your school list, it is important to apply to a range of schools so that you maximize your chances of admission. How should you think about that range of schools? The best way is by grouping them into buckets that reflect the likelihood of acceptance: Stretch/Reach, Target, and Safety. The schools that fall into each of these buckets will vary according to a candidate's profile.

Stretch/Reach schools

These are the schools that will be the toughest for you to gain admittance. For example, Harvard Business School and Stanford will always fall into this bucket (yes, even if you have a very competitive profile)! In general, if a school's median/average GPA and GMAT/GRE scores are higher than yours, then I would consider those schools to be stretch/reach. However, the reality is that we never know what the entire pool of candidates looks like, so you should apply to 1-2 dream schools (because you just never know)! However, this should be balanced with target and safety schools, which should comprise a majority of the schools on your list.

Target schools

Most of the schools on your list should be target schools, i.e. schools where you should be competitive. A helpful rule of thumb to use is that if a school’s median/average GPA and GMAT/GRE scores are in line with yours, then it should fall on your target school list. There may be quite a few schools that could potentially be considered target schools, so do your research to determine the ones that would be the best fit for you and your goals.

Safety schools

While it is impossible to be assured admission to any school, your safety schools will be the ones where your scores are above the school’s median/average GPA and GMAT/GRE scores. As a result, these are the schools where you will be very competitive. Given the competitive nature of the business school application process, I recommend applying to 1-2 safety schools.

At Ivy Groupe, a key part of our process is helping our clients with school selection using the rubric described above. If you need help determining which schools to apply to and which schools would be considered stretch/reach, target, and safety, please see how you can work with us!

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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.

Click on the links to learn more about our company and how you can work with us to maximize your chances of gaining admission to the MBA programs of your choice.

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