The decision to pursue an MBA at a reputable business school, like the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Rollins College of Business, can help you launch your career and achieve your goals. As you begin to evaluate your different graduate school options, you will quickly discover that different schools also have their own cultures that can impact how students interact and learn as well as the type of leaders they become.
As you consider where to pursue your education, you’ll want to take student culture into account. Consider how it will influence you throughout your studies and even the rest of your career. Here are a few ways that the culture matters at the business school you select.
1. Your classmates will comprise a large portion of your network
Earning your MBA is a tremendous accomplishment. It can open a variety of doors for you as you begin to move up in the business world. One of the most valuable advantages you will gain during your degree program, however, is your network. The ability to connect with professionals in business and create a network that will help you learn and find positions will play an important role in your career trajectory.
The culture of the school you select will impact the network you build. The professors and fellow students you meet at school will often reflect the culture of that school. As you attend alumni events and meet successful people who went through your program, you will find they also reflect the school culture.
Therefore, you want to make sure the school you select is grounded in a culture that produces a network of professionals you can appreciate and value.
2. The school culture will impact the students attracted to the school
The same way you carefully evaluate your MBA school options, so, too, are the other students preparing to enter their degree programs. The school culture that a particular school nurtures will impact the type of student attracted to the school. If you want to find a program where you will feel comfortable, welcomed, and able to easily fit in with the wider culture, then you want to find a program that aligns with your core values.
3. You want to find a good fit for your learning style
The culture nurtured by a particular school will also greatly influence the learning style you encounter. Certain schools nurture a high-competition, rigorous curriculum. These schools encourage students to regularly outperform in a business competitive environment individually.
On the other hand, other schools place a greater emphasis on collaboration and teamwork to simulate a work place and with the hope that students learn how to work together to solve problems and jointly master their curriculum. These curriculums can also have a high amount of rigor, but they generally fit a different personality type.
As you evaluate your school choices, you will want to consider which type of environment fits you best. Do you want a program that focuses on competition and racing to the top or one that places a greater emphasis on teamwork?
Each type of program has its own benefits, and each is suited for different learning styles and what a particular student might find motivating and invigorating versus frustrating or demoralizing. As you look at your school options, carefully consider your own learning style and what inspires you in school so that you can make a better decision.
4. The school culture will influence parts of your personal work style
Remember, as you go through the school program, the culture in that school will influence you. Throughout your MBA, you learn skills related to leadership, problem-solving, and business management. The culture in which you learn these skills, therefore, will greatly impact how you end up employing these skills in your job.
We suggest taking some time to consider the type of leader and team player you want to be over the course of your career. Think about the leaders that you have admired most and note the traits you want to emulate. Consider how the school culture you immerse yourself in will influence the development of these skills in you.
5. You want a culture that will help you thrive
Earning an MBA will be one of the most important steps you take in your education and your professional career. You know that this degree will help you learn valuable skills. However, as you pursue your business school degree, you likely have other competing obligations you need to attend to. Maybe you have a job, and you need to balance your studies with your workload. Maybe you’re able to take time away, a sabbatical from the working world where you can dedicate time and energy to the degree. Whatever the case is for you, you want a school culture that understands and nurtures students in your precise situation.
A school that favors students who meet in person may not be as good a cultural fit as one that offers online or hybrid classes specifically for working adults, for example. Simply knowing what a school is willing and able to do to meet the needs of different student types will help you better understand if one school or another offers a better culture for your needs.
6. It will impact the type of educational opportunities you have access to
While schools generally strive to host seminars and speakers that represent a range of viewpoints within business thought, there is no doubt that the school culture will influence the types of speakers sought and the variety of companies they represent.
Want to know more about the culture of a business school you’re considering? Do a quick news search for the guest lecturers they’ve invited to present over the past few years.
7. It will impact your emotional well-being at school
Finding the right school culture will also help you feel ‘at home’ while attending a program. You will feel more successful with a school aligned to your learning style, that supports your efforts to be a business leader and meets your learning needs.
Finding the right school culture
Now that you understand the different ways that the school culture can impact you, your learning environment, and even your future career, what will it take to evaluate different school cultures? Start by:
- Researching the school. Check the website. What do they emphasize about their program? The answer can provide valuable clues about what where their priorities lie
- Speaking with alumni. Connecting with current students or alumni can help you learn about their school experience. It also gives you an opportunity to gauge their personal business styles—styles that likely were developed, in part, at the school
- Attending school-sponsored events. You can also attend seminars, networking events, or lectures open to the public at the school to obtain a better feel of the culture cultivated by teachers and students
As you prepare to pursue your MBA, you’ll want a school that offers a culture in synch to your unique educational needs and your career path. The culture will influence your learning experience in numerous ways, so carefully consider the discussion points above to make the best possible decision for your school selection.
If you are ready to start working on your MBA, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is here to help. With a rigorous curriculum and professors dedicated to helping you succeed in class and in your career, you will quickly see what makes our program an excellent fit for students who want to excel. Contact us to learn more.