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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

August 01, 2007

No back-up schools please!

In general, I don’t believe in the concept of back-up graduate schools. A back-up school (or safety school) is where you go when you have no alternative. For me, a back-up is like a spare tire or the flashlight you keep in your house if the electricity stops working. That is to say, a back-up is a substitute for a school you wanted to go to. Unless you must get into school, you should not apply to schools that you will not be happy with. The time and money involved for an MBA, not mention a PhD, is simply too great to spend on something that you really don’t want.

Only apply to schools you want to attend. That school may or may not be your first choice, but should be a school that will provide you with the educational experience, skills, connections, and/or ROI you want to obtain.

However, sometimes it takes a couple of years to get what you want. Getting the right advice from counselors, books, friends, mentors, and/or teachers combined with sufficient effort on your part can speed this up considerably. However, some people simply require longer because of work or family commitments, the necessity to obtain prerequisite knowledge in their field, the need to improve English skills, and/or, of course, standardized tests. For instance, the TOEFL iBT’s speaking section may very result in a longer period of preparation for those with very weak speaking skills. Those with weak math skills may find the GMAT or GRE a serious challenge that will require relearning math that they may not have studied for a decade or more. If you need that time, take it. Leave the back-up schools to those who are too lazy to work for what they want, prefer a quick-fix to a real solution, prefer safety to risk, and were born to compromise. Life is simply too short to settle for a spare tire or a flashlight.
-Adam Markus
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