When you’re thinking about juggling work, family, and school commitments—as many prospective part-time MBA students are—finding an MBA program with the right fit may not only be important, it’s likely critical. But with so many competing programs, how do you choose?
One key step that influenced the decision of many Berkeley-Haas students was experiencing the classroom firsthand. Mayank Kaul, a senior engineer in system design and strategy at T-Mobile and now part of the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program, first visited business school classes closer to his home in Seattle before making an MBA class visit at Haas by sitting in on an entrepreneurship course.
“The difference was phenomenal,” says Mayank. “At Berkeley, there was much more class participation. While the professor’s perspective was insightful, he also let the class flow—students were engaged and expressing different opinions and viewpoints.”
“Everyone acknowledged it’s not easy to commute, but then said the professors and classmates make the trip totally worth it.
Mayank was also impressed with the caliber of the students in the Evening & Weekend MBA program, which included current and former entrepreneurs, and many others with rich, varied backgrounds. “At Haas you have a hugely diverse mix of students. There are people in healthcare, investment banking, technology, non-profits, architecture, and medicine. I really saw the drive and energy of everyone in class and that decided it for me.”
Elizabeth Lowry, EMBA student and senior director of business development at Isolation Network, Inc., had a similar experience when she visited a Corporate Strategy class before joining the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.
“The class was really engaged and the conversation was certainly at an executive level,” says Elizabeth. “The students in class were bringing their current work experience into the conversation or drawing parallels between that experience and the class case studies.”
“I felt like I got a full understanding of what it would be like to attend Haas and be part of the cohort.
Another advantage built into class visits is the opportunity to speak directly with executive MBA and part-time MBA students currently in your program of interest—something the admissions office at Berkeley-Haas goes out of its way to facilitate.
Mayank connected with other students who were commuting. “Taking a flight to the Bay Area every weekend is a big commitment, so I wanted to make sure I spoke to students not only to gain an understanding of the program, but also to ask about traveling to campus. Everyone acknowledged it’s not easy to commute, but then said the professors and classmates make the trip totally worth it.”
When Elizabeth arrived for her visit, she was introduced to a woman in the EMBA program who answered many of her questions over lunch, and then introduced her to classmates.
“I felt like I got a full understanding of what it would be like to attend Haas and be part of the cohort,” Elizabeth says. “Part of the whole experience is the community you are building around you.”
Ultimately, the best part of her visit was the comfort level she achieved with the program. “As I was sitting in class I realized I could see myself sitting in these seats in a few months. I was comfortable with the material being discussed and I felt as though these students were certainly my peers. It validated that the Berkeley Executive MBA was the right program for me.”