September 2000 - In some ways, selecting a law school or business graduate program is more difficult than deciding where to study toward a bachelor's degree. Unlike their pre-undergraduate counterparts, prospective law and business students must consider immediate career goals. And while cost is an issue when selecting a four-year college or university, it's often more so when deciding where to earn a law degree or MBA, particularly for students who already have school-loan debt.
Hispanics typically have additional concerns, such as minority recruitment and retention – among both faculty and students – and support services such as student associations and mentoring programs. Accordingly, HISPANIC BUSINESS took these considerations into account, in addition to traditional criteria such as academic and faculty stature, when compiling this year's directories of the Top 10 Business Schools and Top 10 Law Schools.
As with all such lists, the resulting directories should not be viewed as the final word on the subject. Deciding on a law or business school is, in the end, a personal decision. As such, experts urge prospective students to consult a variety of resources. The American Bar Association, for instance, downplays the significance of rankings when evaluating law programs, precisely because they fail to take personal circumstances into account.
Aside from magazine rankings, there are general guidelines that apply to most, if not all, prospective law and business students. In the case of MBA programs in particular, the first distinction to be made is between full-time and part-time students, according to Roxanne Del Rio, director of admissions at the University of Dallas Graduate School of Management.
Because they typically work full-time and have tight schedules, part-time students should consider prospective graduate programs in relation to where they work and live, advises Ms. Del Rio. For the same reason, part-time students should seek out program flexibility – whether courses are offered in the evenings, on weekends, and online; whether professors are supportive in the event classes are missed on account of work or family obligations; and whether students can return – and get the courses they need – if an entire semester has to be missed because of other commitments.
Full-time students, on the other hand, would do better to consider factors like professional internship opportunities, career placement services, and alumni associations that provide networking and mentoring opportunities, according to Ms. Del Rio.
Part-time and full-time students alike should make certain that the grad program they choose has been regionally accredited, or, in the case of a foreign college or university, accredited by the ministry of education in the host country.
Given the expense of most programs, financial aid is another important consideration, regardless of one's status as a part- or full-time student. The National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) is uncommon in that it offers scholarships to both part- and full-time business students. More information is available on the group's Web site, www.nshmba.org.
NSHMBA Executive Director John Honaman says a number of top-flight MBA programs offer full scholarships, many specific to Hispanics and other minorities. Of course, many are contingent on Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) scores and academic performance.
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