1. Why Do I want an MBA Degree?There are two common answers to this question: I want to progress in my career, or I enjoy the collegiate environment and want to learn more about business. Both are fine motivations, but you’ll take a different MBA path depending on which profile you fit. If an MBA is required or strongly preferred in your desired business sector, you’ll want to look at the most competitive, well respected programs. Some schools offer Executive Programs that allow full-time professionals to attend classes around their work schedules, or you may decide to leave the workforce and attend school full-time. We understand the latter isn’t an option for everyone, but it allows you more flexibility in applying to the best schools, regardless of location.
If an MBA is required or strongly preferred in your desired business sector, you’ll want to look at the most competitive, well-respected programs.If you’re interested in enrolling in an MBA program primarily for the educational experience, you can be less selective. Given the cost and time commitment of a master’s program, you may opt for a state or local college instead of a renowned program. You’ll enjoy the learning aspect without needing to worry about their on-campus recruiting program for opportunities post graduation, high tuition, or an extremely stringent selection process.
2. What is My Desired Career Trajectory?We often see people rush into MBA programs without knowing whether the degree is necessary to accomplish their professional goals. They’re disappointed when they return to their workforce and end up with essentially the same jobs they had before. To avoid this fate, research the standard career path in your field, and then decide the best course. Maybe you’re an accountant now, but you want to go into management consulting. Or perhaps you’re an analyst in an investment bank and would like to progress to Associate and then VP. There is no doubt that a top MBA will benefit you in some way, whether its the actual experience you gain, the credibility or distinction of the designation, or the contacts that you build, if you are in any profession in the business world. However, the prohibitive cost, as well as extremely competitive selection process, can make this a nonstarter for many people.
There is no doubt that a top MBA will benefit you in some way, whether it’s the actual experience you gain, the credibility or distinction of the designation, or the contacts you build.If you have the resources for the financial and time investment, as well as the experience and grades to land a spot in a top program, by all means, pursue this path. But don’t make this investment expecting that it will change your life or career, because it really depends upon the program you get into and, more importantly, what you want to do with this degree once you graduate.
3. Which Program Suits My Needs?Once you’ve decided that going back to school imperative to change your career trajectory, or break into a new space, identify the best program for your goals. Look only at the top twenty business schools in the country, preferably the top five or ten. The prestige of an MBA from Stanford, Harvard, or the University of Chicago is what distinguishes you from other candidates. You need a program that has a great on-campus recruitment program that will place you in your desired position. The most prestigious companies or firms that require an MBA will recruit out of the top tier schools only. A degree from a community college or second or third-tier school won’t hurt you, but it won’t position you for the kind of career you expect after graduating from an elite school. If companies do not come to your school to recruit graduates out of your program, you will find yourself navigating the job market on your own. In this scenario, the value of your MBA is not as high because potential employers are not seeking the exact education that you have. It will always be a nice feather in your cap, but if its not “sought after” by your preferred employers they will not value it, or you, as much, and your candidacy will be more reliant on your previous professional experience and skills, than the time and effort you put into your post graduate education.
An MBA program can transform your career – if you choose the right one for the right reasons.An MBA program can transform your career – if you choose the right one for the right reasons. Don’t assume that going back to school is a given; understand why you want an MBA and how you expect to benefit. Then gain the necessary experience and credentials to land in a top program. And if you’re simply interested in learning more about business and getting back in the academic setting, that’s fine, too. Get clear on your motivations, and make your MBA options work for you.
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