People go to Business School for a variety of reasons – from making a career change, advancing to management positions, meeting potential co-founders and investors, to just expanding their network and outlook. The truth is, no matter how amazing a school is, Business School will not hold the same value for everyone. So, before you start the application process, take a moment to make sure there is real value in it for you, and you’re not just going because you see others doing the same.
The value of the MBA to you will depend greatly on what your post-MBA goal is and how useful the MBA will be in helping you achieve it.
- For instance, the MBA can be very helpful with switching careers. People considering breaking into industries such as Investment Banking, Private Equity, Venture Capital or Consulting etc, without an existing background/experience would have much better luck trying to do so with a top MBA in the bag. In fact, most of the major companies in those industries target top MBA programs as a key source of talent for their workforce.
- Other companies/industries may outrightly require staff to have MBAs before they can advance to a certain level. So if you’re working in a company with such policies, then you would definitely need to go to business school to avoid becoming stagnant in your career.
- Going to top programs can give you access to a quality network – either as a professional or a business person. A lot of people are able to access certain business deals or positions by leveraging their alumni network as well as their classmates. Since I got into school, I have certainly been able to interact with several people I may otherwise not have had access to, so this one is a major value point for me.
- Most of the top Business Schools also have great resources for entrepreneurs. There are many students who attend business school in the hopes of transitioning from corporate employment to entrepreneurship. During their MBA, they may partake in venture competitions hosted by the school, where they can win funding for their business. Some schools also have venture labs and other resources dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs work through their business ideas.
Now that you’re hopefully thinking about what the MBA can do for you, let’s talk about what it would cost you.
I like to think about the cost of business school in 2 ways:
1. The upfront cost
These are the obvious costs: your tuition fee and the additional living expenses you would need to incur while studying; and
2. The opportunity cost
as the economists among us would say, this includes all the benefits you forgo while attending business school. Here, you consider the income and work experience you would miss out on for the 1 – 2 years you would spend in business school.
If you’re hoping to use the MBA as an avenue to advance professionally, then you need to evaluate the potential benefits against the costs before you commit to investing 2 years of your life and a significant sum of money. Talk to the people already in the position you desire and get a sense of whether an MBA really moves the needle in terms of getting you there faster and easier. Some industries value MBAs more than others so that’s something to keep in mind as you decide.
If one of your goals is to increase your earnings, then you need to estimate what your post-MBA earnings would be and compare it with what your earnings would be without the MBA. The increase in earnings should be enough (over a reasonable time frame) to justify the upfront cost and lost income of the MBA program.
Some schools publish the median or mean salaries of their graduates on their websites, so that can be a good place to start. However, as that information is highly summarized, I would advise that you do further research into what the average remuneration is for the specific roles you seek. People who work or have worked in similar roles can give you a good idea of what to expect.
Try to be 100% honest with yourself in thinking through this. You’ll struggle to convince the Admissions Committee about your desire to go to business school if you haven’t convinced yourself.
Got questions, contributions or feedback? Let me know in the comments, message me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.