As mentioned, this guide is intended to help you get into the best business school that you can. That being said, there is an important question that needs to be answered: do you want to attend business school? I, personally, was unsure if I wanted to attend. I had a lot of different ideas bouncing around, ranging from pursuing an MS in statistics or industrial and organizational psychology to just accepting a nice job offer that I had lined up for post-graduation. I spent a lot of time on the internet researching the benefits of earning an MBA, and have compiled a list of what I think to be the most important reasons to earn an MBA:
- Career Advancement
- This one is obvious. An MBA opens up jobs that you simply cannot get with only an undergraduate degree. You can easily observe the veracity of this just by noting how many internship programs (usually the best ones) accept only MBA applicants.
- In their 2013 Alumni Perspectives Survey, the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC) reported that the median annual salary for MBA holders was $100,000. If the debt that you’ll most likely face by earning your MBA scares you, you’ll be happy to know that this same survey reported that most MBA candidates surveyed were completely debt free within four years.
- It is a goal of many people to start their own business doing what they’re good at or what they love. Without a knowledge of business (strategy, finances, legalities, hiring practices, marketing, etc.), it is unlikely that such a business could ever be successfully realized. An MBA education gives you this knowledge.
- Between the brilliant students you’ll work with and meet and the alumni database that you’ll have access to, you’ll always have someone who works in an industry you’re looking to get into or “knows someone who knows someone” who can help. As they say, it’s not what you know…
- Resources to learn, including:
- Distinguished faculty knowledge and mentorship
- Talks/conferences on global issues
- Executive speeches
- Case competitions to gain pertinent skills
- Opportunities to conduct advanced research in your desired field
- On-campus recruiting from companies looking to hire the best and brightest
Clearly, there isn’t a lack of reasons for getting your MBA. Another thing to think about is your interests might change over the years. Throughout college, I have been interested in stats, psych, social activism, politics, sports, tech, museology, physics, astronomy etc. The thing is, had I pigeonholed myself into one of these fields (say, astronomy), I would be essentially stuck working in that field. The difference with a business degree is that everything is a business, and so my skills can apply to whatever I’m interested in at the time. If I’m interested in politics, I can consult for the government. If my inner astronomer is present, I can do business for NASA. If I’m really into sports or tech, I can go work for Nike or Google, respectively. Since the skill set learned in an MBA program is so applicable, earning an MBA allows me to work for whatever company I feel passionately about and want to stand behind.
I’m going into business school right out of undergrad, which isn’t too common amongst the top MBA programs. Only a few programs (Stanford GSB deferred admission, Harvard 2+2, Yale Silver Scholars) specifically seek out early career candidates, as many programs state that they prefer work experience first, and that an applicant would be better served by the program if they work first. While having some work experience is definitely a plus, I want to make a case for younger applicants, people with two, one, or even zero years of full-time work experience (like me). Many young applicants can thrive in business school, and many programs can benefit from having younger students in their cohorts…here’s why:
- New perspectives
- When everyone in your MBA program is around the same age, the groups they form exhibit certain generational mindsets (even if ever so slight). When you bring in someone four or five years younger, they are sure to add a new perspective to an issue or discussion and think outside the box that working in industry can create.
- Learn from people who’ve done it
- One great benefit about entering into an MBA program young is that nearly all of your classmates have been in industry longer than you have. This means that you can learn a lot from them, especially the peers in your desired industry. Needless to say, they are also terrific connections to have post-graduation.
- Stability before a family
- If you get your MBA before you have a partner and a family, you can save yourself the trouble of uprooting him/her/them and living somewhere completely new for 2 years before doing it again. Not to mention the fact that if you get your MBA before you have a family, you will be more financially stable and prepared to deal with the expenses that go along with starting a family.
- You’re in “learning mode”
- Many people who come back after maybe five years in industry cite the academic process (learning, studying, memorizing, doing homework, etc.) as one of their main challenges. It is just more difficult for them to get back into the swing of things. If you enter a program young, you will still be in “learning mode,” and thus better suited to succeed academically.
- Compound earning x2
- Compound interest is a concept that you will certainly hear about in business school if you haven’t already. The same principle that surrounds compound interest also surrounds compound education and compound earning. The sooner you have a solid education base and skill set, the sooner you can build upon that, and then build upon that, ad infinitum. Similarly, the sooner you have a higher salary or excess earnings to invest, the sooner you can build upon them and grow them exponentially.
Clearly, I am biased, but that doesn’t negate the validity of the above. If you want an unparalleled combination of a develop skill set, established network, earning potential, and freedom to delve into any industry/sector you choose, then you should really consider earning your MBA. There are obvious pros and cons to earning the degree earlier in your career vs. not, but I side fully with the early career camp.