People LOVE asking that question. I have said the answer so many times, that I think I have it down to a science. Generally, I smile and reply that the ROI is not there for a part-time… however I recently go into a “heated” discussion with an associate about the topic. This caused a lot of introspection on my end, and ultimately, I admitted that (for me) it isn’t just about ROI. There are a lot of factors. Why People Get a Part-Time MBA:
- Their company will pay for it AND they want to stay in the same company
- You know your company will view getting an MBA as an accomplishment and addition to your skills/resume (and will compensate accordingly)
- You are okay with working 40+ hours a week and going to school/studying for 10 hours a week.
- You have a decent program (not a diploma mill) in your immediate area
Why People Get a Full-Time MBA:
- Change careers/industries and/or become an entrepreneur
- They don’t have a mortgage/crazy school loans and can afford studying for two years without income
- They want to create a meaningful network outside of their current one
The [not-so] hidden risks of a part-time MBA
I have seen it time and time again. An employee will spend 3 years of their life in a work/school hell working their butts off and finally graduate. After the party is over, they look at their paycheck. NO CHANGE. And really, why should there be? By paying for their employee’s diploma, a company knows that the employee MUST work for them for a set period of time. Is that company really incentivized to give them a raise or any other compensation?
Now of course, that is not everywhere. However, it DOES happen, and it is pretty demoralizing. Of course the employee can work for a few years to keep developing their resume and then get a promotion, but could they have made it to that point without an MBA?
Another risk is the unflexible schedule. Because a part-time MBA/work schedule does not allow that much flexibility, I’ve seen peers miss work opportunities. Fewer chances for those all-to-often important special projects that transform careers. Again, this is not a universal rule, rather it is simply a risk that a part-time MBA has to accept.
Why I want the full-time MBA experience
There are fewer and fewer risks on getting a full-time MBA at a top program (as long as you have the financial capability to do so). Employment from the top programs is VERY high, and often times the salary averages are above $100K (allowing students to pay back those massive loans). However, I personally think a lot of full-time MBA value doesn’t come in the form of a paycheck.
The full-time program is an INTENSE new experience that puts a lot of Type-A personalities in a small space. In this environment, individuals bond and relationships are born. Relationships that will last a lifetime. This is common thread that I’ve heard in all my conversations with alumni. A lot of my success is due to my interaction with others; I am hoping to continue the trend…just in a bigger playground.
“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Going to a full-time program brings people from all over the world to talk about issues bigger than your particular industry or even country. This allows you to gain perspective of how little you may know of various issues/industries around the world. As we move to a more global economy this is critical. Gaining knowledge from a person with first-hand experience is a huge advantage.
Finally, the amount of knowledge at these schools is AMAZING. Professors will challenge your ideas and experiences, as well pivot the way you think about situations. The world of business is constantly changing, and many professors are also consultants and/or researchers as well, allowing them to give real first-hand knowledge of the various challenges that different businesses are facing.
Is a top MBA outside of my reach?
Even though I have decided that a top full-time program is right for me, I still have to get into one. There are a lot of challenges. Graduating from a one of the poorest school districts in California, I was able to go to a state college on a full-ride (definitely not an Ivy League school). I am very happy to have a great career at a F500, but it’s not Goldman, Google, or McKinsey. However, many adcom have told me schools are increasingly less interested in “pedigree” and more interested in “momentum.” The question is now, can I articulate my momentum and my plan?
GrantMeAdmission is a young corporate (Fortune 50) finance guy for a Fortune 50 company who blogs at GrantMeAdmission! A graduate of a leadership rotation program, he’s dreamed of going to a top MBA program and has structured his life to support that journey (making plenty of mistakes along the way). After graduating from a college in California and working for two years, he found transferred to the East Coast so he could visit schools and complete his research. He applied to one school (Tuck at Dartmouth College) and was wait listed for five agonizing months. The process totally caught him off guard, leaving him dazed and confused.
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