The Hidden Costs of an MBA Education
When you take out a school loan, you factor in tuition and living expenses. You probably even pad your two year projection to cover the unexpected (Funny how car problems start when you don’t have a job).
Some imagine business school as a two year party, where you toss cash in the air as you sing “Sweet Caroline” to the karaoke (“So good! So good! So good!”). The reality? Dining at Wendy’s is a treat. And every personal expense goes through the same rigorous examination as you’d find in a case study. As in business, you can’t anticipate every cost in business school. Too often, we miss potential expenditures that can set us back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
That’s the premise behind the latest U.S. News and World Report column from Stacy Blackman, an admissions consultant and author of The MBA Application Roadmap. And the costs often start accruing long before you’re accepted according to Blackman:
“The costs of researching schools, taking the GMAT and submitting your applications may seem obvious and easy to plan for. However, not so obvious costs of a great application include the price of visiting your target schools to strengthen your application, as well as traveling to events hosted by the schools’ admissions committees. If you use test prep services and admissions consultants, you could easily run up bills for several thousands of dollars before you even submit your applications.”
Once you arrive on campus, Blackman warns that miscellaneous expenses can pile up quickly. “If you join a handful of clubs, as nearly every MBA student does, note that dues run about $50 to $150 for each organization, and some club events may come with additional costs…There are also the expenses of once-in-a-lifetime retreats, trips and dues for your class, cohort or section, not to mention dinners and drinks with new friends.”
Sure, you need to spend money to eventually make money. But you need to know what to expect too. While schools provide a COA (Cost of Attendance) calculator, most only include general expenses. For example, Blackman notes that the costs of “international courses and projects and other immersive learning experiences” – which only a segment of the student population uses – likely won’t appear on the COA.
Even more, as Blackman points out, the COA only covers time on campus. In other words, expenses related to a summer internship, such as rent and travel expenses, wouldn’t be reflected on the COA. And let’s not forget a spruced up wardrobe for interviews too.
In other words, your loan (and savings) can dwindle pretty quickly in business school. So heed this warning from one Harvard Business School student: “I didn’t realize how much all of the club dues, trips and social events would add up. While they are technically optional, you don’t want to cut them out because they are part of the experience and they help build friendships.”
For additional advice, click on Blackman’s U.S. News column below.
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Source:U.S. News and World Report