Should You Accept That MBA Admissions Offer?


Why You Should Wait to Go to Business School?

Good things come to those who wait.

Maybe…but who has time for that?

You can enter law school or medical school after earning your bachelors degree. What makes business school so special? Why do you need four or more years of experience before adcoms will take you seriously?

On the surface, it seems like a fair question. You can toss a 22 year-old med student into Human Anatomy course without first practicing nursing. Why should adcoms evaluate prospective business students on career progression? Perhaps it’s because business schools lean so heavily on personal experience and teamwork over technical mastery in their curriculum. Sure, you can earn a PMI certification, but your booksmarts won’t benefit the class unless you can cite how you overcame scope creep and overruns in a real world setting.

Think of new grads enrolling in business school as the equivalent to underclassmen entering the pros. Sure, these athletes were dominant at the undergrad level. And a few will quickly transition to the big time. Generally, they’re immature and their game is full of holes. They are projects who haven’t absorbed the nuances of their profession. They may have high upside, but they also carry big risk. For every Magic Johnson and Adrian Peterson, they are far more Dontonio Wingfields and Blaine Gabberts. The same is true of undergrads looking to jump immediately into an MBA program.

And there are other reasons too according to Frederic Kerrest, a MBA from MIT Sloan who co-founded Okta, a cloud-based identity and mobility management platform. In a recent column on Mashable, Kerrest, who finished his MBA eight years after earning his BA, shared what he learned by waiting.

For starters, experience is paramount to Kerrest. “Most of us have to pay our dues in entry-level gigs,” he writes, “during which you’re not exposed to a whole lot of strategic decision making or different business functions.” This became a key differentiator in MBA classes at MIT, which heavily relied on student participation. “…my younger classmates were forced to draw from their limited background and perspective. I watched many of them shoot themselves in the proverbial foot simply because they hadn’t been exposed to enough real-world case studies — they relied on theory over practice.”

Kerrest also points out that many younger students are less attuned to what they want to do with the rest of their lives. In his case, helping to launch a company instilled a passion for entrepreneurship. The experience also showed him where he needed to focus in business school. “I knew I’d be able to augment my skill set with the requisite financial and entrepreneurial acumen, and connect with a new network of people that would help me along the way.”

By waiting, Kerrest was able to tailor an experience that fit with his long-range plans. “At 30 years old, I was on my own program. I knew what I wanted to do. I already had a network outside of MIT Sloan, and was easily able to establish a larger network there that I used to find opportunities relevant for me. That’s not the case when you’re 24 and two years out of college. It’s easy to take whatever’s offered to you without thinking about its long-term value.”

Kerrest also warns that younger students risk studying the wrong subject for the wrong reasons. “If you don’t have a reason or focus in mind before applying to school, you’ll likely fall into a certain program because it’s your school’s specialty — not necessarily because it’s right for you.” He adds that younger students tend to be more impressionable. “One of the biggest reasons I think people in their early or mid-20s should wait to go to business school is because they’ll be too easily influenced — to pick a focus…or to take a specific internship or job.”

Networking is another reason to hold off for a few years. By waiting to entering until his early thirties, Kerrest forged more substantive relationships with faculty and peers. “You’ll be able to engage with your professors in more meaningful ways,” he argues, “thoughtfully adding to classroom discussions and talking shop outside the lecture hall. And when you’re in your 30s with almost a decade of work experience, your professors will engage with you differently, too. You can build a working relationship based on shared experiences and insights — something entirely different than what you likely had with your undergraduate professors…I’m now good friends with many of my business school professors, and even count some of them as angel investors in my company.”

Last – but not least – Kerrest points out that finances will play a big part in how much you enjoy your MBA experience. By working, graduates can pay off undergraduate debts and beef up their savings to cover two years of lost wages. Not to mention, these reserves give students greater flexibility. “…you’ll likely have the opportunity to travel the world with your program — opportunities you’ll want to pursue. If you enroll carrying significant debt, you’ll miss out on those opportunities.”

Bottom line, in Kerrest’s view, you’ll maximize the value of your degree by not rushing the process. “If you work for 7-10 years before getting your MBA,” he concludes, “you’ll go in with worthwhile work experience, a network from those experiences, a plan for your future and likely a more comfortable financial situation and that will only lead to better opportunities and a brighter career path. Maybe you won’t be the life of the party…but you’ll be ready for what comes next.”


Source: Mashable

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