Interested in an MBA? Consider These Factors
You’re considering whether to pursue an MBA. Knowing the cost and commitment, you’re not going to take this decision lightly.
Before you commit, it’s important to weigh the benefits and costs that come with the degree.
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently spoke to some experts on whether an MBA is worth it and how prospective applicants can decide whether or not to commit to the degree.
VALUE VS. RETURN ON INVESTMENT
When it comes to the MBA, there’s significant return on investment.
A 2018 survey by the Financial Times finds that MBA grads nearly double their pre-MBA pay starting out.
Yet, experts say, ROI isn’t as one-dimensional as it may seem.
“…in order to decide whether it’s a wise decision to attend B-school, it is not sufficient to calculate the immediate financial payoff of an MBA degree, because the professional contacts you make during B-school could have a long-lasting influence on your career trajectory,” Kowarski writes.
Mike Catania, founder of the coupon website PromotionCode.org and a student in the executive MBA program at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, tells US News that his reason for pursuing an MBA was to expand his network.
“I got exactly what I wanted – access to brilliant classmates and faculty that I would never have encountered on my own,” he tells US News. “It’s difficult to ascribe a value to that, but I look at it as only temporarily intangible – the relationships forged over the next few years will positively affect my opportunities as an entrepreneur moving forward.”
WHEN IT COMES TO CAREER
Career is another consideration when it comes to an MBA. It’s important to evaluate how the degree will help you grow in your field and the opportunities it may bring.
“Often candidates have a career progression in mind – ask whether people who have followed that path have been helped by an MBA,” Mark W. Nelson, the dean of Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, tells US News. “Also, consider your personal opportunities for growth. What do you want to work on? Consider how an MBA would help you develop those capabilities.”
It may also be helpful to understand what kinds of skills you may pick up through the degree and how they may apply to a variety of industries.
“While MBA students often set their sights on a job in finance or consulting, the hard and soft skills acquired during an MBA program are transferable to myriad other roles,” Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, writes for US News. “Today, you’ll find an increasing number of MBAs working in tech, health care, consumer goods, government and nonprofits, and many other industries.”
The MBA isn’t to be taken lightly. While it can offer a number of benefits including increased ROI, value, and skill level, it takes time and dedication.
Experts say prospective applicants should gauge whether or not they are both professionally and emotionally ready to dedicate the time it takes.
“Chances are, if you’re thinking about getting an MBA, you are an analytically rigorous person who’s done the analysis on whether it makes sense to pay now for future gains in salary,” Phil Strazzulla, an HBS MBA, entrepreneur and founder of two companies in the software sector, tells US News. “And, if you go to a top school, it undoubtedly is. However, the other way I’d recommend thinking about your decision is how it’ll impact your overall happiness. For me, business school was easily two of the happiest years of my life. And in my opinion, that’s worth a lot! … It’s a whirlwind of stimulation and stretch experiences that will change you for the better.”