Most people at some point in their careers will consider going back to school to get another degree and of late most people are thinking about going to business school. There have been lots of articles written about the value of an MBA. Some of the more interesting ones I have read recently are here, here, here and here. The one thing that is clear from most of the literature and statistics is that an MBA is not worth as much as it used to be.
One reality of MBA programs is that what you will get out of it is what you want to get out of it. If you want to take two years off from work and have a relaxing time reliving your college days, you can easily do that in business school. If you want to learn about the intricacies of “Footnote Accounting” (a real class offered at my school), strategy, corporate law, or start your own business, you can do that as well. There are vast amounts of resources and guidance at your disposal during the two years and many students take full advantage of these, while there are many other students that use the time to develop relationships, find spouses and plan out their next career move. The choice is yours.
The best part of business school is the people you meet, both professors and students. Everyone has a very unique background that brings interesting perspective to a discussion. I’ve met students that are engineers, investment bankers, writers and entrepreneurs, as well as professors that advise world leaders and have the ability to incorporate the latest world news into the classroom lectures. Everyone talks about the network you build in b-school – which is important – but there is also a more immediate benefit of meeting such a large and diverse set of backgrounds; an expanded worldview.
Finally, an MBA program is a great opportunity to realign your career with your preferences. Most people decided on their college major when they were 16 or 17 years old. By the time you are in your mid to late twenties with some work experience under your belt, you might have a better idea of what you do or don't like doing, what skills you are good at, what things you need to improve on, and possibly areas that you always wanted to learn but never had the opportunity. You might not know exactly what your ideal career will be after business school but you will have the opportunity to explore and better align your interests and your daily work life.
When making an investment decision of this magnitude you should first weigh the numbers. What will leaving the workforce for two years, paying tuition, and taking on debt cost me? What do I expect to be making after the MBA and does this line up with what graduates from my prospective school earn? If after all this investigation and analysis you end up on the fence, I would say consider some of these softer benefits and how important they are to you. For me, it made a world of difference. I’ve always wanted to study Economics – but didn’t take the opportunity during my college years. It so worked out that I was able to get my MBA at a school with one of the foremost Economics programs. This wasn’t the only reason I went to b-school (far from it) but it really was the cherry on top.