Applying to Business School? Here Are Some Important Things to Consider
Choosing to apply to business school is a major decision, and not one to be taken lightly. Pursuing an MBA is a significant investment of time and money, so before you apply, you should think about not only how earning a graduate degree will benefit your career and personal growth, but also practical matters such as the program's cost and how well it aligns with your needs and your schedule.
If you think you're ready to return to school for an MBA, spend some time considering these important factors.
MBA programs are best suited to those individuals who have specific goals in mind, and who approach the degree as a step toward reaching those goals. You might be thinking that you want a "better job," but what does that really look like? Is it simply a bigger paycheck? Basing your business school decision solely on the potential for a higher level of compensation may not lead you down a fulfilling path in the long run, and it may cause you to miss out on some of the other benefits of business school.
Before you begin applying for business school, spend some time envisioning your life after earning your MBA in both the short and long term. Thinking hard about roles and responsibilities you would like to take on one, five or 10 years down the line can drive your decision not only to apply to an MBA program, but which program you would like to apply to as well. Most business schools are looking for driven, goal-oriented candidates, so being able to articulate what you hope to accomplish will help you stand out in the applicant pool.
Your Readiness for an MBA
Most experts recommend waiting to pursue your MBA until after you have a few years of work experience under your belt.1 While heading straight to graduate school after earning a bachelor's degree has the advantage of allowing you to maintain your "school mindset," getting a few years of experience can allow you to apply your real-world knowledge to your studies, transforming MBA course work from the solely theoretical to the practical. In addition, people with an MBA and some work experience tend to have an advantage in the job market over those who go right into business school.1
But it's not just work experience that matters. You need to think about whether you are ready for business school from a practical standpoint. Do you have the qualities that an MBA program is looking for? Have you taken the GMAT? Do you have strong contacts who can write you great recommendations? How polished is your resume? You don't necessarily have to have a business background per se, but you do need to be able to show that you have the skills and the professionalism to succeed in an MBA program.
Does the School Align With Your Needs?
Every MBA program is different, and each offers a unique approach to the study of business. Some programs are ideal for entrepreneurs, while others are better suited for those who wish to work in finance or the global marketplace. Because of this, you need to carefully evaluate potential programs with an eye toward how you would like to be positioned on the job market once your studies are complete.
This means carefully reviewing the curriculum and course descriptions, requirements for graduation and opportunities for additional learning. Read faculty bios so you know what areas of expertise are the program's real strengths, and if possible, reach out and talk with faculty members, Admissions Advisors and alumni to get a sense of the program and whether it's the right fit for you.
Your Level of Commitment
Earning an MBA requires commitment, as it will place significant demands on your time. Even if you choose a flexible program like KU's online MBA, you will still be spending at least 27 months taking courses. You need to have the time to read, participate in online discussions and complete assignments and activities in the online course system, which can require some exceptional time management skills.
Before you enroll in a program, then, honestly assess your lifestyle and existing schedule to determine how you will fit in your studies. Do you have the support you need from your employer and your family? Can you fit everything into the time you have available? What will have to change in your day-to-day routine? Starting to address questions like these now can prevent a great deal of stress later on.
Finally, you need to consider some of the practical matters of earning your MBA, including not only the feasibility of fitting a degree program into your existing demands, but also the cost of the degree and how you'll pay for it. There will likely be financial aid available, and your employer may be willing to help defray some of the costs, but you need to have a plan in place before you start applying to schools.
Considering these factors before starting an MBA can help ensure that you make the right decision and that your degree will get you on the path to meeting your goals. To learn more about whether the online MBA from the KU School of Business is the right program for you, contact an Admissions Advisor today.
1 Retrieved on May 9, 2018, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2017-04-17/consider-going-directly-from-college-to-an-mba-program