The question of whether you should attend business school depends on you. It is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer because it will affect you differently based on your personal background. Business school is just a training ground for graduate students to study business and gain skills and knowledge that will either help them advance in their current positions or help them start their own businesses. It is just like attending any other type of graduate school and there is obviously no guarantee of whether or not you will actually be able to get a job once you have graduated.
How Do I Apply to Business School?
You will likely need to have 1 year or 6 months at the most to prepare yourself to apply to business school. Most business schools require that all applicants have a bachelor’s degree in any subject area, a college transcript, a GMAT test score, two recommendations, an application essay, and a completed application form. The admissions cycle for business schools usually begins in the fall semester around August or September and all of the application materials must be submitted around December or January. It will likely take you a while to compile all of the materials so it is recommended that you get started working on them as soon as you realize that you want to go to business school.
On average, the business schools will expect that you have at least a 3.0 GPA, a strong work background, excellent recommendations, and a decent GMAT test score in the 600-800 ranged. The more selective business schools have a more rigorous application process and it is likely that may you need to have a back up plan in case you do not get in.
How Do I Pay for Business School?
Business school is definitely not a prerequisite for having a career in the corporate world, so it will be largely your responsibility to pay for it. Most business schools around the country cost upwards of $30,000-$60,000 per year and that may not even include all of your other personal expenses. There are some opportunities to receive scholarships, grants, and financial aid, but there is very limited funding for these programs and chances are that the money you will receive will not be enough to cover all of your costs. These programs are very competitive and they tend to give money to the top candidates only. Some employers provide tuition reimbursement programs that will pay for a certain percentage of the tuition, but that is something that you must discuss with your employer. The only other way to pay for business school is to take out student loans. Student loans are not offered as freely as they were in the past, but they are still available and you must be very careful about how much you borrow.
The other difficult aspect of paying for business school is the fact that you may have to take time off from work in order to complete your studies. Although there are a lot of part time and online business schools, the most selective programs are for full time study only. The top business schools like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford actually prefer that serious candidates pursue two years of full time study on campus. Either way, you will still have to take time out of your day to study the materials and attend classes whether they are online or on campus.
The Advantages of Attending Business School
- Additional education
There is always an advantage to having some additional education and attending business school will give you a master’s degree at the end of day. You will always be able to use your education in some capacity and no one will be able to take it away from you. It could lead to more jobs, higher pay, or even the start of your own business.
- Greater chances of employment or advancement
In general, having an MBA will improve your chances of getting a job and it will also help you advance in a company at a much faster rate. A lot of major corporations target new business school graduates for their entry level management positions and even smaller companies are eager to have them as well. If you are working at the same company, then they will probably promote you even faster since you have more credentials. Many times these positions will also pay more money than average, so you could end up earning anywhere from $60,000-$100,000+ depending on the specialty and company.
- Learn entrepreneurship skills
Since you will learn everything about business during your classes, it is presumed that this knowledge will allow you to start your own business. You will have inside knowledge about how businesses really operate and what types of practices make them successful, so you can do the same for yours.
The Disadvantages of Attending Business School
- It will temporarily halt your career
Going to business school will temporarily halt your career because you will have to devote your time and energy to attending classes and studying. A lot of schools prefer that you spend to two years studying full time because it is much faster, but you can opt to attend part time or online for about 2-4 years depending on the program.
- Very expensive
There is really no way around the fact that it is expensive to attend business school. There are grants and scholarships available, but they will not cover everything in most cases and you will have to pay for a lot of things out of pocket. You will have to decide what your education is worth and how much you can afford to borrow.
- Not worth the cost unless you attend a top tier business school
Unfortunately, most employers do not care very much about the lower ranked business schools. They may see that you have an MBA, but the top companies will not recruit you from those schools and they will still offer you average salaries. MBA programs are not created equal and they have different courses, recruiters, and networking opportunities. Employers will only start to pay attention if you attend one of the top tier business schools.
- No guarantee of a job or promotion
In more recent years, a lot of new grads have had a lot of difficulty finding work. No matter what school you came from, there is no promise that you will get a job when you graduate. Your company may or many not decide to promote you after you have finished the program. You must be prepared for either one of these outcomes even if you attend a top business school.
Business school holds a lot of opportunities for highly motivated students, but it is definitely not for everybody. Make sure that you know exactly what you are going to do with your degree when you graduate and set goals in terms of what you want to accomplish while you are in school. There is no guarantee that you will get a better job or earn more money, but it is a step in the right direction.