EssaySnark does not condone talking to yourself.
People look at you weird when you do.
(Not like we have any experience with that or anything.)
Today however, even though it’s a long holiday here in the U.S., we thought we’d put up a post with a recommendation to do exactly that. Whether or not you’re celebrating Independence Day in America, you will hopefully have a few minutes to yourself at some point in the next few days. We suggest that you take some time – you could even do it right now, as soon as you finish reading this – and sit yourself down and have a little conversation. A pen and paper may be useful for this exercise, though you can do it all in your head too. Or, you could involve any partner or parents or significant others in your life, though you may want to talk to yourself about the topic first to see where you stand with it.
The conversation we recommend that you have with yourself is,
“Can I really afford this?”
Otherwise known as, “Holy Guacamole, Bschool Is Expensive!!!!!!!!!”
Higher education in the U.S. is an industry that gets away with constantly raising its prices. As in, every single year, tuition increases at almost every single bschool that we’ve ever heard of. Nice job if you can get it, eh? Of course, the school administrators are always claiming that they don’t have enough money to fund their important programs. The business schools on many top campuses are actually revenue-positive; MBA programs and all of their associated degree opportunities tend to bring in profits for the parent university. In this otherwise-unrelated video, Rich Lyons, the dean of UC Berkeley Haas, justifies the ever-increasing tuition at top schools by claiming that they are providing more value today than they did 10 years ago . And he states that average salaries of graduating MBAs has also been increasing over that time.
That may be true, but just because the average is going up does not mean that YOU will score a starting salary that’s at that number. (Remember, that’s how averages work – there’s a bunch of datapoints above and below the average, and sometimes they are way below.) Nobody can guarantee you what your exiting salary will be. What we can guarantee you is you’ll be on the hook for the same cost of tuition as everyone else is.
You cannot go into this assuming you’re going to get a bunch of scholarship money. Please do not misunderstand the situation. About 25% or so of admitted students get some offers of free money, and those typically are reserved for the applicants that the schools most heavily want to bring on board their programs – meaning, exceptionally high achievers, and women, and underrepresented minorities. If you’re in one of those groups then yes, there is more of a chance for such financial aid freebies but nobody should presume that it will be coming. Look at it this way: If you believe that you deserve to get paid for the benefit of increasing your lifetime earning potential then you have a mighty high view of your value in this world. Most people are happy with simply getting in to a top school, much less going into the process with their hand out. Perspective, people.
Our Accepted Student’s Guide covers a whole bunch of actions you should take once you’re in at a top school. Most people wait till they’re, uh, accepted before picking that up, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a gander at it earlier in the process. This is especially true for some of you international students wondering about financial aid.
The best kindness you can do to yourself NOW, sitting here a full year out from when you’ll actually be starting your MBA, is to begin saving. You will need more money than you realize to fund this little endeavor – and yes, that’s true even though you’re likely planning on getting student loans to cover the bulk of it. Most (all?) student loans do not disburse to you until you’re physically on campus, about to start the actual education itself. They typically do NOT cover the costs of actually GETTING TO campus. As in, moving long distance. Furnishing a new apartment. PAYING FOR that new apartment. They also don’t cover the couple-thousand-dollar-or-more deposit that you’ll be required to pay to hold your spot once you’re admitted.
If you’re interested in going to school in an expensive city – and face it, if you’re an international student, all American cities are going to seem expensive (have you seen the rents in the San Francisco Bay Area these days????) – then you really need to start implementing a financial plan, starting NOW.
Every little bit you save from this day forward will help you.
We recommend opening a special savings account (or shoe box) where you only put stuff in, and don’t take anything out, every single week for the next six months. And put stuff of significance in. If you only deposit $20 (or its equivalent in your currency) every week, you’re going to end up with $500. That’s chump change in the context we’re talking. Try for $50 a week, minimum. If you end up with $500, then that’s $500 more than you have saved now, but it’s still not going to take you very far in the real world. Don’t forget, too, most people need way more than that in actual application fees this Fall, just to get those apps in at the schools. Begin your active savings endeavor today.
And spend some time this weekend looking at the actual cost of attendance at these schools. Be honest with yourself. Is your financial situation such that you’ll be able to really pull this off? Many people only face up to this once they’re accepted, and then it’s like being doused with cold water: You get the coveted win and you’re in! But then you realize that it’s out of reach. How completely awful and depressing that would be.
Reality, Brave Supplicants. We invite you to live in it.
To review: The nearly-identical post last year exhorting the past season’s crop of BSers to do the same. We should just put this blahg on autopilot, republishing the same thing we said the year before. And the year before.