The MBA is a very expensive degree.
Hopefully you’re aware of that already.
The schools publish numbers on their sites about tuition and estimated costs, yet many applicants neglect to read those pages until after they’ve been admitted and are faced with the prospect of plunking down a deposit and looking at how they’re going to fund things.
As a very rough shorthand you can expect the MBA to cost about $200k. It’s higher at some schools, and it’s much more expensive to live in certain cities. Harvard, MIT, Columbia, NYU, Wharton, Booth and Kellogg are all going to be a more expensive proposition than, say, Darden or Cornell due to these factors. (However, when you’re calculating the total nut you’ll be on the hook for in financing your MBA, remember that yes, it does cost more to live in certain cities, but you can’t really chalk up the expenses required to live as part of your MBA calculation. It’ll cost you some base amount to live somewhere for two full years. You’ll be paying rent and eating and paying transportation costs somewhere. Those costs are not actually the costs of the MBA.)
Plus, you’re going to be out of the work force for two years. You’re going to be missing out on the new opportunities and developments hitting in that space. If you’re in a fast-moving field like cryptocurrency or a very relationship-based sector like investing, then you may be missing out on a lot if you step aside for the MBA. In some fields, the time spent educating yourself at business school will more than make up for it, but in others, based on what phase of growth it’s in, it may be a viable argument to say that now is not a good time to step away from the action. That’s an unusual case but it does exist.
We spoke about the Three Types of MBA Applicants recently where we identified a certain category of candidate who is H/S/W or Bust, where they are only interested in going to a Top 3 school. That post was fairly critical of that attitude.
Because the MBA is about an education.
If you’re looking at the MBA from a purely transactional standpoint — you’re spending X dollars in order to increase your salary to Y amount on the other side — then sure, we can see the issues with it. It’s soooooo expensive, and the tuition is going up every single year. It is important to look at the cost.
However, the reason we look askance at those for whom a school’s ranking or prestige is so paramount in their calculus of whether to attend is because the MBA is more than just three little initials after your name, or a fancy-pants school listed at the bottom of your resume or on your LinkedIn.
The MBA is about expanding yourself. It’s about learning stuff.
It’s not just about “the network” and the important people you will meet.
Sure, we get it. Some young professionals coming from investing in particular are looking to the MBA to expand their Rolodex and when they’re saying they want to go to a school for “the network” they mean it. Bschool alumni networks tend to be a very rich resource for soliciting partners and getting connections to make deals.
And, in certain sectors, for certain high-performing individuals, it’s definitely possible to make as much money without an MBA as you could make if you had one.
The MBA does not guarantee you anything — except for one thing.
It guarantees that you’ll be sitting in a classroom with a really smart professor (often a PhD in his or her field) surrounded by really smart students for two full years of your life.
Yes, it will come at a cost.
It’ll be two years that you could’ve done something else with.
It’ll be a whole crapload of cash that you could’ve invested, or put as a downpayment on a house, or bought a Tesla with.
Let’s rephrase that.
It’ll be a whole crapload of cash that you could’ve
invested, or put as a downpayment on a house, or bought a Tesla with.
The reason for the crossout is hopefully obvious: When you’re getting an MBA, you’re investing in yourself.
The MBA for many people is going to be lots of fun parties and lots of employers coming to campus to tell you how great you are and how much they want you to come work for them. It’s a special time in your life when you’re able to put aside “normal” obligations like getting up and going to work every day, and instead you get to get up and go to school. You get to design your own educational experience in terms of what to focus on and what electives to take and how to specialize. You get to quit that job you’re in now with the manager you don’t really like and go do something completely for yourself for a time.
Is that not valuable?
Mostly we say it’s valuable because, having gone through it, we know how much it can stretch you.
You will be forced to take classes you probably have no interest in, during the core curriculum in the first few semesters.
But just like eating your carrots when you were a kid, you’ll do it at first because someone else says it’s important, and maybe over time you’ll learn that you actually enjoy it.
It’s a chance to stretch your wings, try new things, figure out who you really are.
Is all of that worth how much money you will spend?
That’s only for you to decide.
But to claim that an MBA is only “worth it” if you can go to Harvard or Stanford or Wharton….
Well, that just strikes us as, dunno, a little overvaluing YOURSELF, if you know what we mean.
Like, you don’t see any value to the education that a school like Kellogg or Berkeley or NYU can offer? Really?
Hmmm. Well then we’d have to agree. You’re right. You definitely don’t need an MBA.
You already have it all figured out.
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