Certainly there’s no part of our lives that covid-19 has not touched.
Even if you have not had a change in employment, it’s likely that the past year has had you re-examine some core values. Maybe you’re thinking differently about family, and how far away you want to be from them when you embark on your MBA adventure. Perhaps you’ve decided you want to go to school closer to home — or you’ve even started seriously considering an online MBA that you never would have imagined before.
One factor that has long been a given is that a top MBA program is expensive. There’s really no excuse for the high cost of higher education in this country especially. Tuitions have gone up at most every school, every single year, since as far back as we’ve been paying attention to these things. A few schools announced freezes on tuition increases in 2020 but it’s highly unlikely they will maintain such freezes for long. The other day we talked about the idea of hunting for scholarships — but dang, it sucks that that has to be part of the whole equation. Education is so important to personal growth for the individual and for the health of society and evolution of humanity. Why does it have to be so expensive??
Current trends for parents of high schoolers who are figuring out where they want their kids to go to college are to incorporate finances as a bigger part of the conversation than they have in the recent past. We’re wondering if that’s been coming up for all of you too?
When the universities closed down in 2020, there was tremendous hand-wringing among administrators that they’d go belly-up. The revenue model for these schools has traditionally been location-based, where students being on campus allows the school to charge all sorts of fees for everything from dormitories to cafeterias to parking permits. At the time, we were pretty solidly on the side of the schools in charging full tuition even for an online experience for Spring semester 2020 — but now that things have had time to be processed and schools have adapted, and the realities have manifested (which we also predicted) that they didn’t experience mass migrations away from higher ed as they thought, we believe it’s time for schools to really take the problem of cost seriously.
The problem with the scarcity of the prestigious schools is that a place like Stanford or Wharton can charge whatever they want — and the business schools tend to be a profit center on campus, especially with the executive education market where they can truly charge the big bucks. There are clear signs that online delivery of such programs is now not only acceptable, but it’s going to be seen as preferable — and this opens up so many more opportunities for revenue and increasing margins. Producing a good online program is not a trivial undertaking, and it’s not like there are no costs involved. However, the economics are totally different, and it’s a true opportunity that the fast-mover schools are already starting to pursue.
Online options for the full-time MBA also mean that schools can potentially increase their class sizes, as Harvard did on a temporary basis and will likely make permanent. We’re betting that many other top schools that also launched larger classes last Fall will maintain those larger sizes as the new status quo.
That benefits everyone — and it also means that there should be opportunity to reduce some of their costs. Tuition should not be the same based on these changing dynamics. (Yes, adaptation to the realities of the virus have added costs too, so it’s not like the schools are necessarily swimming in excess funding right now.)
The schools should, as a part of their mission of service to society, be working for ways to lower their costs and pass those savings on to the students. We have never ever seen that actually happen before, but they should be trying to do this.
As a result of the examination of values that many individuals are also undertaking, we’re wondering if you’re looking at education differently and evaluating your own priorities, and if there have been any changes in what you value most as you pursue an advanced degree?
If you haven’t given this much thought, we don’t blame you. These conversations rarely happen unprompted. However, maybe a post like this one will get you to musing on your requirements and what means the most to you.
The truth is that the MBA tends to have a fabulous ROI, so even at the sky-high tuition rates that the schools get away with charging, it’s still going to be a great investment in yourself for the long term.
At the same time, when you are faced with the realities of how much debt you’ll be taking on… it can make you take stock. We’ve heard of some people who get physically nauseous when they have to sign the loan documents. This is a real obligation.
We’re not saying this to freak you out — only to encourage a clear-eyed reflection!
We’d be curious, too, if you have had any shifts in your thinking? On finances or anything else?
The world is changing, and maybe our individual values are changing too, as a result of all that we’ve been through.
Tell us what you think.