One issue I face often in my coaching practice is the MBA — Master of Business Administration. Some clients wonder if they should get one. Others wonder why their MBA isn’t worth more.
Typically, if you’re going back to school for a MBA, it’s for one of a handful of reasons:
- You want to transition your career into a new field (from engineering to marketing, for example)
- You want to learn the skills necessary for management
- You want to use it to work your way up the ladder
It’s typically not just because you want to learn for the sake of learning. MBA candidates are looking for value.
So, how do you decide if you should go back?
Recently, I’ve encountered a number of MBA grads who have been very disappointed with their degrees.
Why? Because their employers don’t take them seriously. They spent lots of time and money earning them, and nobody cares. They didn’t get a raise. Future employers don’t acknowledge their new degrees. It’s like they never went back.
How could this be? Are MBAs just not worth anything anymore?
I believe they are still worth something. But, you need to make your decisions carefully. There have been many for profit institutions in the news lately for questionable practices. When you select a school, first look to be sure yours has positive press.
Then, ask the school for their “post graduation report.” Most schools publish how much their graduates are making, and which companies they’re working for. Compare the average starting salary to how much you’re making now. Is it considerably more? If not, you may want to look at a different school.
Think hard before picking an online program. Taking classes from the comfort of your home can be attractive. But, don’t be fooled. A big part of what you get from your MBA is:
- Learning from in person class discussions with your classmates
- A solid network that you can reach out to in the future
MBA school is not just about what you can learn from books. And, employers know that.
If you do an online only MBA, make sure it’s a very reputable one. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the camp with the folks who find their MBA to be worthless.
It’s also important to consider the total ROI for a MBA program. For example, when I went to Pepperdine, I quit my full-time job and moved to LA. I didn’t work during my 15-month program. To cover my personal expenses and tuition, I saved money in advance and took out student loans.
It was important for me to look at whether forgoing my salary for over a year and taking on student loan debt made financial sense. For me, it did. Upon graduation, my market value had doubled. Talk about a quick ROI.
To calculate the potential return of the program you’re considering, you can look online for a MBA school ROI calculator. Here’s one that Forbes has on their website.
A MBA can completely change the path of your career in a positive way. But, it can also be a total bust. Before you enroll in a program, do your homework to ensure that the program you select really will meet your goals, and reasons for going back.
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