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Alternative Path for Career Changers [#permalink]
22 May 2007, 09:11
Since in theory it is easier to get into an elite program part time, and the major benefit between part time and full time is an internship, would it not be in your best interest to take a PT program at a higher ranked school and while in the program, accept a job in the field that you are interested in moving to? I.e. Interview for an analyst position at a consulting firm, and take a weekend mba program at a local elite like Haas, by the time you graduate, you would have 3 years of consulting experience at potentially a higher ranked program while drawing an income vs. a FT program at a lower ranked school and a few months as an intern with considerably more debt.
Part-time programs are not as well-regarded. I think in general, people who attend part-time programs are people who already hold lucrative jobs who want or need an MBA, or people who work in industry finance who only need an MBA as a rubber stamp on their resume.
If you're thinking of moving industries, usually an MBA facilitates that, so if you're planning on just making the move at the same time you start a part-time program, I think you'll miss the huge benefit of a full-time MBA credential which would open more doors and likely get you into a better firm at a higher position.
Most business school recruiting offices don't allow their part-time students to interview with the top recruiters that come to campus. For instance if Chicago has a great business relationship with Company X, they're going to offer up their best and brightest (presumably the people willing to forgo two year's salary and go full time) to this Company so that they don't wast the company's time and weaken their relationship with the company. It also helps their full-time students get placed at jobs which is very important to schools (whereas they don't have to worry about part-time students as much, they're usually holding jobs already).
Just a small bone to pick with Johnny: I wouldn't say that part-timers are not among the best and brightest. It seems to me that they're the ones who have already gotten to a solid place in their careers -- so good that they don't want to step away.
I know a lot of really brilliant folks in my field who received part-time MBAs: they'd achieved top-status in their careers, but wanted to add the know-how that comes with an MBA. But maybe that's specific to my field (nonprofity economic development).
Aaudetat - I don't think it's specific to your field, you're right, there are plenty of bright people in part-time programs. It is a gross generalization to say the full-timers compared to the part-timers are necessarily brighter.
To explain what I meant a little clearer (or to think before I speak) I guess in general, full-time students make a better prospect for the types of companies that recruit on campus, like i-banks and consulting firms that come looking for hungry young money-grubbers (another generalization, there I go again!) whereas people who are going part-time are likely people established in their field as you suggested, and they probably have a strategy for landing their next job -- being entrenched in their industry as they are, they likely have a great network of immediate colleagues.
Just a small bone to pick with Johnny: I wouldn't say that part-timers are not among the best and brightest.
True or not, the fact that PT programs are less selective does create the perception that PT students aren't of the same caliber as the FT students at that same school. Anyone considering the PT route should at least be aware of that because that perception is not just held by a small minority.
I actually think that the elite/ultra-elite PT programs are fairly selective.
At all elite part-time programs, the class is mainly made up of top notch business professionals who have achieved a fair measure of professional success. I chatted with some current Haas PTers recently and I left with the impression that all of them would be able to walk-in to any ultra-elite B school.
The perception you talked about is recursive in nature. Because many full-time candidates think the way you do, they stay away from good part-time programs.
Also, the applicant pool for a part-time program is pretty condensed because any international applicant is automatically ruled out because of the visa process.(this precludes the non-greencard Indian IT demographic, a huge chunk of the application volume) and because most PT candidates have pretty successful at work when they apply, the applicant pool is self-selective in nature and in turn usually better than that of a full time program.
So a part-time acceptance rate of 40% may be comparable to the elite acceptance rate around 20-25%.
The perception that PTers are not among the best and brightest is, atleast from my experience, not shared by recruiters. It is shared mainly by students, current and aspiring,and is one for the MBA urban legends collection.
I agree with Dukes. The admissions standards are measurably easier for PT programs than for FT programs at comparable schools. While I agree that there are many smart and capable people at the part time programs, they are not generally of the same caliber of the FT students.
Aside from the numbers, other things point to a difference in student quality. To me, the biggest thing is the number of people in the comparable programs. Some of the top PT programs that come to mind, Kellogg, Chicago, Haas, all have far more people in the PT programs than the FT. Since PT programs tend to draw the bulk of their students from the immediate business area, it stands to reason that their talent pool is much more limited than a well-known program that draws talent from around the world.
Also, many schools do not give their PT students access to their career services. I didn't look closely at PT programs, but I'm pretty sure I recall that either Chicago or Kellogg doesn't (Chicago if forced to guess) allow their PT students access to career services. I believe that recruiters, especially for the traditional high-competition jobs, view FT & PT candidates quite differently.
Certainly, there are many smart and capable PT students, especially at the top schools. However, I believe there is a clear distinction between FT & PT.
I do agree with Pel that recruiters for the traditional IB and high profile finance jobs view FT and PTers differently. If a PTer is a potential career changer then he/she will definitely have lesser chance of landing an IB gig. However, I believe it is not necessarily because of perceived student quality. IB firms would rather select someone who is young and more malleable than a 10-year veteran from, say the IT industry, who will likely not relish the entry level position.
Schools have an incentive to maintain high placement statistics for the full-time program, because these statistics directly impact the rankings for the school and there is lesser upside in concentrating the energies of the career placement office on PT placement. IB placements for PTers are tougher, also because of the lack of internship.
Coming back to the original question posed by piper, I would advise PT program to someone who is NOT a career changer. A career changer is better off getting a full time degree because he/she will receive more assistance from the career office and an internship will be very important to demonstrate that you can cut it in the targeted post-MBA industry .
I can't speak to Haas, but the evening programs at Kellogg and Chicago both have around 1,100 students - right around the same number as the full-time programs at both schools. Chicago does have another 350 or so in the weekend program, but the argument that the talent pool is enclosed doesn't apply to it, since it does draw from a national level. Both Kellogg and Chicago part-time programs also allow students to participate in the full-time recruiting process. You do have to either a.) have not received any tuition reimbursement from your employer, or b.) have permission from your employer, but part-timers do have access.
I don't really want to get into the whole "part-time" vs. "full-time" debate(I'm swamped at work right now) but I do agree that there is the perception that part-time isn't as good as full-time. I don't agree with it, but the perception/bias exists and that is something part-timers need to be aware of. A part-time program is probably not the best way to go if you want to change careers.
I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that recruiting limitations for PT students had more to do with the fact that they're usually sponsored. I.e. a school can't take some company's money and then facilitate their employee's search for another job.
I was also deciding between part time and full time and spoke to a few PT students. They were of the opinion that PT programs were not worth it, unless getting a PT MBA would make a difference in one's career progress in one's current organization. Some b schools don't provide the same access to their career services to PT students as they do to FT students. Moreover PT students tend to have less time on their hand to use the alumni network of the b school. So it is tough for a PT student to land a better job even in the same industry that they are in.
A PT student could reap some longer term benefits in their chosen profession, however the chances of seeing an immediate change in role/responsibilities/pay as FT students do are quite less.
I was thinking about going Part-Time, but the people I spoke with who are current part-timers basically said that:
1. For them it's just a rubber-stamp, something they NEED on their resume to make it to the next level of their current organization
2. It absolutely sucks working 9-5, then going to classes in the evening, then studying all weekend.
I don't see how you could go part-time and not feel like you're half-a$$ing both your job and your school experience. People who I work with that go to school in the evening have to frequently leave work early to make it to class, and so they are thought of as flighty and unreliable (not in terms of their overall character, but in terms of how they approach their job), while I'm sure they feel that they don't get to take full advantage of what the school has to offer in terms of outside-of-class events.