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I have been accepted into a top 25 program, and I need help deciding whether I should attend. Unfortunately, I did not receive any scholarships or grants, so if I decide to go, I will have to take out loans. The estimated cost of attendance for the school I have been accepted to is 65k per year. When you include my undergraduate debt, I will be 160k in the hole when I graduate. On a standard payment plan I am looking at paying $1,900 per month. Even if I consolidate my loans, and stretch my payment out, I am still looking at payments of approximately $1,400 per month. Incurring this amount of debt wouldn’t scare me if I were planning on going into IB or Consulting. However, my goal is to work in International Development, for an organization such as USAID or Catholic Relief Services.
I spent the last two years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, and have made a lot of contacts within the Development arena. Entry-level salaries typically range from the high 30k’s to the low 50k’s. It doesn’t take a math whiz to realize that I can’t afford to service this type of debt based upon my estimated starting salary.
Now, I know the obvious question is, “why didn’t you apply to schools with loan forgiveness programs?” The answer is, I did, but I didn’t get into any of them. I actually applied to 4 programs, 3 of which had loan forgiveness programs. After 2 rejections and 1 WL, I was finally accepted into my backup school. The one school without a loan forgiveness program.
So my question is, “what should I do?”
Option 1: Go to top 25 program and incur massive amounts of debt. Given my limited work experience, 2 years as a marketing analyst and 2 years in the Peace Corps, it is extremely unlikely I would be able to land a position in IB or similar high-paying gig. Most likely I end up working in CPG or similar paying job. If you include time spent in bschool, I am looking at 6 to 8 years before I can return to the International Development field. Although this is technically the safest and surest route, I’m not exactly pumped up about this option.
Option 2: Get a job teaching English in South America or Asia, and reapply next year. While this is the most tempting, it is also the riskiest. With the economy going down the tubes, applications are expected to rise. Given that it will be even harder to get in next year, will teaching English in a foreign country give me that extra little edge to get accepted? I scored a 710 on the GMAT, and had a 3.3 GPA in undergrad, so I know it’s not that.
Option 3: Get a job working in the private sector. Apply the following year for the class of 2012, for a part-time MBA program. There are only 2 part-time programs I would consider in my area, and given my GMAT scores would expire, this is a one shot deal. I should be able to save enough money by working, so that by the time I finish my part-time program I will be able to afford to work in the Development field. Including time spent working and bschool; I am looking at 4 to 5 years before I can finally do what I want to do.
Right now, I don’t like any of my options. I’m hoping that you guys will be able to give me some feedback, and perhaps help me see something that I’m overlooking.
My advice: get in now, do consulting or IB post-MBA and gain a ton of useful experience, increase your market value and go debt-free, then do the non-profit stuff and save the world. Turning away from your MBA in order "to teach English in Asia" is a questionable strategy, frankly.
I agree with Xerox. You can land a job in consulting or IB, just prepare well for the interview, and coming from a Top 25 should open a few doors. Work your ass off for 3-5 years, pay off your debt, and then save the world (so to speak.)
From what I have read on this board, and hopefully consulting and IB gurus can chime in, but I don't believe having a non-traditional background will prohibit you from pursuing those jobs. In consulting, just crack the case and fit in and you should be competitive.
So, my question is a bit different... if you already have experience in your target field, can't you get the job you want without an MBA in the first place -- and presumably they don't pay a premium for the MBA, so its not like you'd make more post MBA than you would pre, right?
For what its worth, you can definitely do consulting or IB.
Re: Help me decide what to do
03 Jul 2008, 16:36