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# What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA?

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What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  08 Apr 2011, 12:33
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Deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA is making me sick, depressed, and disenchanted. This is mostly because of what has to be given up. Let me explain...

As of today, I am far from the traditional top-25 MBA applicant.

• I excel at work, but my work experience has no pedigree.
• My undergraduate degree was in history.
• I have studied abroad twice and speak a few different languages, but I only did this as a mechanism to escape the real world.
• I act in plays and do stand-up comedy, and the only reason I EVER considered business school is because of the intense need I feel to have a backup plan if I cannot make enough money from performing.

Summary: I suck.

I envy you guys and gals. [Most of] you have a clear vision of why you want this degree in the first place. Business and all of its trappings therein are your primary goal. (Correct me if I am wrong.)

I am much less certain. I know that it doesn't make much sense for me to go to business school unless I get into a top-ranked one with reasonable placement for consulting, but the only way I could get into one of those schools is by shelving my real dreams and hopping on the "Traditional-Path Express" for 70-80 hours a week for the next 2-3 years.

I just don't see how you guys can look at the prime of your life and say "alright, time to work until I am 25-27, go to business school for two years, then be chained to loan repayment for who knows how long!" Maybe you see it as a labor of love. I don't know.

Essentially, is the MBA what you REALLY want, and are you having to give up something else that matters to you more to obtain it?

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Each moment of time ought to be put to proper use, either in business, in improving the mind, in the innocent and necessary relaxations and entertainments of life, or in the care of the moral and religious part of our nature.

-William Andrus Alcott

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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  08 Apr 2011, 12:54
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rockzom wrote:
Deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA is making me sick, depressed, and disenchanted. This is mostly because of what has to be given up. Let me explain...

Let's stop here for a second. If this pursuit is making you all of those things, and you have barely started, then how do you think you would feel preparing for months (more like a year counting the test, applications, visits, and interviews), then going to school for two years after that? This is a bad sign.

rockzom wrote:

As of today, I am far from the traditional top-25 MBA applicant.

• I excel at work, but my work experience has no pedigree.
• My undergraduate degree was in history.
• I have studied abroad twice and speak a few different languages, but I only did this as a mechanism to escape the real world.
• I act in plays and do stand-up comedy, and the only reason I EVER considered business school is because of the intense need I feel to have a backup plan if I cannot make enough money from performing.

Summary: I suck.

I could point out that most top MBA students do not have a business degree. That your international studies are an asset. That your stand-up comedy experience (I have that as well) is great for your future interviews. But, it's really irrelevant. If you don't have ANY valid and passionate reason to get an MBA, you are going to be faking your life for the entire time you are applying and attending. No wonder you feel sick now!

rockzom wrote:

I envy you guys and gals. [Most of] you have a clear vision of why you want this degree in the first place. Business and all of its trappings therein are your primary goal. (Correct me if I am wrong.)

I am much less certain. I know that it doesn't make much sense for me to go to business school unless I get into a top-ranked one with reasonable placement for consulting, but the only way I could get into one of those schools is by shelving my real dreams and hopping on the "Traditional-Path Express" for 70-80 hours a week for the next 2-3 years.

I just don't see how you guys can look at the prime of your life and say "alright, time to work until I am 25-27, go to business school for two years, then be chained to loan repayment for who knows how long!" Maybe you see it as a labor of love. I don't know.

Essentially, is the MBA what you REALLY want, and are you having to give up something else that matters to you more to obtain it?

All choices have costs associated with them... opportunity costs. I doubt there is anyone on this board who is 100% confident in all their choices, including their pursuit of an MBA or the work that led up to it. Not to sound like a parent, school guidance counselor, or after school special, but that is normal. The degree of that doubt is something everyone needs to handle themselves. Are you going to be happy with this choice? In 1 year? In 5 years? In 50 years? Is there some pressing need for you to be rich, rather than happy? This is not something someone else can answer for you. Especially us who, frankly, don't know you except that you have, seemingly, no passion for business (the point of an MBA after all). My advice as a complete stranger? Do something that doesn't make you "sick, depressed, and disenchanted."
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  08 Apr 2011, 13:43
uprightcitizen...

That was truly a thoughtful, constructive reply.

uprightcitizen wrote:
All choices have costs associated with them... opportunity costs. I doubt there is anyone on this board who is 100% confident in all their choices, including their pursuit of an MBA or the work that led up to it. Not to sound like a parent, school guidance counselor, or after school special, but that is normal. The degree of that doubt is something everyone needs to handle themselves. Are you going to be happy with this choice? In 1 year? In 5 years? In 50 years? Is there some pressing need for you to be rich, rather than happy? This is not something someone else can answer for you. Especially us who, frankly, don't know you except that you have, seemingly, no passion for business (the point of an MBA after all).

Pursuing an MBA entered my head as a result of years of introspection, some real-world IT/management consulting experience, and the advice of my best friend, who attends an ultra-elite law school and opened my eyes to the realities of the hiring world. I realized that, if I wanted to be a consultant at a firm worth a damn, I needed a name-brand MBA.

Nonetheless, the path that so many MBA-hopefuls seem to have taken is unconscionable to me, both during and immediately following their undergraduate degrees. It seems mind-numbingly repressive and creatively stifling. Yet my mind tells me that this is just part of playing the game in the real world. Law school might not really train people to be lawyers, but it is still a hoop to jump through. The GMAT doesn't test your business acumen, but you still have to jump through that hoop.

If I want to be a consultant for 3-5 years or so while moonlighting as a performer, then somebody with my background seems to need an MBA to unlock the gate.

See the dilemma? Perhaps my aversion to the real world is a disease that needs a good dose of face-the-facts. Thanks again so much for the reply!

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Each moment of time ought to be put to proper use, either in business, in improving the mind, in the innocent and necessary relaxations and entertainments of life, or in the care of the moral and religious part of our nature.

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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  09 Apr 2011, 04:18
Speaking only for myself, I seriously started thinking about an MBA about 2 years ago after numerous professional experiences that made me feel the necessity of an MBA degree in order to gain a specific skillset/experiences to pursue a new career path from where I currently am.

I'd expect the majority of people who pursue MBAs are similar - it's a means to an end rather than the goal itself...which is probably why career goal essays are so popular
Manager
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  09 Apr 2011, 04:28
woomba wrote:
I'd expect the majority of people who pursue MBAs are similar - it's a means to an end rather than the goal itself...which is probably why career goal essays are so popular

If the MBA felt more like a means to a beginning than a means to an end then it would be more appealing. Starting an elite-MBA seems to be akin to retiring from young adulthood. It would be a lot easier to hang up the old ratty t-shirt and jeans uniform if my overarching aspiration were simply "work at company X, go to school X, do job X and be happy."

Then again, I still don't see how that makes sense, unless somebody's primary motivation is money/prestige. (If all you wanted were education, then any number of unranked MBA programs would serve that purpose.)

Money, prestige, and upward social mobility are things that we all want. The question, then, is how much of our life and other interests are we willing to give up to obtain them?

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Each moment of time ought to be put to proper use, either in business, in improving the mind, in the innocent and necessary relaxations and entertainments of life, or in the care of the moral and religious part of our nature.

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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  09 Apr 2011, 10:16
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I think you may be over stating how "focused" MBA types are. Especially during the applications process, where it's hard for others to distinguish "applications/essay narrative" and what one *really* feels and believes. A lot of applicants whether on online message boards or on campus interviews/events tend to be discussing "applications narrative" i.e. what makes a good story, whether it's really true or not.

The reality is, most applicants (including those who are successful at getting in) aren't as sure as they say they are.

In other words, a lot more applicants feel more like you than you may realize.

A lot of folks that I've seen go into it with some hazy ideas of what they'd like, but nothing really too specific. And what they come up with for their essays/interviews is usually more specific than what they actually believe anyhow (because they know they have to come up with a *specific* story). The fact is, most people (whether they are MBAs or not) aren't really sure, but will try and figure it out as it comes, taking everything in stride.

The dynamics that you're talking about isn't unique at all. Most of us struggle with it. Just replace "standup comedy" with "time with my spouse and kids", "restoring vintage cars", "playing in my band" or whatever.

I've been out of b-school for 10 years now (10 year reunion next month...). With most of our classmates, I can safely say that many of us probably still struggle with that. Taking the paycheck vs doing what we really want to do. What does happen though is that as time goes on, you feel less dependent on your "full-time career" as your sole source of fulfillment and happiness.

You can certainly be happy if your "passion" ends up being a full-time career. But if it doesn't, plenty of folks still find a way to be happy - it just may mean that they don't get it from their "day job".

In my opinion, that's always been the danger of the "follow your dreams" mantra. Yes, if you can do so, great. But if you can't or wont, don't feel horrible about not doing so (i.e. don't assume that you won't be happy if you don't follow your dreams). It's easy to fall into that trap of feeling that you will be unhappy and unfulfilled if you don't end up having a career that you love. The fact is, most people don't work their dream jobs - they have found a compromise of some sort -- a job that they like *enough* that keeps them afloat, with the capacity to do other things as well that they enjoy (or to spend time with loved ones). And even those who do get their "dream job", after a while it morphs into just a job -- some will become miserable, whereas others will find happiness elsewhere while they continue in their "dream job that is now only a job".

As a standup, I'm sure you've met plenty of comedians -- some of whom are happy and blessed about being able to do it, and others who are f*cking miserable curmudgeons. And for the office people, there are happy accountants and miserable ones.

So much of it is about learning how to compromise between competing priorities. And when you learn how to compromise in a way that allows you to move forward, you'll learn that your happiness has more to do with making the most of what you have, and less to do with going after what you want. You may still have wants and ambitions, but you're not defined by them.
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  10 Apr 2011, 11:55
I've had a variation of this same mental debate. I just turned 27 last month and will be starting in a 3 year part-time MBA program this fall. So work during the day, school at night, rinse/repeat for 3 years. It is scary to think that there goes my 20s and social life and when I'm done I'll be older (not saying 30s bad at all!) as well as in $100k of student loan debt. But more so how I view b-school is that it's an investment. That in this life time there's so much to do and so much to experience and that if you sacrifice now for just 2 or 3 years you can potentially be set with the right skill sets and network that will open countless doors for you for the rest of your life. MBA Admissions Consultant Joined: 26 Dec 2008 Posts: 2451 Location: Los Angeles, CA Followers: 80 Kudos [?]: 548 [3] , given: 0 Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink] 10 Apr 2011, 14:51 3 This post received KUDOS thisguy310 wrote: I've had a variation of this same mental debate. I just turned 27 last month and will be starting in a 3 year part-time MBA program this fall. So work during the day, school at night, rinse/repeat for 3 years. It is scary to think that there goes my 20s and social life and when I'm done I'll be older (not saying 30s bad at all!) as well as in$100k of student loan debt.

But more so how I view b-school is that it's an investment. That in this life time there's so much to do and so much to experience and that if you sacrifice now for just 2 or 3 years you can potentially be set with the right skill sets and network that will open countless doors for you for the rest of your life.

It's not really an age thing, but a state of mind. Actually, come to think of it, age is a great thing. While I had my share of fun in my 20s, the only thing I miss about it is my metabolism. Otherwise, the 30s (and hopefully beyond) have been far more interesting and meaningful. Sure, what one finds "meaningful" changes, but then again while I'm sure you may reminisce about playing with your toys as an 8-year old, there's other things you find more fun now at your age than you did as a kid.

I know folks (some of whom are MBA alums) who act as if their life is over. And they're in their mid- to-late 30s. The "it's too late too..." "I'm too old for..." and a generally defeatist attitude that would shame many 60 year olds. It's kind of sad.

And there are those who continue to find ways to reinvent themselves, to try new things, to see the glass as half full - even if they have to balance more responsibilities (work and family). In other words, they don't see their responsibilities as an excuse.

It's a self-fulfilling prophesy really. If you feel that your best days are in your 20s, then they certainly will be your best days unfortunately. If you see yourself as full of youthful exuberance and see the glass as half full now - it's not like that will change as you get older unless you believe it to be.

The 20s is a weird time for many people. It's the time where you've just stepped out of childhood, and everything about adulthood seems new. You'd like to think you're all grown up (and/or that the rest of your life will be in cruise control based on what you do today), but hopefully learn down the road that there's no such thing -- it's not that cut and dried, and more often than not, it's less about "plans" and more about making the most of all the surprises that you face (and there will be plenty...).

The 20s tends to be the time where you have the most hope but also the most insecurity/indecisiveness because you simply haven't had enough experience to really know yourself. Of course it's not like when you hit 30 you all of a sudden know everything, but with more experience living as an adult through many situations (work, friends, family, relationships, your values as it relates to an imperfect world) you begin to be more comfortable and familiar with who you are - including your flaws and things you may not have wanted to admit to yourself when you were younger. The flipside of that is you start to care less about how you're perceived, which gives you more freedom to make choices that are best for you rather than how it looks to others, or whether it will "set you up for the rest of your life." I remember so many of us in our 20s would constantly talk about "the future" and plotting (implicitly or explicitly) what our lives will be based on our choices today. And then after a while, that stops when the weight of the present forces you to just take things One. Step. At. A. Time.

Here's another way to put it. If you're worried about "missing out" on the "fun" you'll have in your 20s -- don't. Because when it comes to the main regrets people have about their 20s -- having "more fun" or "less fun" is rarely what comes to mind. Sure, some may wished to have traveled more, started a band, hooked up more, went clubbing more on weekends, etc. but they're rarely things that eat away at you. The real regrets come with the *people* in your life -- friends, exes, family members, colleagues, etc. - certain episodes where you wished you hadn't treated them a certain way, or the way you behaved, or the way you handled the situation. And those issues aren't really age specific anyhow.

You don't need to be in your 20s to do a lot of the "fun" things you may have in mind. If you want to travel lots, there are MBA classmates of mine I know who did precisely that by taking sabbaticals. The "treadmill" you think you're getting on in you 30s and beyond is just that - it's only there if you imagine it (again if you think your life is over or you can't do XYZ because of your age, then you won't and can't do it; if you think you can, you will). And more importantly, the choices you make now aren't as precious or life-changing as you think they may be, because life is rarely a linear progression anyhow. It's a virtual guarantee that you'll have no choice but to spend most of your energy handling the surprises that come your way as you go through school, get a job after b-school, and so forth.

I can certainly understand that fear of making the "wrong" choice, but hopefully that fear will pass with time.

Again, don't take this whole journey too seriously, or you'll end up with an ulcer or one of those super-neurotic types that you'll inevitably run into in your b-school program.
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  11 Apr 2011, 07:02
I felt the same way as you. I had to move across the country, give up a job with great perks (not my dream job, but very comfortable for sure), make my relationship long-distance, and fall ass-back into debt to get my MBA. I was not one of the people that planned for 3 years to get it. I basically wanted a graduate degree and thought this would be the best one to get. I started looking into it in May of 2009 and applied for the Fall 2010 sessions and got into 5 of the six schools I applied for. But it was a lot of work.

It's hard. The entire process gets harder with every step. It's not really fun. School is much harder than you'd anticipate, no matter what anyone says. It's busy and there's a huge learning curve because you need to learn so many broad topics and no one is an expert in everything. If you're an all star in Finance, chances are you'll get a bad mark in Marketing or Leadership because these are very advanced level courses.

I'm still wondering if this was the right decision, which is not abnormal. I think everyone has buyers remorse as soon as they sign up for B-School because you need to be somewhat of an elite individual to get in and you always wonder "what if... What if I kept in my comfort zone as a big fish in a small pond? Is the MBA gonna make me a big fish in a big pond?" Everyone I've talked to who goes to top b-schools wonders if they made the right decision - it's normal.

It is a life changing decision and I think the outrageous cost of the degree is what makes it a harder decision than most others because you need to make an MBA salary to pay it off without becoming house poor afterwards. However, you need to remember you are learning. If you do wanna learn this stuff, and it is interesting once you get into it, then it's a good move. If you are just going to have a fall-back plan and have absolutely no interest in any of the core subjects (Operations, Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Strategy, Economics, Organizational Behaviours, Policy), I might look at a cheaper backup plan like a certification or a professional designation.

Everyone has different thoughts about whether the MBA was the right choice and it is a huge decision that makes most of us sick to our stomach to think about, so your feelings are normal. As a fall-back plan, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis. This is two years (and literally, two years with zero social life outside of B-School) and upwards of 100-150k you're giving up.
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  11 Apr 2011, 07:19
There is some absolutely SAGE advice in these replies. It makes me really happy to see such outstanding EQ from a group that is perhaps better known for IQ.

I am just taking it one step at a time. I don't even view the GMAT as something I am taking to get into business school. I view it as a personal challenge to reach my true potential for once.

I half-assed the SAT and got a 1290. I half-assed the ACT and got a 29. I half-assed the GRE and got a 1300. I have consistently positioned myself on a penultimate plateau instead of joining the ranks of the truly high achievers. The highest scale scores I have gotten on any practice GMAT so far are a Q43 and a V44, which would be right around a 700. In the past I would've settled for this, but no more. I am tired of settling for above-average when I can do even better.

So whether or not I ever end up going to business school is inconsequential. I am not going to do well on this test for some admissions council.

I am going to do well for me.

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Each moment of time ought to be put to proper use, either in business, in improving the mind, in the innocent and necessary relaxations and entertainments of life, or in the care of the moral and religious part of our nature.

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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  05 Mar 2012, 17:26
What did you decide?
Manager
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  05 Mar 2012, 17:36
Master's in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at a state school. MBA isn't for me.

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  06 Mar 2012, 16:14
After all that? Couldn't cut it? Damn I was expecting a better ending to the comedy routine. I mean Alex wrote the bulk of the novel, you could have at least written the freaking ending.
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Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA? [#permalink]  24 Dec 2013, 10:37
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Drejetm wrote:
After all that? Couldn't cut it? Damn I was expecting a better ending to the comedy routine. I mean Alex wrote the bulk of the novel, you could have at least written the freaking ending.

This is a MEGA necro-bump, but sweet stuff like this just deserves credit.
Re: What Are You Giving Up For Your MBA?   [#permalink] 24 Dec 2013, 10:37
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