When is the Right Time to Pursue an MBA?
Life stopped being easy after undergrad for most of us. Up until then there was a defined path and clear timeline to education: High School > College > Job. It was a time of exploring and the consequences of choosing the wrong college or getting a bad job right after school didn’t matter as much. Fast forward to today and things aren’t quite as straightforward. Careers stagnate, interests change, and priorities shift. Yet, as an experienced professional, it becomes much harder to switch careers and obtain jobs that offer the upward trajectory and financial stability that many of us now enjoy. For thousands of people each year the solution is simple – pursue an MBA. However, there is no sign saying now is the right time so how do you know? After all, timing can mean everything!
When it comes to business school, there is no right age to apply. Typically, most applicants have four to five years of work experience and are on the cusp of transitioning into a middle management type position after putting in time as a junior employee. It is during this major career transition point where a person has enough work experience to decide whether to continue down his or her chosen career path or try something completely new. But just wanting a new job doesn’t necessarily justify the huge investment that an MBA requires. A simple indicator for someone that is ready for an MBA is if the applicant is seeking to transform the world they work and live in rather than change the scenery and type of work that they do. These are the applicants that admissions committees are hungry for. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, here are two great examples of why you would want to pursue an MBA instead of simply a new job:
(Key word = example! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of valid reasons to pursue an advanced degree!)
1. You have a new idea to solve a problem or develop an opportunity. This can be anything from finding a new way to do business in an existing industry, developing new processes to transform how the business world operates, uncovering new markets, or exploring a new product. The key is to know what that problem or opportunity is that you want to focus on and to clearly communicate it in your application. For example, don’t apply to business school because you just want to be another investment banker interested in executing big deals. Apply to business school to become an investment banker because you believe the existing M&A model for mega-mergers is broken due to overvaluations in the market and you have ideas on how to fix it. See the difference?
2. You discovered a new passion or interest that can be applied in a business setting. Have you recently discovered a new love for coding or become obsessed with wearable technology that provides instant health metrics or just a general passion for a particular industry or function? Transitioning a passion or interest and finding into a new career path is a popular reason for pursuing an MBA. The applicants that are successful in turning their passion into admission into a top MBA program and post-MBA careers are the ones that are truly devoted (and maybe a little obsessive) about their passion. These are the students that risk it all!
If you feel that it is time to pursue an MBA because you are tired of your old job and want a new one or just want to make more money you may want to spend more time thinking about applying to business school. Don’t get us wrong, these are valid reasons for applying and drive thousands of applicants every year. However, having vision and conviction to actually do something with your education should really be the driver in determining if this is the right time to pursue an MBA. Last, but not least, for those applicants with families and significant others be sure to consider the impact of two years of business school will have on the home life. No income, long distance relationships, relocation, and distractions from school are all important considerations when thinking about the big picture. Timing around family planning and personal commitments often gets overlooked yet can add a lot of additional stress to a business school experience.
Good luck with the application process and please check out all the additional free resources and advice we have to help you with this important decision. For further discussions on the right time to pursue an MBA we encourage you to sign up for our free consultation with one of our admissions experts.