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Soon to be college grad - when to start studying/take GMAT?

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New post 29 Nov 2007, 22:11
Hi all:

My first posting here. Business school is something I definitely see in my near future (read: within 5 years) and I am seeking some advice on what to do. You folks seem rather knowledgeable (and have plenty more experience than I do!)

Some background:

I'm an undergraduate senior, majoring in Economics, currently attending an Ivy, and I expect to graduate with >3.6 CGPA.

I am going to be working FT for a top economic/strategy consultancy starting next summer and plan to work there until I go to B-school. I have been told (and part of the reason I chose this position) that it places well into B-school.

I, like many of you folks, am shooting for the top tier schools.

The problem:

I have been thinking about devoting next semester to studying the GMAT and taking it in the late spring or summer. By doing this, I am able to study for the GMAT in "pure academic mode" without the distractions of a full-time working schedule.

Some of my other friends who have taken the GMAT already have advised that I hold off on studying/taking the GMAT until I am seriously thinking about applying to B-school (read: 2-3 years down the line).

What are your experiences and what would you suggest?

Any posts are more than welcome.

Thanks a bunch in advance!
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New post 29 Nov 2007, 22:33
chron3k wrote:
Hi all:

My first posting here. Business school is something I definitely see in my near future (read: within 5 years) and I am seeking some advice on what to do. You folks seem rather knowledgeable (and have plenty more experience than I do!)

Some background:

I'm an undergraduate senior, majoring in Economics, currently attending an Ivy, and I expect to graduate with >3.6 CGPA.

I am going to be working FT for a top economic/strategy consultancy starting next summer and plan to work there until I go to B-school. I have been told (and part of the reason I chose this position) that it places well into B-school.

I, like many of you folks, am shooting for the top tier schools.

The problem:

I have been thinking about devoting next semester to studying the GMAT and taking it in the late spring or summer. By doing this, I am able to study for the GMAT in "pure academic mode" without the distractions of a full-time working schedule.

Some of my other friends who have taken the GMAT already have advised that I hold off on studying/taking the GMAT until I am seriously thinking about applying to B-school (read: 2-3 years down the line).

What are your experiences and what would you suggest?

Any posts are more than welcome.

Thanks a bunch in advance!


Very nice econ degree and great GPA. Looks like ur lined up for an excellent job as well. Im envious :P Tampa lacks on jobs such as the one you are going to do.

As far as GMAT goes i dunno. Personally id just take it and get it over with. Thats what Im doing. I kindof had a good excuse to do so b/c I was essentially crippled all summer and up to last month. Since u have the job lined up already Id say go for it if you can really spare the time. Dont stress urself out though. Ul be in ur last semester and may just wanna cool off before work.
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New post 29 Nov 2007, 22:38
Thanks Blackbelt for the feedback.

A large part of me does really want to "get it over with." But another consideration of mine is that I will be much better prepared to take the test just by having 2-3 years of work experience under the belt. Presumably, better writing skills, reasoning skills, etc. Would those here with multiple years of work experience agree with me here?
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New post 29 Nov 2007, 23:20
Welcome chron!

I think that if I were in your position, I'd go ahead and take care of the gmat as soon as possible. Take advantage that you are still in school and are still in an academic stage, so to speak.

Later, it will be harder for you to go back to a study routine. I'm not saying it's impossible, most of us had to do it, but I can tell you it takes some adjustment and a lot of effort to work and perform as good as one has to perform at work and to study for a test like the gmat at the same time.

I personally don't think there's much experience will contribute to your gmat abilities, unless your job has a lot to do with arranging 4 students in 4 chairs, where student a and b don't want to sit together... you get the point.

If I had the chance to go back, that's what I would do at least.
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New post 30 Nov 2007, 11:50
the purpose of taking the GMAT is to gain entry into an MBA program. The choice to pursue an MBA program depends on what YOU value and what value an MBA adds.

Does an MBA add value to your resume/career path? I know several ppl who are in Leveraged Finance making 700k a year (ages 27-29) that dont have MBAs.


From dealmaven.com
========
The value of an MBA depends on several things. First, it depends on how you define “value.” Many value propositions are less tangible than others, though not necessarily less important. If an MBA allows you to move into a position of working fewer hours for similar compensation (i.e. I-banking at 80-110 hours/week to private equity at 40-60), or if it empowers you to start that non-profit or social enterprise you’ve always dreamed about, it’s difficult to put a price tag on the degree.
Most MBA candidates, of course, would measure the value of an MBA by its financial return. In this case, the value of the MBA would depend, in part, on where you go. In highly competitive circles, it’s often argued that anything outside a top 15 or 20 program (some people say top 3 or 5) is a waste of time. Clearly, this is a narrow view—many people benefit powerfully from the knowledge they gain as students at less-competitive schools, and these gains are often reflected in increased job responsibility and salary.

However, the original argument is not without merit, depending on the candidate in question. If Karen’s goal is to work in finance, and she’s already managed to secure a job with a New York I-Bank where, after a few years of work, she now makes $400k per year (including bonus), it might not behoove her to go anywhere other than a top program. Going to a top 5 school may allow her to break into private equity or hedge fund work, or at least to secure a higher position in I-banking. Here, it’s worth noting that people often use the MBA as a launching pad to (or toward) a position of participating in the upside of their companies. In the best of times for the finance industry (like right now), this participation can be worth millions of dollars per year, and an MBA from a top school can expedite the process.

Many of the most competitive firms, however, don’t recruit heavily at schools outside the top 20 (a few don’t recruit outside the top 3), and if Karen attends such a school, she may even have a tough time getting her old job back. Needless to say, this would be a bad investment for Karen, especially considering the cost involved. Not only will she be paying almost $100k for two years of school, she’ll be sacrificing two years of salary, meaning her total investment will exceed $900k (maybe by a lot, depending on what her raises would’ve been). That’s a lot of money to pay for a job that isn’t much better than the one she had in the first place.

In sum, Karen needs to go to a top school in order for an MBA to be valuable for her. If she were already at a private equity firm, and already making $500k or more, she might be best served not to go at all, though it’s impossible to predict what benefits the MBA might bring down the road. Who knows—a Harvard MBA might even make you President! By the way, did you see that W’s personal assistant was admitted to HBS this year, despite not having graduated from college? Dated W’s daughter, got the job, heading to HBS. Wow.

Not everyone, of course, is like Karen. Consider the case of Dave, who is 28 years old and has spent the last 5 years working for a boutique ad agency in LA, where he now makes $65k per year (let’s say his average compensation over the next two years, after raises, would come out to $75k per year). Dave wants to transition into finance, and has been accepted to a school commonly perceived as being in the 20-30 range—say, USC. If Dave attends USC and plays his cards right, he may be able to secure a position with an I-bank in LA that offers him a total package of around $200k per year. The increase of $125k would allow him to recoup his investment ($100k program cost plus $150k lost salary) in just 2 years. Obviously, this doesn’t account for the time value of Dave’s $75k, but the gap is still pretty large.

In terms of immediate financial impact, at least, Dave’s is clearly a much better investment than Karen’s. An MBA, in fact, can be extremely valuable for people who are looking to break into a new industry. If you’ve been working in advertising (or any number of other industries) but would like to transition into finance, an MBA could be exactly what you need to open doors that might otherwise be closed to you.

And what about an entrepreneur like Raj? At first glance, it might seem as if it doesn’t matter whether Raj learns at Stanford or East Nebraska Baptist Tech, so long as he gets the knowledge he needs to build his business. But what if having Stanford in his business plan helps him secure $2 million in financing for his startup? How valuable would his MBA be then?

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that for some people, the immediate value of an MBA is pre-determined and built in. If your company is willing to pay the cost of your program, and/or offers you a specific promotion and raise upon completing your degree, it’s relatively easy to assess the degree’s immediate value. Even in this case, however, the MBA may bring unanticipated future benefits.

The bottom line is this: deciding whether to attend b-school is a matter of balancing opportunity and cost. You might begin by asking the following questions:



Where do I hope to be in 3-5 years (income, location, etc.)?
How does an MBA help me get there?
Do I need to go to a particular school (or kind of school) to get there?
Are there constraints such as relocation, raising children, etc. influencing which b-schools I’d be willing (or able) to attend?
Can I get there without an MBA?
Have I secured admission to the b-school of my choice by recently dating George W. Bush’s daughter?
How much am I willing to spend on the application/admissions process?
How much am I willing to sacrifice in the near short-term in exchange for potential long-term gains?

A final word about value: Many people determine the value of an MBA (as they should) by the quantity and quality of doors it opens. The top schools are the ones that open the top doors (Goldman, McKinsey, and the HF/PE firms are typically held up as the gold standard). Students that get into Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton and then go on to these firms are perceived as the “rock stars,” and it is commonly suggested that anyone outside of this elite group will not be at the forefront of business leadership in the future. However, the truth is that only 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs (and only 35% of Fortune 100 CEOs) have MBAs at all. Only 4 of the Forbes 400 top 50 have MBAs. Several true rock stars, like Gates, Dell, Jobs, and James Cayne ( CEO of Bear Stearns), didn’t even finish college. Food for thought. Could it be that H/S/W MBAs are second-tier on the “rock star” scale behind those geniuses that are capable of making millions (or billions) without an MBA? There is no question that an MBA can open doors, and that top schools open more doors than others. But it is clearly not the case that an MBA at a top school is an absolute prerequisite for business success.
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New post 30 Nov 2007, 15:22
Hi bmwhype2:

Thank you for the response. My reasons for getting an MBA in the future isn't solely based on monetary value added. I, too, know many bankers, especially at boutique shops, who don't seem to want/need an MBA and they are advancing just fine.

I want an MBA first and foremost because finance is something I have a personal interest in. I was not able to take (many) finance courses during my undergraduate career. The strictly business classes that I did take, I was/am extremely interested in (much more than my econ classes) and I feel like B-school is an excellent opportunity to get some classroom hours on finance/management topics just for my own personal edification.

Secondly, I don't plan to stay as an economic/strategic consultant for more than a few years. My long(er) term goals are to get into PE/VC, possibly ibanking. Although I know that an MBA isn't required to go from consulting -> these positions, being able to access on-campus recruiting is extremely valuable when you're trying to find a new job (I know firsthand by participating in undergraduate on-campus recruiting). I also know that some hard finance/accounting background is helpful to catch employers' eyes.

There are also intangible benefits, such as networking and connections. Your classmates will be going to all sorts of interesting places (read: companies) and having a friend on the inside can't do anything but help in the future.

Hope this gives you guys a little more background information about myself.

Cheers!
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New post 01 Dec 2007, 09:08
This advice comes from a rookie as well...

Take the GMAT now. The score lasts for five years, so you have plenty of time to think about. Regardless of whether you use your score, you will have many more options with a stellar GMAT. Worst case scenario is you feel like a winner after you score a +700.

An MBA is so much more than the money it allows you to earn.
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New post 01 Dec 2007, 23:18
chron3k,

An undergrad senior here. Would strongly urge you to take the GMAT this year.

Gaining experience might make you a stronger candidate for the MBA, but not necessarily for the GMAT.

With the GMAT out of the way, when you are ready, you will be able to focus on critical elements such as the essays.

Good luck.

chron3k wrote:
Hi all:

My first posting here. Business school is something I definitely see in my near future (read: within 5 years) and I am seeking some advice on what to do. You folks seem rather knowledgeable (and have plenty more experience than I do!)

Some background:

I'm an undergraduate senior, majoring in Economics, currently attending an Ivy, and I expect to graduate with >3.6 CGPA.

I am going to be working FT for a top economic/strategy consultancy starting next summer and plan to work there until I go to B-school. I have been told (and part of the reason I chose this position) that it places well into B-school.

I, like many of you folks, am shooting for the top tier schools.

The problem:

I have been thinking about devoting next semester to studying the GMAT and taking it in the late spring or summer. By doing this, I am able to study for the GMAT in "pure academic mode" without the distractions of a full-time working schedule.

Some of my other friends who have taken the GMAT already have advised that I hold off on studying/taking the GMAT until I am seriously thinking about applying to B-school (read: 2-3 years down the line).

What are your experiences and what would you suggest?

Any posts are more than welcome.

Thanks a bunch in advance!
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New post Updated on: 03 Dec 2007, 14:36
Raj the entrepreneur....I like the sound of that! :lol:

Take it now/soon if you can. The score lasts for 5 years, so why not get it out of the way? It's one less thing you have to worry about when application time comes around.

Originally posted by rajpdsouza on 03 Dec 2007, 14:01.
Last edited by rajpdsouza on 03 Dec 2007, 14:36, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 03 Dec 2007, 14:24
I say take it now if you have the time. I wouldn't dedicate the entire summer to it though. If I were you, I'd study hardcore for a month at the most, take the test, then go backpacking in Europe for the rest of the summer until your job starts.
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New post 27 Jun 2017, 06:37
I think it's reasonable to start study to GMAT two years before the graduation. That is the time which you need to understand all the things well.
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New post 02 Jul 2017, 11:04
Top Contributor
You're at an ideal time to be studying for the GMAT.

We wrote about this in an article: http://www.gmatpill.com/when-to-take-th ... ly-better/

At this point, you should casually study for the GMAT - perhaps with an online question bank such as the one we provide here: http://www.gmatpill.com/gmat-practice-test

Then when you get more familiar/serious with the test, you can consider registering for the test and picking a date suitable for yourself.

Sometimes picking a date will force yourself to put in the study effort.
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Re: Soon to be college grad - when to start studying/take GMAT?   [#permalink] 02 Jul 2017, 11:04
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