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Why MBA?

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Joined: 04 Dec 2002
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Why MBA?  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2018, 06:36

Why MBA?

This fall, every MBA applicant will be answering this question in their mind, at family gatherings, and in their business school applications. Most dread hearing it asked because they never have the perfect answer nor will it be the same every time. At first, the answer usually starts off a bit uncertain, vague, and somewhat insecure, but as time progresses and a few essay drafts are written, the explanation becomes more polished and confident. Throughout my thirteen years with GMAT Club, I have heard many explanations – anything from a career change to a fresh start after a broken relationship. As you consider your answer, I’d like to share the top 3 reasons most use to pursue a business degree and how you can stand out. Whatever you decide to put in your essays, remember that the key to getting into your first choice school and being happy there, is to be honest, passionate, and committed.

Top Reasons for getting an MBA

  • Career Change
    Changing careers or functions, such as going from IT into consulting or finance into marketing, is probably the most common reason for getting an MBA. Workers switch careers several times during their life time (2-3 times is the latest statistics) and MBA is a good and frequent path. For one, switching a career is not easy – why would anyone take a finance person to do a marketing job? Business school offers a buffer to that (taking marketing classes, getting a marketing internship, and networking with students and alumni in the field). Second, business school often allows one to “sample” careers in the safe environment of a class or a small group. Often thrown into groups with students from all walks of life, one gets the inside perspective on what many industries and jobs are like – consulting, banking, etc. Finally, a career change could also mean starting your own business or vice versa and business school could allow one to gain the missing skills or build key relationships for their future business. Many schools want to attract successful or promising entrepreneurs and sponsor business plan competitions such as the Kaplan New Venture Challenge at University of Chicago Booth School of Business.[/highlight]

    The keys to cracking this question are:
    • Outline your short-term, intermediate, and long-term career goals. Short-term goals are immediately post-MBA until about two years later; intermediate goals are about two to five years post MBA; and long-term goals are those goals from five years in the future onwards. Essays usually ask for short- and long-term goals, but awareness of your intermediate goals will help you bridge the gap between the two.
    • To be as specific as possible in your response, such as “I would like to become an IT outsourcing consultant in the United States, working for Accenture”.
    • To clearly outline your current role and how MBA will help you bridge into the new one.
    • To demonstrate understanding of the role you are planning to pursue.

  • Career Advancement
    Often people get stuck in lower/middle management in large organizations and it may take years for the next promotion. MBA is a good way to break this pattern and signal that you are ready for a stronger position in middle/senior management. For others, a promotion may be there but they are lacking management/business skills to step into it. This is the best situation to be in and a very common reason to enroll into Executive or Part-Time programs. This is a financially advantageous move if sponsored by the employer – the applicant keeps their income, gets free tuition, and is guaranteed a job after graduation in exchange for longer-term commitment. However, the common opinion is that the non-financial value of part-time programs falls short of a Full Time 2-year MBA program which allows one to focus on their career goals and dedicate themselves to self-improvement without major distractions (no, they never have pool parties in business school).

    • A common path is to paint a strong image of current/past successes, outline that you are at the limit of your career/skill-set, and the next logical step is an MBA that will open a number of doors.
    • Be realistic and avoid coming off naïve about the value of MBA and what it will give you. MBA is not a magical transformation and as the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review suggests – management is not a profession and business education is not one-size-fits-all (See “No, Management is Not a Profession” by Richard Barker, HBR 2010).

Final Recommendations:
  • After you are done answering the “Why MBA” question, the admissions committee should clearly see that you in a great need of an MBA and by declining you, they will be making a big mistake.
  • This may sound counter-intuitive but apply to your second choice schools first. Many applicants find that they write much better essays and applications after some practice
    Pick your schools carefully – only apply to the schools that you would actually attend. Ask yourself – “If I only get into school X, will I actually attend X?” This will save you time and energy.
  • Research, Research, Research. You must know everything about your top choice school – it will give you an edge in the entire application package (selecting the right recommender or performing well on the interview) and will show in your essays one way or another and will catch an eye of the admissions committee.

Top 3 Wrong Reasons for getting an MBA:

  • Replacement for work experience: Though there are MBA programs that will enroll students straight from college, most emphasize the need for work experience and require applicants to demonstrate a degree of leadership before admission. There is a reason work experience is required – it will help you better apply class knowledge, enable you to contribute to the class more, fit in with other students, and finally get a job after graduation.

  • Specific Training – getting an MBA in order to reap financial or marketing training that can be achieved faster and more effectively using other programs.

  • Figure out one’s life – yes, MBA is a break for 20 months but it is a terrible reason if all you want to do is figure out your personal life and goals. Everyone will be doing some soul-searching during the program but nobody likes a confused person without goals or purpose.

Recommended Reading:
Great book on writing business school application essays: Great Application Essays for Business School by Paul Bodine
Good overall book for business school admissions: How to Get into the Top MBA Programs by Richard Montauk
Collection of real essays with analysis: Business School Essays that Made a Difference by Princeton Review


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Re: Why MBA?  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2018, 06:42

Best user comments made in earlier version of Why MBA thread.

  • 3rd reason is the secret that you need to answer yourself ... what they call it as retrospect!! - wouldbecrazy

  • Fantastic post! I would add to the list that another major reason to do an MBA is to change location. It is extremely difficult to quit your job and move to a new country to find a job. Many times, you won't even know where to start looking! An MBA program can provide you with a structure and a safe environment to spend a year or two looking for a job in your new destination. - Ducksworth


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Re: Why MBA? &nbs [#permalink] 26 Sep 2018, 06:42
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