Older and more experienced candidates have different needs and desires from an MBA. Deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA involves conscious self-evaluation for all candidates and especially for experienced or older ones.
· You should take account of your personal goals. Do you want a family? What kind of life will satisfy you? Who is dependent on you and how can you best help them?
· You will want to analyze your professional goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Would you like to manage people or do you prefer fewer managerial responsibilities?
· It is important to evaluate your financial goals. What kind of salary do you desire? How will an MBA help you achieve it? How will you finance your education? Are you comfortable with educational loans? Can you sacrifice two years of salary in the present? When is your educational investment likely to begin to pay off? Can you wait that long?
The preceding questions may assist you in your evaluation of whether it’s too late for you or necessary for you to begin an MBA. However, it is possible to delve even further into whether an MBA will take you where you want to go. In terms of professional change, determine more precisely where you like to be. What sector, position and even corporation would you like to be working for? Also, in economic terms, where would you like to be? An MBA generally increases earning potential, but consider also where you are now and whether the degree will improve your earnings potential and worth. Recognize, in your evaluation, that an MBA may initially be an economic setback and the salary will start to pay off later down the line. Evaluate statistics on earning averages after completing an MBA at particular institutions.
At the end of the day, after evaluating all the statistics of earnings and worth, your interests in terms of professional growth and flexibility, and your personal desires, success comes down to individuals and what they make happen. It is up to you to determine whether the MBA is the right means to assist you in achieving your desired ends. Companies often claim that they do not privilege an MBA over someone with experience in the field. In both arenas, individuals learn, grow, and improve. Companies hire individuals who have been successful in the past.
An MBA, especially one later in one’s career, is most useful to individuals who would like to change sectors or positions. For example, individuals who seek to move from banking to consulting, or into management positions (in fact, these people often find their MBA most satisfying). The MBA is also useful to individuals who want to rapidly learn and attain skills needed for different positions.
In addition to the two-year MBA program, the other options to consider for individuals later in their careers are the more flexible means of attaining an MBA including online, part-time, and executive MBA programs.
Recommendations for College Students Eager to Enroll in Business School
If you are in college and interested in entering an MBA program immediately after graduation, getting accepted is not likely to be easy. Since the weak economy has put many young professionals with work experience out of jobs and many of those more mature students are applying to MBA programs, schools are less likely to be filling their classes with the less experienced. Yet, hope is not lost. This may be precisely the time to consider some alternative ways to achieve your MBA goals and bide time in school while the markets recover.
For current undergraduates as well as business school bound high school juniors and seniors, looking into various MBA options early may pay off. Universities as diverse as Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Rochester and Indiana University offer ways for students to complement their undergraduate degrees with an early MBA.
Harvard Business School allows juniors to apply to a program in which they are guaranteed a spot at HBS after they complete 2 years of work. During their junior year, applicants take the GMAT and complete an application. Applicants are notified of acceptance in the fall of their senior year. After completion of their undergraduate degree, accepted 2+2 students enter the work force. The jobs they take need to be approved by the business school. Though the HBS program does not shorten the length of time a student spends in school, both students and HBS are ultimately well served by the 2+2 program. It allows students to be able to focus on gaining work experience and enjoy the comfort of already being admitted to a top-MBA program, and the school is guaranteed a committed and experienced student.
The Kelley School of Business offers an Accounting program in which undergraduates can earn both an undergraduate degree and an MBA in just five years. This opportunity, open to juniors majoring in Accounting or Finance at Indiana, gives students the possibility of earning an MBA with an Accounting concentration in just one extra year and also relieves them of the GMAT requirement. Indiana has excellent job placement statistics and consistently pumps out solid MBAs with the high level Accounting skills valued by businesses.
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
The William E. Simon School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester offers another 5 year option for undergraduates of the University of Rochester. Interested students apply early in the spring semester of the junior year and begin MBA level coursework as seniors. Students will still need to take the GMAT in order to apply. This program is a great option for Rochester students as the University currently does not offer an undergraduate business degree. The University also offers several fellowships geared toward the more youthful aspiring MBAs, those with less than 3 years work experience interested in an MBA at Rochester.
Tepper School of Business also has opened its doors to Carnegie Mellon Computer Science majors that are interested in applying to business school and gaining an MBA and Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science in just 5 years. Applicants still will need to gain admission by submitting an application, resume, GMAT, essays, interview and recommendations, but they are offered the bonus of gaining an MBA from a top school with just one additional year of schooling. Though ultimately the Department of Computer Science determines eligibility, good grades, high scores, internships and maturity go a long way toward gaining acceptance.
Other schools too offer similar 5 year or early acceptance programs for undergraduates. So young applicants, take a closer look at alternative programs that are out there!
Many schools do recruit and encourage younger applicants to apply. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford Business School and Harvard Business School are among those with a reputation for accepting younger applicants, but many schools admit almost no young applicants (even though they claim to be interested in them). Even those schools that do accept large numbers of young applicants are quite selective in their choices. In both the application process and the experience of business school itself the younger applicant faces special hardships, which are important to be aware of.
Young applicants face several challenges in the MBA application process. They have to compensate for a lack of work experience with leadership roles, higher than average GMAT scores, higher than average GPA, even more focused career goals, recommendations showing maturity and preparedness, and uniqueness (in some manner).
Leadership experience is especially important. In essays as well as during the interview process, it is important that younger applicants show admissions officers or interviewers what leadership roles they have taken on, what they have learned in those roles, and explain with concrete examples. Younger applicants will especially want to highlight larger roles, which help to display their unique knack for leadership. Successful younger candidates can show that their uncommon leadership abilities exceed the average college student, through experiences such as being elected College President, internships in fields that recruit few undergraduates, or entrepreneurial experiences.
Business School Experience
At school, younger students sometimes experience difficulties relating to fellow students. Other business school students, who tend to be older and more experienced, come to school with different interests and home lives, as they sometimes have families and different backgrounds. These differences can cause mutual misunderstanding and ultimately limit the forming of lasting relationships and networks that many people go to business school to create.
In the classroom, younger applicants need to continue to show that they do have legitimate and interesting experiences to share and make this clear to professors. Overall, it is important that younger students keep their self-confidence in the face of older students. Younger students must respect older students for the greater breadth of experience that comes from spending time in the “real world,” but remember too that they were accepted because of exceptional ability (however young) and do indeed have things to offer the class and the professional world.
In the job application process, younger students may have difficulties with certain career paths. Venture capital firms, for example, often seek MBAs with greater professional experience. However, consulting firms and banks are happy to recruit younger, more energetic MBAs, though they may hesitate at first to put younger MBAs in management positions.
Overall Pros and Cons
Overall the MBA experience for younger students is not an easy one. Yet despite the difficulties experienced in the application process and in study, the young applicant does have the advantage of completing the degree early—especially important to women, who later, for personal reasons, may want to take time out from the professional world. Also, it is a good path for the over achiever who is used to being among older people. Young applicants who are not so used to it should carefully select the schools they apply to according to their percentages of younger admits. Younger applicants will find themselves jump starting their careers early and may possibly be spending more of their professional lives in unique, exciting roles where they can make a greater impact.
Getting an MBA online is an increasingly popular method. The proliferation of internet access and computers has made learning outside the classroom an increasingly attractive concept, providing convenience and efficiency.
However, the most important thing to be wary of when considering an online degree is the legitimacy of the institution you are attending. Online relationships have great potential, but also present a larger possibility for falsehood and deceit. Therefore, it is especially important that those interested in attending an online program do detailed research, make direct phone calls, get answers to crucial questions, and find out what really happens to graduates.
First, do not attend a non-accredited school. Other institutions and employers will not recognize the degree and in many states it is in fact illegal. If the school’s website asserts it is accredited do a bit more research to determine if the school is accredited by a legitimate accrediting association. To determine this, check on the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It lists all recognized accrediting associations. Also Diploma Mill Police will do the research for you into the legitimacy of a program.
There are several types of schedules and timetables for online degrees, depending on the program. Some do include person-to-person classroom learning, and some are exclusively online. Determine which best suits your learning style and fits into your schedule.
Value of the Degree
Online education is a very new phenomenon, making it more risky. On paper there is no distinction between a traditional MBA and an online MBA, so in this way there is little difference. In general, it seems employers do value online degrees, recognizing that completing them is not easy, requiring discipline and commitment. Online degree completion may be especially welcomed by current employers and may promote upward advancement within a company. However, the Online MBA tends not to make it easy to move to different careers.
· Switching careers is difficult
· Networking and professional connections are generally harder to form. However, this is not true for all students. Some find little difficulty in developing long-term, even life-long online relationships.
Overall it is highly recommended that you devote a lot of time to selecting an online MBA degree program. The key to getting your money’s worth from an online program is evaluating your goals and needs, the legitimacy of the institution, and the likelihood that a particular online program will help you achieve your educational and professional goals.
Masters of Science in Economics or Finance or Accounting
The Masters of Science in Economics / Finance / Accounting is a degree for those seeking to learn specific skills relevant to economic or financial spheres. The degree is generally one-year and made up of narrowly focused courses in either economics or finance. The degree enables students to quickly develop expertise in a single field, and thus to move more quickly up the ladder in that field.
Some courses may overlap with an MBA program that has a finance concentration, but the MBA also provides more time for exploration outside of a single interest area and the development of more comprehensive leadership and management skills than the Masters of Science does. For some, the broader focus of the MBA may be helpful, for others, who already have gained management training or are interested in a PhD, or are just starting out, the Masters of Science might be a better choice.
The Masters of Science attracts people at a different point in their careers than MBA, EMBA or part-time MBA degrees.
· On average younger than the full-time MBA student, candidates are not necessarily required to have work experience. Thus it attracts more recent college graduates.
· Not as interested in learning to manage. The degree is more academically focused, teaching skills that are relevant to a particular track.
Though certainly varying from program to program and degree to degree, post-graduation many go into banking, some to economics, or development economics, and some to PhD programs.
Also of interest, in Europe the Masters of Science in Economics or Finance is considered particularly valuable and almost a more traditional path than the MBA. Graduates of Masters of Science programs are seen as skilled but also more flexible in terms of management style and thus companies can train individuals as they see fit.
The part-time MBA, like the EMBA, allows students to keep their full time jobs while attending business school. Unlike the EMBA programs, however, part-time MBA programs are designed for the less experienced professional or for those seeking to learn the necessary skills to change careers. Some part-time programs also incorporate distance-learning options making them flexible for those who travel frequently as well as for those that do not necessarily live nearby the school they attend. Schedules also differ from program to program, so you will want to find a timetable that works best for you, your family and your employer.
The most significant challenge for part-time students is changing careers. Those who do not seek to make a dramatic change are generally satisfied with their choice. However, students who want to make a more extreme change in field tend not to be as satisfied with part-time MBA study as do full-time MBA students.
Full-time MBA students have time off to engage in summer internships or take a part-time position in a different field during the school year. This increases their potential to be able to change fields. Part-time MBA students are more limited in this respect. They may necessarily have to keep the jobs they currently hold, but often find it more realistic to move into a position that combines their experience with the new interests and skills gained in the classroom.
At the same time, part-time MBA students have a lot of time. The programs, being part-time, take an extended time to complete, and thus provide additional time for students to contemplate the direction they want the degree to take. In addition, it’s important for part time students to make use of campus resources, career counseling, and career assessment tools as they move along in the process. After three or four years in a program, goals may change, so these tools should be used when evaluating the MBA process.
Part time students will need the support of their employers and families too, as both studying and working will require large time commitments.
Some part time students receive funding from their employers to complete the part time MBA. Larger companies are generally more likely to fund MBA programs. Even for those who do not receive funding from their employers, part time MBA students have a financial advantage over their full time counterparts in that they are continuing to earn money during study, often enough to cover expenses.
Some part time students who seek to change careers post-graduation will find that their salaries do not increase and may even decrease. This is because companies still hire and determine wages based on proven experience. One way to mitigate this is by seeking to combine the expertise developed in your current field with your interest in a new field. Also, money need not be the single determining factor in your post-MBA professional choice. Though many go into MBA programs seeking to improve their earnings, many also seek to change jobs. With this in mind, try to find a position that will allow you to grow and learn. Consider options that complement your long-term goals and don’t just consider your post-MBA pocketbook.
The traditional full-time MBA is not for everyone. Not everyone is able to take two full years (or one year, as is more common in Europe) out of the workforce, take out study loans, or move locations. In addition, not all those with an interest in an MBA are at the right point in their careers to commit to full-time MBA study as the best method to career enhancement or career change. Also, the traditional MBA may not provide the most appropriate training for a particular candidate to meet his or her goals. Fortunately there are other options.
The most common alternatives to the traditional MBA within the sphere of graduate business education are:
o the Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA),
o the part-time MBA,
o the online MBA, and
o the Masters of Science in Economics or Finance or Accounting.
All of these options are geared toward professionals in different career and personal situations.
An evaluation of your own goals, career experience, personal or family needs, time limitations, and financial needs will help you decide between these options and determine which is best suited to you.
EMBA programs are set up for experienced professionals. In general, programs advise having several years of experience for entering EMBA candidates. EMBA programs also are usually conducted on the weekends, or in select weeks during the year, not requiring students to quit their day jobs. Yet, despite maintaining a different clientele and calendar, the EMBA teaches students many of the same subjects and methods as the MBA.
The EMBA is ideal for the experienced candidate interested in developing his or her knowledge of business and management. If you want to develop a new expertise in a field, a part-time MBA program or a full-time MBA program is more likely to provide you with the necessary time to fulfill your career goals. In addition, if you are qualified in terms of background and experience, there is enormous benefit in an EMBA program to learn from fellow students who will share their experience and background with you. Faculty will also design their classes taking into consideration the experience of the students. Typical candidates tend to have the following profile:
· Over 30. Average age varies from program to program.
· Working full-time.
· Already in a management role.
· May already have another degree (e.g, M.S., M.D, J.D., PhD).
EMBA programs vary in terms of schedules, flexibility, and travel expectations. You will thus want to select a program that is best suited to your needs. Like MBA programs, EMBA programs also encourage and require group work. Find out how this works before you begin so that you can fit it into your schedule and make arrangements with your employer. If you have particular career goals, such as increasing your international exposure, consider global EMBA options, such as those found at Duke or the Columbia-LBS partnership, or Kellogg’s particularly strong Latin American connections. If you would like to move locations from San Francisco to New York or vice versa, for example, you may consider the Columbia-Berkeley program. If you live in Chicago and want to stay put, check out the University of Chicago’s EMBA packages.
· Time. Being in an EMBA program while working full-time will limit your free time as well as require some degree of flexibility and support on the part of your employer and possibly your family.
· Money. More often than with traditional MBA programs, many EMBA students receive funding from their employers. This trend is gradually declining, and few receive full tuition at least without a guaranteed contract after the program. This makes it important to recognize that you might have to research loan options and understand your financial needs. Note that most EMBA grads do receive a full return on their investment within four years of graduation.
The EMBA degree is increasingly attractive to people who seek to expand their horizons and much of that attraction arises not only from the education provided but from the connections and networks that are formed during the program.
The future of EMBA programs lies in continued global expansion and partnerships between US and foreign institutions. Regardless of location, programs are seeking to make their scheduling more convenient for the long distance travelers, adopting calendars where classes are not scheduled every week but are given three-to-five consecutive days a month instead.
Technology is increasingly incorporated in EMBA programs as well, with group assignments being completed through video conferencing. These programs continue to evolve with the times.
Factors to Consider – Your Own Fit
· Risk-taking & Open-minded: Anyone seeking to study abroad will need to cultivate his willingness to take risks and show eagerness to learn about new cultures and perspectives. Pursuing graduate level education outside one’s home country is unconventional. So candidates, even those studying at top European programs, are pursuing a less-traveled path and must be able to do so confidently. Confidence gained in this new setting will likely lead them to success.
· Language Skills: One thing that seems to make many candidates more successful in studying abroad is prior knowledge of other languages. Though language ability also opens doors in your home country, knowing additional languages when studying in Europe will greatly increase your professional and personal networking possibilities.
· Limited Home Country Job Connection: The main drawback for you in pursuing an MBA abroad is that if you seek immediate employment after graduation, you may find that your home contacts and networks are more limited than those of recent graduates from schools in your home country.
Beyond exploring individual programs, self-evaluation and self-inquiry into your motives for pursuing an MBA degree abroad will help you make an informed and beneficial decision. In order to become confident in the decision to study abroad, learning about the experiences of others who have studied at your chosen schools will enable you to better assess whether a particular program is right for you.
Just as finding a program in your home country that is well matched to your unique skills, personality, interests, and goals is important, it is even more important when looking into schools abroad. It’s important to research the career paths and professional backgrounds of students at programs you are interested in.
One of the main questions to ask yourself is to what degree are you willing to adapt to a new culture and new people. Also, how open are you to adapting to different academic styles. The more willing you are to adapt, the happier you will be with your decision to study in a new country.
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Thanks to everyone who entered our drawings!
There are several excellent MBA programs outside North America. European Business schools such as London Business School in the UK, IMD in Switzerland, INSEAD in France, ESADE in Spain, and RSM Erasmus in the Netherlands immediately come to mind as some of the top ranked MBA programs in the world. Although the US remains by far the primary center for MBA study (about 83% of all the GMAT score reports worldwide are sent to US-based business schools based on the GMAC’s 07 data), Europeans are increasingly choosing to study in Europe outside of their home country while Americans also start to take a serious look at schools across the Atlantic. This tendency, however, has been balanced by Asians who overwhelmingly choose to study in the US.
Why then are more students now choosing to pursue their management education abroad in a different country in Europe? Many factors contribute to this trend, such as an interest in working internationally, an interest in a particular country, the desire to learn another language or to experience a different academic atmosphere. We also listed out some crucial benefits below.
Yet, studying abroad does entail certain challenges, and some candidates are more prepared to succeed in a different cultural context as a result of their personality and professional or academic background.
Factors to Consider – Pros
· Shorter Program: European programs move at a faster pace. They are generally 1-year long, so you need to be prepared to jump right into academic work. IMD, generally ranked as the #1 program in Europe, is a rigorous 11-month program in which students do not have the opportunity to pursue an internship. So you need to be a bit more focused in terms of post-MBA goals and career pursuits.
· More Experienced Classmates: Another important consideration in terms of matching your background with European programs is that the average student age and years of professional experience is higher at European schools than in US schools. Older candidates tend to find this attractive, while younger ones may feel slightly out of place or experience increased difficulty gaining admission.
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