Applying for college is a crucial step in a person’s personal and professional developments. As an applicant, what do you hope to get out of your college years and what expectations do you want to send along with your applications? Be sure to think seriously about the environment that will be most likely to bring the best out of you:
- Know Yourself and Set Your Goals Clearly
If you haven’t decided on a college major, start taking inventory of your academic successes and interests – which were your best classes? Favorite classes? Also think about your favorite extra-curricular activities, sports, music, and even your favorite weather.
- Student Body Characteristics
Do you want to be surrounded with type-A go-getters, or coffee-shop philosophers? A highly competitive student body isn’t to everyone’s taste, and neither is a laid-back one.
- Class Size and Dynamics
What type of relationship do professors and students have with one another at your favorite schools? Large classes may mean little contact with your professors, which can be unappealing for students who want a personal relationship with their favorite academics. However, just because your favorite school is a large one, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to slip through anonymously!
- Advisory System
Will you have an advisor at your favorite school? How much do advisors guide the students’ choice of classes? Think about how much help you’ll really need – or want!
- Social Groups
How are social groups organized at your favorite school? Does Greek life dominate, or do athletics, clubs, classes, dorms, or local hangouts determine who your best college friends will be? If the social structure is different from your high school, do you think you’ll easily adjust?
- Feedback from Current Students.
What do current students really appreciate about this school? What is their biggest complaint? Are these issues you can handle?
The best way to answer all of these questions is to visit your favorite schools in advance, and keep a checklist of the most important issues for your education. If you can’t afford to visit, or the school is too far away, try to speak with as many people as you can by phone or email about the school.
A quick way of learning about university statistics is by checking out ranking websites, such as the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (www.nacacnet.org) or College Navigator (http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/). These sites can help you sort schools by tuition, scholarship/financial aid opportunities, available majors, student body demographics, sports, even the quality of campus security. Also check out books like the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which have even more information about schools, quizzes, and student testimonials.
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.
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