If you’re planning to get an MBA you’re likely wondering if it makes sense to head to business school straight after undergrad. While there isn’t a simple answer to this quandary, we can tell you this: Getting an MBA right out of undergrad is not the right choice…most of the time.
Yes, we’re hedging, but what in this world is absolute? If you want to determine if getting an MBA immediately after your bachelor’s is the right choice for you,we recommend you keep reading.
First, let’s analyze this question through the lens of our experience as admissions experts... It’s amazing to us how many b-school prospects are laser-focused on getting an MBA immediately after graduating college. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, it is concerning when you consider that most of these MBA candidates can’t even tell us why they want to go to business school (outside of a canned answer that they may have heard from their parents, read in a magazine, or seen on the internet).
Here are some of our favorite reasons that we’ve heard on why candidates “absolutely have to” go to business school directly after undergrad… and our (frank) responses:
Because I might not go back if I don’t do it now!
Really? If you didn’t go back, it would probably be for one of two reasons: 1) You didn’t need to. (Think extremely successful entrepreneur/business person.) 2) You lacked the discipline, focus or passion for business school. Trust us — If you really want to get your MBA, you can make it happen.
Because I want to learn about business and get my MASTERS degree.
Listen - We can’t fault you for that... but this reasoning is often just your parents talking. You will certainly learn about business in business school and a Master’s degree can be a great help in your career. However, you can also learn about business on the job and get your MBA later (see point #1) with a more robust business foundation.
Because I can’t fit it in anywhere else in my long-term plan.
Anyone who comes to us with this reason is usually the type of person that has mapped out the rest of their entire life with the month and date of their wedding, what firms they will work for, how many kids they will have (including gender), their promotion timeline, and how much money they will make. Does this resonate with you? If so, it’s okay to laugh. In fact, you should laugh. Stop taking everything so seriously because — guess what folks? — Life happens.
*steps off of soapbox*
Okay, so now that we got our (expert) opinion out of the way, here a few more things to consider when deciding if an MBA straight out of undergrad is the right choice for you.
Why you should wait to get an MBA:
1. So you can save up some money.
Everyone knows that business school is expensive. Between application costs, campus visits, and tuition, the average MBA student faces six figures worth of expenses. So after four years in undergrad, most MBA prospects will benefit from working for 5+ years to build up their bank account. This is especially true if you plan to attend a 2-year program in which you won’t be able to maintain your 9-5 during your education.
2. You’ll know exactly why you need an MBA.
There’s nothing quite like real life experience when it comes to establishing long term goals. Those who go to business school straight out of undergrad are far more likely to fall into a specialty, rather than intentionally choosing one based on their personal goals. Going into your MBA with a focus in mind is the best way to ensure your degree will be valuable down the road.
3. You’ll get into a better program.
Business school admissions officers value work experience. Period. This isn’t to say you can’t get into a competitive MBA program straight out of undergrad, but we can tell you that you’ll increase your chances by bulking up your resume before you apply. Having real life experience will not only help you stand out on paper, it will benefit you in many other areas of the MBA admissions process and throughout your education.
When it might make sense to get an MBA right after undergrad:
If your employer is paying for it.
This one applies to those who are open to attending part-time programs. If you plan to work while completing your MBA, check in to see if your employer offers education benefits. While you may not be able to score an entirely free education, many Fortune 500 companies do offer some assistance. First, find out what benefits you might qualify for and then do plenty of research. It’s possible you might be able to find a program that makes sense financially.
You’re certain you’ll receive a good return on investment.
Calculate your return on investment by calculating the total cost of getting an MBA and how long it will take you to earn that money back. Remember: getting your MBA is not necessarily a fast track to an impressive salary. Be sure to do your research on different programs and the investment required. In general, the ROI of MBAs tend to improve after some work experience, but it is possible to find your perfect program right after undergrad. We’re not saying it doesn’t happen.
You are attending a joint program.
It may be a little too late for this one… If you’re well into your undergrad degree, stop reading now. However, if you’ve yet to decide your route for undergrad, it is possible to attend a joint undergrad and graduate school program. Keep in mind that this might not be the best route for certain long term goals so be sure you do plenty of research to determine what makes the most sense for your future career.
A few final thoughts…
The experts at Admit.me share your love for school: The beautiful campus, intellectual stimulation, collegial atmosphere, feeling that you can take over the world, and of course, your favorite liquid happiness aplenty…typically on Thursdays (the best day to visit a business school campus – obviously).
We also share your apprehension for actually entering the real world: bills, alarms, dress codes, bosses with bad breath, and traffic. That being said, unlike undergrad (where you had to go to college after high school or your parents were going to kill you), there’s no set time frame for business school, so you should go when you are ready.
Above all, be sure to take your time while making this decision. Don’t feel pressured to go to business school right out of undergrad if you’re not convinced it’s what is best for you. Waiting to get your MBA could be the key to a successful future - you just need to be patient!