Business School

Business school is a very expensive endeavor, in terms of both cost and potential lost income, so consider carefully its return on investment given your career goals. Review the information below and consider scheduling an appointment with the Career Center’s Business Advisor, Anne Laskowski, before you get started.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions regarding business school:

  • When to Attend?

    Business school is a very expensive place to “find yourself.” Admissions offices are looking for evidence of a clear career direction in your essays, and the recruiting process for jobs and internships begins almost immediately upon your arrival on campus. The bottom line: Know what you want to do with your degree before you apply.

    In terms of ROI, the sweet spot for pursuing a traditional, full time MBA program is about 3-5 years out of college. Any less work experience and you will be at a disadvantage relative to your peers on the job market; too much more and the lost income may be too much to bear.

    If you are still in school but committed to getting an MBA, consider a deferred admission option like Harvard’s 2x2 Program and Stanford’s Deferred Enrollment

  • What School?

    Some important things to consider when selecting schools:

    Who recruits at the school? Some organizations, even industries, are extremely difficult to break into without a degree from a school that they have targeted for recruiting. If you have your heart set on McKinsey, make sure they recruit from the programs you’ve targeted. Investment banking, private equity, and venture capital are all very competitive even with a top flight degree.

    What are the School’s Career Outcomes? Ask these questions of the career office, not admissions. This information is often available via their web site, and it’s not uncommon for a career office representative to be at admissions functions. Various rankings organizations like US News and BusinessWeek also take recruiting information into account.

    Fulltime vs. Part-time? If you are hoping to change careers, you will need the dedicated focus and networking and recruiting opportunities of a well-regarded full time program. Part time programs are a great way to save money, as you don’t have to take out loans to pay the rent, but are best pursued by those who wish to stay in their current functional area of business. If that is the case, you can use your current role as a platform to build your networking contacts and resume. But if you’re looking at getting away from corporate finance to pursue brand management, you’ll need the time and recruiting opportunities a full time program affords. In addition, recruiters are more open to career changers if they

    Resources for comparing Schools:

  • GMAT

    When to take the GMAT? Your scores from the GMAT are valid for up to five years. It could be advantageous to take the GMAT your senior year if you have the time and believe business school might be in your future, as you are in the studying mindset and certain math concepts are fresher in your mind.

    GMAT vs. GRE: More and more business programs are accepting the GRE in lieu of the GMAT, so if you’ve already taken it and gotten good scores, or you’re scoring better on GRE sample tests, check to see if your target schools will accept it.

    Test prep resources:

  • Will my employer pay for it?

    While increasingly rare, some organizations allow high performing employees to take a leave of absence to pursue a graduate business degree full time, and will cover your tuition as long as you come back to the firm for a set period of time after graduation. Others may offer some level of tuition assistance to take courses toward a degree at night. If you know you wish to stay with your company, it’s worth checking out these benefits.

  • Who are the best candidates?

    Business schools accept students from all backgrounds, from non-profits to political activists. It matters less in terms of where you work (of course having a job is important) and more about how well you are doing in what you do. If your goal of getting an MBA is to change careers, make sure you have a compelling reason as to why. No matter what you want to do, schools want to make sure you have a clear idea of how and why you need an MBA to get there. 

    Can you demonstrate both quantitative and people skills?
    Business school curricula are often built around teamwork, so you’ll need to convince the admission committee that you can play well with others. Highlight examples of teamwork and leadership in your essay, and ask reference writers to emphasize them as well. At the same time, they need to know that you can pass financial accounting, so if your transcript lacks quantitative coursework consider taking a class in accounting or statistics before you apply. Getting strong grades in classes taken well after graduation can also help mitigate a lower-than-average undergraduate GPA, particularly if you have strong work experience and are several years out of school.