Is it really worth getting an MBA? Answering this question can be intimidating; it takes years finish a full time program, and it will cost you up to $150,000 in debt.
In order to decide whether or not it’s worth getting an MBA, don’t think about business schools first. Think about yourself and what you want to do with your life. What are your long-term goals? Do you think your long-term goals would benefit from an MBA? If you want to basket weave in the Alps for the rest of your live, then I wouldn’t recommend business school. However, if want to make turn your love of Alpine basket weaving into a multinational business empire, then maybe an MBA would be worth it. This might require a little research on your part, to see if your desired career path has a history of business school grads. Investment banking and consulting are obviously filled with them, and nowadays even the entertainment and fashion have opened their doors to MBAs.
Now it’s time to check out what you can learn and accomplish at business school. A solid business program should provide its students with at least a basic knowledge of finance, accounting and operations as well as the skills to tackle the multi-layered issues in strategy and management. On top of the academics, business schools will provide you with improved career opportunities; companies visit campus to recruit, or they will at least post jobs on the schools’ job boards. Students can also take advantage of extensive alumni contacts, and, when all else fails, wave their fancy MBA degree in employers’ faces (not necessarily the best thing to do). Are these tools usable to you? Or can you do just fine on your own without them?
We’ve just discussed the benefits of getting an MBA. Now we need to look at the costs. In the long run, an MBA may sound like a great idea, but acquiring it (in a full-time program) will take up two years of your life. During those two years, you can have a great experience, but you’re also making a great sacrifice. I know students who left their spouses on the other side of the USA or even the other side of the Atlantic to go to business school. And the majority of your day will be spent on campus at class, working with your classmates or participating in one the many clubs active at your school. In other words, you will neglect a large part of your old life. Given the benefits we’ve covered, you have to ask yourself if this sacrifice is worth it to you.
Lastly, there’s the money you’ll spend on getting an MBA. It’s expensive. Two years may be OK to you, but you’ll be accruing over $100,000 in student loans. If your future job will rake the money in, then this might not be an issue. However, if you’re planning on a career in nonprofits, you may not get the kind of salary that can pay off your loan in this lifetime. Fortunately, there are several excellent business schools that offer debt forgiveness for students that go into the nonprofit sector. They are definitely worth checking out.
In the end, the answer to this question depends on who is asking. Before you can figure out whether or not an MBA is worth it, you need to take a good look at where want to go and if business school will truly help you get there. Good luck.