Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The best deal in career advancement

During a conversation with one of the (undergraduate) coops at work, we got to talking about grad school. I'm not out of the closet on going back to school with the people at work because it's well in the future and would adversely affect my career up to the point I decide to leave. Still, when talking, he said he was interested in getting an MBA sometime in the future, and I couldn't help but offer some advice. Graduating next year, I decided to let him in on the best kept secret of MBA admissions:

Apply while you're still in college.

Most college seniors don't really know what they want to do with their lives, which would make many discourage this as a foolhardy pursuit. The GMAT alone costs $250 for one try and could be compounded with multiple testing, or the multitudes of prep courses and books available to "boost your score". Still, I say, save up, study hard, and take the GMAT during the fall before you graduate.


Many schools waive or reduce their fee for college seniors, meaning that applying to five top-tier schools, which could regularly cost $1000 or more could end up costing less than half. Further, this could help your applications in the future, as many schools will even tell you what your weaknesses are if you're rejected, but only as a college student. For those of you in a non-traditional career, applying as a college senior, then applying again to the same schools a few years later will help show a commitment to business and a clarity of vision. For those of you in a more typical career path, it certainly couldn't hurt. Lastly, if you do get accepted as a college senior, you don't even have to go immediately. Many prominent offices of admission will offer deferred or postponed admission, meaning you could have a few years to find out what you want to do without the risk of not getting into grad school.

All in all, it's a pretty good deal. I wonder why more people don't do it.


Yacine said...

I just recently completed my undergrad and would like to go to grad school in the near future, but I didn't apply during my senior year because every program that I looked at wanted two years of post-grad work experience minimum. I'll apply in a few years and work on other "projects" in order to boost my resume in the meantime. I don't know much about your background, but have you found the same restrictions from MBA programs you've looked at?

Kimble said...

There are a lot of programs that claim a 2+ year work requirement, but that is slowly changing. Back in the 60's and 70's the majority of students were directly out of undergrad, but as the programs became more competitive, the work requirement became normal. Harvard, for instance, has started to increase the number of students it takes directly from undergrad again. Stanford emphasizes readiness rather than strict work requirements. On the other side, Kellogg still seems to suggest not bothering if you don't have substantial work experience. Look into the schools that you think fit you and they will likely include their expectations about experience in the FAQ.

Good luck!