Is Postgraduate Study right for you?
How do you decide is an MBA is the right choice?
Okay so I think the best place will be to start with a bit about me to add some context about why I wanted to tell you about your decision to go into postgraduate study and in particular the MBA.
I come from an average childhood my father descends from a very small island out in the South Atlantic. Coming to England with very little he was always a step behind but had the will power and strength to always provide for his family.
Myself on the other hand was given everything needed, born with a brain and intellect although highly frustrated in the dead-end working class environment that I longed to escape.
So after leaving school being from my background I wasnt encouraged to go to college and study A-levels but got an apprenticeship in what was a low-level IT company. Eventually (long story) I went to university and got my degree.
This degree came from a little known university that didn't even place in the top 100 universities in the UK.
After I left Uni I spent a few years in quite low paying jobs and decided I wanted better and I had always let myself down with what I knew I could achieve.
So what did i want to do. I had never really heard of what Post-Graduate courses were out there but I knew what I enjoyed
- Decision Making
All of these are all very good but they don't really point to any vocation or give me anything that I necessarily could say "yes" that is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
So I stumbled across an advert for an MBA Masters Business Administration.
The first thing I learned about the MBA is the difference between this and the MSc is that it is more generic giving you the ability to focus on a wider breadth of subjects rather than spending all your time studying something you may not ultimately want to do as a career.
What is needed to get on the MBA course?
An MBA is a business degree taught at postgraduate level (after you finish your undergraduate degree).
The entry requirements for an MBA vary widely. Most MBA's good undergraduate classification and at least 2 years relevant post-graduate experience. Relevant Post-Graduate experience usually means experience in a professional/business/management capacity.
Depending on the ranking of the Business School (we will discuss ranking later) there may be a requirement to complete an exam. This exam is called the GMAT a quick bit of research will explain what this exam is and what it entails (the GMAT is not to be taken likely). Most UK universities will also expect overseas student to complete an english exam like TOEFL.
Finally if you get past the above we have the small matter of paying the cost of the fees. Ever wonder why the rich stay rich? The MBA is an exclusive cost and fees can range from a few thousand up to £60,000 pounds a year in the UK and even higher than this in other countries.
So is an MBA worth it?
An MBA teaches you a number if different streams and today some MBA's focus on certain areas of business.
In my MBA I have studied
- Organisational behaviour
- Management Accounting
- Practise of Strategy
- Global Sourcing
So as you can see a whole plethora of interesting areas of study available, some of these are mandatory and some elective.
For personal development I have found the MBA invaluable it has taught me to be objective about the world and the world around me. It has also improved my confidence in that I now feel my opinion is educated and informed. Has it provided £20,000 worth of personal development..... Probably not!
Networking, if you go to any MBA site they will often rattle on about networking and how it is the most important aspect of the MBA. This may well be true for some but because of my mode of study and personality I think I will probably leave with maybe one or two friends so this aspect hasn't really worked for me. I have however come across some other students in my working life and you do find a kinship with other people who have undertaken the course and had to go through the stresses and strains!
ROI, Return on Investment is often touted as one of the best reasons to study an MBA. You may invest 30,000 now but how much will it pay back in your future earnings? Many universities will have you believe that your salary will increase around 100% after 3 years. As I am yet to complete mine I am unable to comment on this statistic. When looking at this you also need to ask yourself if you hadn't done the MBA but knuckled down at work and spent that time working extra hours for example how quickly could you have progressed? Also by taking time out of work you are also stalling your progression so how far could you of progressed without studying?
What Business School?
So what business school should you go to? I think this is the most important aspect when deciding on which MBA you will choose.
The first point in deciding is looking at your mode of study and your financial situation. As I had no savings and couldn't look to my parents for support I was really pushed into one option. The 3 options that I have come across are
Full time: Probably the best way to study if you can afford it. You get to fully submerge yourself into the world of the MBA. Living back at Uni, working with like-minded people and really getting the chance to show your full potential.
Part Time: Weekends are usually spent studying in class around you peers whilst you are given the week to do your day job. This still allows you to build relationships and have regular contact with tutors.
Distance Learning: Yes you guessed it. This is the route I took. Distance learning is good for me as you can fit it around your own time. I struggle because I am not very disciplined and always end up cramming the last few weeks but have yet to fail a module (which is a minor miracle in itself). Distance learning also is vastly cheaper and as it is over a few years you can spread the cost. It enables students that wouldn't of otherwise been able to study to have the opportunity.
I have left this hotly debated topic to last. MBA rankings are discussed over and over on the web and through some major publications.
The Financial Times and Business week are probably the biggest ranking publications. In general business schools are place in tiers. Int he UK the top-tier is
- London Business School
- Oxford Said
- Cambridge Judge
There is then the second tier which usually consists of some of the below
The second tiers are hotly disputed and this is a general guide so don't shoot me down if you disagree. I believe if you are going to spend all that money on an MBA it is important the school has a good reputation. In some ways it supersedes any educational work you have done before so you may as well go out with a bang!