Why an MBA Is a Good Use of Time and Money

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We recently read an article that listed seven reasons why the author thinks you don’t need to go to business school.

Going to business school is clearly a major commitment of an individual’s time, energy, and resources. It’s a complex decision, and there’s no right answer that applies to every person. To balance the aforementioned article, we asked Chris Ryan, our Director of Product and Instructor Development, who has his MBA from Fuqua, to give us seven good reasons that business school is still worthwhile. He gave us eight for good measure:

1. The Connections You Build in Business School Will Help You Throughout Your Career

Connections and networking are a huge part of the appeal of business school for many potential applicants. Many ventures, from Revolution Foods Inc., bringing healthy lunches to schools, to Brooklyn Boulders, New York’s largest rock-climbing gym, to BuddyTV, an up-and-coming entertainment website, have been started by people who met in business school.

In fact, our very own Eric Caballero, graduate of Sloan, has found his MBA network indispensable during his career:

I tap my network constantly, hunting for angel investors, marquee clients, channel partners and executive recruits. So long as you understand Networking 101 “ never ask a favor without offering a greater, specific one in return “ you should find your network ready to help. Ironically, the benefits do not end with your professional life. I once contacted an MIT alum, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of a major U.S. airline, to discuss a frustrating customer service issue with my honeymoon flights. He helped me cut through a forest of red tape in half an hour.

2. The Skills You Learn at Business School Cannot be Taught in Books

For some, like Chris, the most instrumental skills learned at business school include how to be a good leader and a good team player. Chris could lead a class of high-school students, but business school taught him how to relate to and lead his own peers in a way he would not have developed otherwise. Sure, you could learn economic theory and business management from books, but when you get your MBA, you’re learning them within the context of an environment that helps shape who you are and helps you become who you want to be.

3. Going to B-school Helps You Figure Out What You’re Good At

From the very first time you look at your application essay questions, business school forces you to make decisions about who you want to become and what you want to do. Even the process of applying helps you clarify your goals, because you have to discuss them in a convincing way.

In addition, business school helps round you out as a person. For example, many schools will film you while you present. They then make you review and improve your presentation skills by going over the video with a coach. “From what I hear, that doesn’t happen in law school,” says Chris.

4. Business School Can Be Useful for People at Any Age

Chris began his career teaching high school students, but chose to change fields in his 20s.  “At 28, less than a year after I was teaching physics, I was a management consulting intern at McKinsey,” says Chris.  “This would not have been possible without business school.”

But even if you aren’t switching careers, business school can still help you focus your career path, restructure and move ahead at a faster pace. A businessman who had worked in large companies, Dave Bosher, who graduated from the University of Richmond MBA program, noted: “The MBA program is a great way to round out your knowledge base and to take your career to the next step.”

5. Business School Broadens Your Personal Perspective and Outlook

At its best, business school forces you to learn to work with a diverse range of people in the business world. Because you are forced to make choices about your own career before you even attend, you meet people who have a variety of different goals, from traditional routes like consulting to unconventional ones like founding a new private business.

In fact, the best business schools help train you to work in diverse teams. Chris worked in a team with a student from Venezuela, and the experience helped him when he was working on a Mexican-Brazilian film post-MBA.  As a former teacher, Chris found that the opportunity to learn from “real” businessmen taught him a lot as well, and certainly the former bankers learned plenty from a physics teacher!

6. Your Business School Becomes Your Brand

The name of the school you attended will carry weight for the rest of your career. You will be able to find favors with other alums, and the name next to “MBA” will make your resume will stand out during job searches.

7. You Put Your Finger on the Pulse of the Future of the Business World:

You and your classmates will be the next class of business leaders. By virtue of being constantly surrounded by intelligent and driven individuals, you can see what the future of business will look like from a unique perspective.

It’s not just your classmates from whom you’ll learn, either. Business schools make a point of bringing in today’s business leaders. Just ask the women who started Gilt Groupe: they met at Harvard Business School and founded their online store with the help of designer Zac Posen, whom they had advised while still in business school. Or try sitting in a room with the founders of Threadless. They might not have gone to business school, but the students at MIT certainly gained a lot of insight from their background! Overall, the CEOs, founders and business bigshots you meet at b-school give you an opportunity to see the business world in a whole new light.

8. B-school can be a lot of fun:

Whether it’s making videos to show to your classmates, or wrestling with the complexities of a business case with your team, there is both real fun and geeky fun in going to school, even while you learn and shape yourself into something better.

Need more convincing? Check out Why MBA? to read why other students chose business school.

  1. Beth August 16, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Points one and five are the most important here in my opinion. Investment in a MBA pays dividends if you strike up the right connections and broaden your perspective.

  2. R September 2, 2010 at 12:28 am

    I think any author before pom pom -ing the B school propaganda should look at the current employement and loan market.