Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How do you know if this is the right time to get an MBA?

From finances to geography to career interests to partners, there are lots of variables to account for when trying to determine the best time to get an MBA. While not the case for everyone, I spent several years considering an MBA. Three months after undergraduate, I found myself in Boston for work and I decided to attend an HBS information session. I felt confident that my undergraduate leadership experience and newly minted associate consultant title made me a viable candidate for the program. Five minutes in to my class visit I was invigorated by the discussion and at the same it hit me that I had nothing to say about any of it. I decided then that I would not apply for my MBA until I felt that I had as much to contribute as I expected to gain.

For the next 3 years, I analyzed the MBA through Forte and school presentations, learning about the differences between programs and homing in on my motivations for going. In 2008 I finally felt ready and after twelve weeks of GMAT prep I obtained my target score! Unfortunately, it was the same week that Lehman Brothers dissolved and the world and everything I knew about business changed. With a cloud of uncertainty over the world, I headed out for my first school-visit the next weekend. Despite a great visit, I came home to discover that my personal financial position had drastically changed and I realized the debt I planned to incur for B-school would only make my situation worse. I made the decision to postpone applying for one more year and spent time saving money and evaluating what B-school meant in the new environment. Over the course of the year, I learned more in my job about making difficult business decisions than any time in my career and more about my personal motivations for getting an MBA than I had in the prior four years of research.

The following fall, with a realigned focus and greater financial security, the time was finally right and my confidence in my decision allowed me to secure admission at my top choice. An MBA is a personal decision with lots of considerations both internal and external. Taking your time to evaluate the decision from all angles will guarantee that when the time is right you have the time of your life!

Emily Cangie, Forte Fellow
MBA Class of 2012 at Stern School of Business at New York University

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