Why Should I Get an MBA?

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Friday, October 7, 2016
By Barbara Coward
While the MBA degree often increases salary potential, it can also improve control over your career, critical thinking skills, and networking opportunities.

It’s a question every prospective MBA student asks at some point or another when considering a graduate degree. For some, it’s a question of whether to give up the security of a full-time job for the chance to change a career path. For others, it’s a matter of finding the time to fit in part-time studies in order to increase income or move up the ladder faster.

And there are a lot of other motivations, as well. Maybe you’re bored in your current job. Maybe you feel stuck. Maybe you just know there is something better out there for you—although you aren’t exactly sure what that is.

Like many major life decisions, this one also involves and affects those who are closest to you: family, friends, and colleagues. And that makes the choice all the more complicated.

It’s no wonder that the whole process can feel overwhelming at times. So there’s that temptation, when wrestling with any big decision, to just put it off. To think about it later. To get started when the timing is right. Or to wait until you really have to do it.

The problem with that logic, however, is that you don’t know what you’re missing, or what value you could be gaining in the meantime.

The MBA Salary Numbers Add Up

So perhaps you research a lot of statistics on why an MBA provides value:

Now you can make a data-driven decision and calculate some cost-benefit ratios.

MBA Value Beyond the Numbers

But there’s another important part of ROI that tends to get overlooked. What price do you place on happiness? What price do you put on waking up on a Monday morning and being excited to start the work week? What price do you apply to the satisfaction of using your talents to make a difference in the world?

The value of a graduate business degree goes far beyond the numbers.

1. More Control Over Your Career

The pace of change in today’s workplace is unprecedented. According to the World Economic Forum, “65 percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t exist yet.” What new opportunities could be around the corner for you? You want to be sure to set yourself up with the credentials to take advantage of these opportunities when they come about. Even if you aren’t working directly with new technologies or new industries, you need to be able to understand how business works in general and be able to lead others working in those roles. An MBA helps you understand the concept of change management and thrive in an uncertain world.

Even if you want to stay in your current career and feel secure and settled, things can change in a heartbeat. A company gets sold. A reorganization happens. A new boss comes in. Instead of things happening to you, you can make things happen for you.

With an MBA, you have more skills. You have a wider network. You have more options.

2. Sharpened Critical Thinking Skills

There’s something that happens when you read and analyze case studies throughout the course of the MBA curriculum. You become very adept at looking at scenarios, often with incomplete information or conflicting data, to size them up quickly and determine a course of action.

Think of how many decisions you make every day in your professional and even personal life. Imagine all the decisions you will come across in your future, such as buying a home, choosing a relationship, or evaluating treatment options from different doctors. Some of these decisions will have a big impact, and the cost of a mistake can be significant.

An MBA strengthens your critical thinking skills. You start to make connections between data points. You think more strategically. You see the implications of your decisions on others. You are able to appreciate different perspectives.

In class, you will be expected to articulate your opinions and make solid arguments. This can help you in all sorts of situations from negotiating a raise to figuring out whether it’s worth the risk to uproot your family and relocate across the country for a new job.

We tend to think of the value of the MBA in the professional realm. Don’t forget the benefit to your personal life, as well.

3. The Impact of One Person

Right now, you know all of the people you know. But who is that one person in your future who could change your life in ways you can’t even imagine? It could be a supportive faculty member who gives you the confidence to go after your dreams. It could be a classmate who helps you make the leap to entrepreneurship—together. It could be a new friend who not only shares professional goals and networks but also increases your life happiness.

And because business school involves both give and take, you could make a huge difference in the life of just one person—or many. An increasing number of professionals are turning to the MBA to tackle big problems in society at large, such as world hunger. On a smaller scale, one startup founded by an MBA alum caters to busy professionals by serving up home-cooked, healthy meals. Just think about the difference that makes to a time-pressed single parent who would rather spend time helping a child with homework than in the grocery store line.

And there’s one more recent statistic to ponder: Nine in 10 graduate management alumni would pursue their degree all over again. That means they would endure the challenges of writing papers, preparing presentations, taking exams—and figuring out how to fund their MBA degree and balance a personal life—all over again. So if one question you’re considering is, “Will it be easy?” The answer is likely no. But will it be worth it? Survey says: yes.

Barbara Coward
Founder, Enrollment Strategies
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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