Why an MBA

This section highlights the “reasons why” to attain an MBA program. It is divided into the following sections

  1. Advantages
  2. Admission
  3. How to select a school

We hope you’ll enjoy the reading! 

MBA programs are offered by the most prestigious universities of the world. The title is one of the most recognized in the business world, and tipically offers a range of advantages:

  • Opportunities to change careers: the amount of business cases, business discussions, business classes concentrated into the tipical 2-year MBA is unmatched and allows even career-changers to engage in compelling debates on almost any business issue
  • Opportunities for career advancement: several corporations hire MBAs in positions that are more senior than their pre-MBA counterparts with same age and experience
  • Improved earning potential: besides a faster career progression, several MBA programs allow its graduates to enjoy an increase of up to 80-130% in total compensation
  • Great network: As an MBA student or alumn you have great networking opportunities with colleagues (future high level managers) from any industry or geography, as well as with professors (often former or current business people, tipically well connected)
  • Cutting-edge know-how: the close relationship between business schools and the business world provide students with a keen understanding of the latest technological, leadership and corporate administration developments, as well as easy access to opinion-makers and experts 

Many schools offer more than one deadline, referred to as “rounds”, usually in the first few months of the year. It is strongly recommended that you send in your application during the first round, or well in advance of the final deadline.

Admissions

Process and Timeline
Admission into an MBA program requires a significant amount of preparation. The requirements and deadlines for each MBA vary from school to school, and are specified on the Application Form.

Tests
Admission tests have become increasingly important. This is due to the rising number of applicants and because the tests represent the only portion of the application process that is instantly quantifiable and objectively comparable.

* TOEFL (www.toefl.org)
The Test of English as a Foreign Language is a test designed to evaluate an individual’s ability to comprehend and analyze the English language. If you’re starting out with a good knowledge of English, you should plan on spending about 3-5 weeks reviewing test preparation materials in order to get a high score. There are many schools that offer test preparation classes and there are numerous guide books.

* GMAT (www.gmac.com)
The Graduate Management Admission Test is a test of quantitative skills and reasoning. The test is comprised of two main portions, the Verbal, (which focuses on text analysis and logic), and the Quantitative, (which focuses on math skills and general quantitative reasoning / problem solving). This test can be taken at several different locations in each country. You should plan to reserve a seat in advance. A candidate with strong quantitative skills and fluent in English should plan to prepare for about 5 weeks before taking the test.
Even though most schools do not have a minimum required score, a result that is below a school’s median range can be detrimental.

Essays
It is customary for U.S. schools to require one or more essays, usually revolving around your own professional and personal experiences, values, past achievements and future goals. Essays are a crucial component of the admissions process and they must be written with great thought and effort.

Some suggestions for a good essay:

* Have a clear structure: main message at the beginning, followed by supporting themes, and then details pertaining to each theme.
* Provide original and well-written responses that are consistent with the personal profile you wish to project, or with what the school is seeking. It’s helpful to create a list of the qualities you seek to highlight and then try to include an example for each one.
* Keep it brief and to the point.
* Use concrete examples.
* Make sure you proof-read multiple times.

Interviews
Preparing for an interview for admittance to a B-school isn’t very different from preparing for any job interview, except that MBA interviews are about motivation rather than technical skills. Consequently, it is important to do the following:

* Familiarize yourself with the school, its culture, teaching methods, core classes, clubs, etc.
* Keep in mind the reasons why you prefer that particular school, and why you would be a good candidate for the school.
* Prepare in advance an answer to the most common questions: professional goals in 5 to 10 years, most notable achievements and failures, your best quality and your greatest weakness, what your co-workers and your clients would say about you, and in general, the questions posed in the essay.
* Know your own resume: be ready to explain the underlying logic behind decisions and career changes, as well as any possible inconsistencies.

* Clearly convey whether that particular school is your #1 choice.

Letters of Recommendation

* Choose wisely who your recommenders should be. The letter must present you as an exceptional candidate, so you should be absolutely certain that the person writing the letter holds this opinion of you.
* The tone of the letter must conform to American norms. It should avoid subtlety and understatements – it’s all right to be explicitly supportive when recommending a candidate for a top school.
* It’s important that the person writing the letter is someone you have worked for and who has seen you performing your regular job. In fact, it is very important that the individual writing the letter include real-life examples that demonstrate your exceptional qualities.

How to Select a School

Your Desired Specialization
Every school has one or more areas of specialization that represent its core strengths in specific fields (e.g., finance, marketing, entrepreneurship), industries (e.g., technology, financial services, manufacturing), or regions (e.g., Silicon Valley, New England, London, Continental Europe, etc). An annual ranking of business schools is published by several leading publishers; these rankings often indicate the areas of specialization for each school.

1-Year or 2-Year?
The duration of an MBA program can vary, from 10 to 16 or 21 months. Programs of greater length clearly offer the best chance to impart knowledge on students and often also allow to experience a new career during an internship. However, longer programs have greater costs, including significant opportunity costs (forfeited salary during the length of the program).

The School’s Culture
Every school has a particular approach to coursework, (working in teams or alone, study through business cases, etc.) and a predominant culture, (highly competitive or encouraging cooperation, etc.).

It is important that an applicant understand this culture and whether it’s suitable to his or her own personality and style in order to get the most satisfaction out of a program. It is also important to understand the school’s culture in order to fill out the Application Form (AF) in the best possible manner.

An applicant can get some idea about the culture of a school by visiting a school’s website and reading through the content. The best method is to speak directly with students or alumni of a school, or even visit the campus in person.

Recruiting Quality and Style

Every school has its own areas of specialization and recognized strengths, and recruiting efforts tend to focus on specific relevant industries or geographic areas. The quality of recruiting, in terms of starting salaries and the caliber of recruiters, will very and depends upon the prestige of the school.

Many of the corporations that hire a large number of students tend to focus their recruiting efforts on the top 10-15 schools.

The Likelihood of Admission

During the process of selection of schools, it is essential that you closely examine your own qualifications and those required by each school.

For example, if you compare your test scores, (the GMAT in particular), to those of the average student accepted at each school, this should give you an immediate idea of your own chances of acceptance.

How Much It Costs
Attending an MBA program is extremely expensive. However, the returns on the investment can be very attractive, and several schools offer financing programs that allow you to take a loan and pay it back after the end of the MBA program. The total cost does vary, depending on whether the Masters program is for one year or for two years, and whether the school is located in an expensive city or in a less costly one. It is pretty easy to calculate the total cost for each school and city given that the necessary information is provided on the school’s website. If you opt for a 2-year program, you might be able to deduct from the total cost any income earned during summer internships (a short-term job at a company that recruits students from the school). This income is usually pretty significant, and benefits from a low level of taxation due to the lack of income for the other parts of the year.