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June 14, 2006

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I am not sure I could ever conceivably think about quiting work to pursue an MBA full-time. I wouldn't even recommend passing up full-time work for a BS. I have not completed my BS yet (and I have been working on it for three years, full-time, after work), and I am in the upper $50Ks, approaching $60K. I have seven years of experience, straight out of high school. Experience ends up being the biggest factor in your career, once you get in and get going, so why let four years of your life go by for a BS... let alone two years for an MBA? There are so many good schools around that will let you do your MBA either part-time, full-time, online, or some other way, in two years in the evenings or something. The best online program I see, right now, is through Indiana University. They are a top 25 school, and they offer their MBA completely online, with the exception of a one-week on campus seminar each year, and it is over in two years. It is certainly more expensive than $5K, but so is $5K when you are giving up working.

If he's a pharmaceutical rep now, does he have any interest at all in pharmacy? True, he may have more qualifications for business than for pharmancy, and the schooling required for pharmacy is longer, but there is a shortage of qualified pharmacists right now. Several new Walgreen stores in our area had to delay their opening by several months as they searched for pharmacists to work in them. For people entering college now who have an aptitude for chemistry, pharmacy is a career to consider.

Every good business students know this is a simple NPV calculation. Is the increase in salary (along with any other perceived benefits he'll receive) worth the cost of the MBA program (in terms of time and money).

I too am faced with the question: to or not to?

I understand getting an MBA could boost your career & pay, but the hard part is whether it is feasible to do it full time (loss of two year salary) OR part-time (keep the salary, but don't get as much out of an MBA as full-timers).

I guess it depends on what the person wants out of the MBA. If its all about the MBA experience, having a big network base, understanding all-in-all about business then it might be worth it for them to do full-time.

However, if it’s more about getting an MBA to get exposure to business and increase opportunities then one can probably go for part time.

My point is for those that want to do an MBA I guess the focus becomes: part-time or full time (taking into consideration the importance of more money, high career levels, time, and gaining more contacts.)

Nick -- I agree with the spirit of your comment, but how would you go about placing a value on "happiness" in one job versus another?

I'd have to disagree with the full time v. part time statements. While I have not (yet) gone back for my MBA, I did finish my BS while working.

I found that the one or two unavoidable daytime classes were packed with academics. The evening courses were mostly working folks. Day class discussion was theory with most conversations starting "I saw on TV..." or "I read in XYZ...". Evening class discussion was practical with most conversations starting "At work the other day..." or "I saw in another division...". Much, much, much more valuable to me. On a similar note, getting that job after graduating (or a new, better one) is more likely to come from your working classmates than from 'Career Placement' at the university.

YMMV, but I feel that as long as you have a reasonably developed career, education during employment has a great many benefits.

I think this is excellent advice! IMO, the most important things to consider are "what do you want to do in life?" and "why?" Pursuing an MBA without clearly defined goals (and other personal skills that can't be learned in school) is counter productive. Those three letters have lost its luster, so the degree alone will NOT get you big bucks.

As an MBA graduate, I value my education and "in class" learning environment because the entire has had a positive impact on my career. Even if a person doesn't have a business background, an MBA improves your decision making, critical thinking and analytical skills. Also, the networking and industry contacts are priceless (assuming traditional classroom)!

As for part-time vs. full-time. I don't think it matters but it depends on the person's ability to juggle competing priorities. Run the numbers and determine what's best for you.

I meant to say "As an MBA graduate, I value my education and "in class" learning environment because the entire EXPERIENCE has had a positive impact on my career."

ALSO: Although I have not pursued my true salary potential (my lifestyle isn't conducive to a demanding career), the degree has opened many doors, provided many opportunities and the flexibility to choose from almost any business related career field. Recent personal experience has also proven that I'm more likely to be promoted over colleagues who have more experience but do not have the degree.

I got my MBA while working full-time - took me two years. Not really sure what I am going to do with it and it didn't really give me a pay boost, but I had nothing else going on at the time so I figured it was a good thing to do. Most MBA programs are set up to work around people working full-time, nights/weekends/internet classes.

To "Single Mom": You commented that your MBA has allowed you some great promotions over other coworkers. May I ask if you went to a well-known school for your MBA? Or is it the fact that you possess the degree itself (regardless of where it came from) that opened some doors? This is my dilemma.......

Julia

I didn't attend an Ivy league, but it is well known in the region (Univ of Balt). I don't think my promotions were based on the school, but moreso having the degree itself vs. others who did not. IMO, unless you're considering investment banking or management consulting, any accredited/reputable university is sufficient.

Single Mom:

Funny you should mention management consulting, because that's just what I'd like to get into....are you suggesting in this case that the school should be Ivy League? Or just a reputable school in general?

That depends on the situation. If you are looking to change careers, then I think an MBA has more value than if you are looking to advance in the current career you are in. It's not a pure money calculation in that case, each individual has to make the determination themselves how to value those things. It's not really "simple" but I think it's something most people do all the time, whether we realise it or not.

Julia

I'm a little biased because I didn't attend an Ivy League. Initially, I wanted to be an investment banker, interviewed and was offered the position -- so it can be done without an Ivy League education. However, studies/statistics have shown that an Ivy League graduate can demand a higher salary (assuming you're also articulate, motivated, and a critical thinker) because of the weight the name carries. Employers assume if you have an MBA from an Ivy League, you're one of the best and that's who they’re looking for when hiring a money maker. I have to admit, the Ivy League curriculum is more competitive, rigorous and demanding. So if you survive (read: complete the program) with a decent GPA, you deserve the extra accolades. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Almost everyone that gets into Ivy league programs survive them (at least in part because of how selective those programs can be) but I haven't seen any studies that should the weight of the name is what leads to higher salaries for Ivy League graduates. Considering the Ivy league schools only take the top performers in their field, and often for MBA's require significant work experience that also shows the prospective student is a top performer, you are basically talking about a group of students that are already among the best in their field, and would likely command high salaries even without an MBA.

I would guess the name value of the school is less important than the quality of the students and the networking opportunities (since you get to network specifically with people that are also top performers as well) as far as creating future value for students.

Check out this post for some thoughts on "top" schools versus others:

http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2006/04/does_an_elite_c.html

That's good info, and it also supports your recent post about going to a two year college for the first two years and then transfering to a four year school.

Nick, I agree with you. Being a top performer (not the name of the school) allows a person to demand a higher salary. Hence my reference to personal attributes: "assuming you're also articulate, motivated, and a critical thinker."

However, as a graduate enters the world of work, you have to admit the Ivy League name does carry weight throughout the person's career. It's only natural for people (students, parents, employers, society, etc.) to make assumptions and develop expectations when they see the Ivy League name.

At any rate, FMF's link above explains it best for Julia.

The name carries weight because it tells people you are a top performer. If someone was a below average performer that had the Ivy league name it would make a HUGE difference, but below average performers don't get into Ivy League schools (which is why the name carries the weight it does) so it doesn't matter. All the Ivy League name does is tell people what they would find out anyway by looking at your performance record. Basically, the reason those assumptions exist is because they are typically true.

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