One question I have been asked a lot by subordinates, interns, and friends considering a MBA, is whether or not they should make the jump right after undergraduate. This is a very good question to ask, and if you are considering going from an undergraduate degree straight to a MBA there are some things you need to consider.
I personally went from Bachelors degree to the MBA program. Looking back on this process now, I certainly would have done things differently. The following g outlines hurdles I experienced along the way taking the process of bachalors degree to full-time MBA.
First: Work Experience
Work experience is first and foremost what employers are looking for when considering candidates. Going straight from a Bachelors to a MBA lessens the chance you will be able to gain valuable work experience, specifically if you go into a full-time MBA program, the common practice of Bachelors to MBA students.
Resolution: I suggest you consider finding a job, entry level in a field of interest, or with a company that you could see yourself staying with for at least two years. While in this position, find a mentor who is in a position you would like to be in and see if you can collaborate with them. Learn how they got to where there are and practice mirroring their work habits. Finding a successful mentor is key to gaining experience.
Next, look for companies that offer tuition reimbursement. It is important that the company reimburses tuition for MBA programs. I worked for one of the largest insurance companies in the world in the claims department. Though my MBA was very helpful to my position, it was not directly applicable to the job description. There were two fellow claims representatives who requested tuition reimbursement for a MBA degree. They were both denied because a MBA was not directly applicable to the position. This is something that must be considered if your are looking to get tuition reimbursement; Does the education directly apply to the position or does it make sense for the company to foot the bill?
A second option if considering the jump from Bachelors to MBA is to enter a part-time program. This option can pay off in two ways. First, if your schedule allows, you can work during the day and take a few classes in the evening. This will however take discipline and good time management skills (something employers look for). Second evening class generally have students who are currently in the work force and will have much more applicable examples to discuss in class.
I personally went from Bachelors to a full-time MBA and where 90% of my fellow students have taken the same route. The in-class examples from fellow students were for the most part weak and did not directly to apply to the concepts at hand. I did take a few night classes in order to speed up the time spent in the program. In these classes the quality of real life examples pertaining to the subject was greatly increased and I learned a lot more from my fellow students in comparison to day time courses.
Second: Your Reason for Wanting a MBA
The next thing to consider when thinking about going from a Bachelors Degree to MBA, is knowing why you want an MBA. Do you have a specific job in mind that requires a MBA? What is the real reason for considering a MBA? I was guilty of not knowing exactly why I wanted a MBA. My reasons were: I want a job with more money and responsibility, I have a passion for business (I call it an entrepreneurial spirit), and I had a goal of owning my own business one day.
However, what I didn't consider where direct career goals and objectives that require a MBA. For example, I had no clue what field, or even an ideal job description was for me. After talking to a leadership coach, and a career council, I realized I needed to figure this out.
Resolution: I suggest, if you are in the decision process to go from BA to MBA, you write out an example job description for your ideal position. Next, either work with a career councilor or utilize Google, to find similar job description and see what type of education is required for the position. In my experience, if I came across a job with the keyword Master of Business Administration or MBA, the job also required 5+ years of experience.
By considering the purpose of your choice to go from a undergraduate program to a MBA program, you may realize your decision is not based on applicable reasons. When making the decision, make sure the progression from undergraduate to graduate school is a natural progression and required in your ideal position. A MBA program is not a cheap decision to make, which brings me to my next point.
Third: The Cost
Finally, can you afford a MBA? It is very expensive to get a MBA, especially it you look at the aggregate cost. For this I will consider a full-time student straight from a Bachelors program.
The first thing to consider is your student loans for your undergraduate program (if you took them). By being a full-time student you can defer your loans, but interest keeps building on your loans. Ergo, you are increasing your payback amount. The average cost of a full time MBA program is $40,000. If you get student loans for the program you will add these to your current loan sum. Next, you most likely will not be earning income while in the program, meaning all cost will have interest (using credit cards).
But wait you say, I got offered a scholarship or fellowship, and my tuition is paid. To that i say in all sincerity well done, but you will still have to pay in the aggregate. You will not be earning substantial income, you will most likely have to pay room and board, buy food, supplies, and entertain yourself (the much need happy hour with your fellow classmates), you won't be paying off your undergrad loans, and above all you will not be earning income that allows you to save, and to the first point, gain experience.
Resolution: Plain and simple, truly consider the net cost of starting your MBA directly after earning your undergraduate degree. Are you in the position to take on more debt, without the certainty of landing a job in two-more years.
These are just three of the many points to consider when making the decision to go from a undergraduate degree to a MBA. These three items were selected, because at the time I made the decision, I did not take these items into account. I thought I would be able to submit my resume to a few companies, and I would get a call back, boy was I wrong. I though, hey I got a fellowship, and do not have to pay a dime of tuition, again wrong. It cost me a lot of money over the two years to be in the MBA program.
Feel free to leave any comments or ask me any questions if you are in the middle of this decision process!