A while back, I shared with you the story of a student cobbling together a top tier MBA for little to no cost aka the “No Pay MBA”. I had some reservations that make-shift MBAs would gain mainstream traction, but several people insisted this is the future of business education. Recent news of MBA education taking another step in the direction of a “freemium” delivery model suggests those people had it right all along. [Read more…]
It sounds crazy, right? After all, I’ve been known to rant every now and again about people taking on crippling debt to get their MBA with zero plan for the future.
Now what if I told you that you can have a top-tier MBA for less than $1,000? [Read more…]
You’re all invited to join in a twitter chat hosted by +Black Enterprise that will be taking place this Friday. The conversation will cover the pros and cons of leaving the workforce to go back to school. The logistics are as follows:
TITLE: @BlackEnterprise“Grad School vs. School of Life” Twitter Chat
Join us as we talk the pros and cons of attending graduate school in lieu of getting into the job market. Experts will weigh in on the return on investment, what to consider when making the decision and other alternatives for maximizing your professional marketability. Tweet #GradvsLife to chime in or submit questions.
HOST: Janell Hazelwood, Associate Producer, BlackEnterprise.com @JPHazelwood
CO-MODERATOR: Jamie Harrison, Career Contributor, BlackEnterprise.com @JayNHarrison
If you’ve never joined a twitter chat before don’t worry. The simplest way to participate is to click the “sign-in with Twitter” button located at the top of the Tweetchat window below at 11AM EST on Friday and begin tweeting.
Note:Be sure to include #GradVsLife at the end of your tweet.
|All the preparation in the world is useless if you don’t apply it|
I was thinking about what to post for this week’s cartoon and I started to look within…like a young martial artist on a search for “the master.”
If you’re not familiar with such things, you can see what I’m talking about on YouTube here. That clip is from an 80s movie called “The Last Dragon” that I’ve seen so many times it’s actually embarrassing, but there is a lesson to be learned here which I’ll get to in a moment.
I’ve had multiple friends of mine tell me they really want to go back to business school but haven’t done anything yet because they are either afraid of taking the GMAT or still preparing to take the GMAT (read: procrastinating). Preparing is crucial to excelling in whatever you do but should not be relied on as a crutch when the real hurdle you’re facing is fear.
This week’s cartoon was born from the experience I’ve had learning how to swim as an adult…with teachers that are accustomed to teaching young children and parents that are shocked when they see me get in the pool for my lesson right after my 4 year old daughter. Initially I thought I would look stupid (which still hasn’t been ruled out) but I was finally not just willing but driven to achieve this goal. After all my hesitation about the money or the looks I would get, I’ve had people come up to me saying they’re impressed that I would take this on as an adult.
One of my favorite yet hashtags I’ve seen on twitter is #GoDo tweeted by @LouImbriano. There comes a time when rubber MUST meet road, so make sure it’s on your terms.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post on applications declining at top business schools. Today, I came across an interesting post with a slightly different perspective on the topic. What made the post worth a (full) read for me is the fact that the author immediately discloses that he dropped out of business school. So while I can say it’s not worth it for everyone in theory, this is a real life example of someone who started and came to the conclusion that it STILL wasn’t worth finishing.
He makes some great points on the return on investment being a risky proposition and more time being spent on networking and recruiting than actual coursework, but I question his premise that people can take online courses and network through LinkedIn and get the same results in their career search.
For learning purposes, of course you can learn online just as much as in the classroom, I’m not sure self study carries the same weight as saying you studied a certain topic at Kellogg, HBS, Anderson, or any other top school.
On the networking side, you can make some powerful ontacts on LinkedIn but the effort required to do so is MUCH more than when you’re networking at business school. It’s much easier to network with people on campus in your class or actively recruiting for talent than it is randomly reaching out to an executive at the firm you’re targeting for your next gig. I’m not saying the difference justifies the full cost of going to get your MBA, but there is no denying that it has some advantages over an individual job search.
What are your thoughts? Do you think self-study is the new trend in resume building/career search? Let me know in the comments.
|Great resource to boost you chances at b-school admission|
There’s a new B-school admission resource that I’m sure many readers of this blog will find useful. It’s a website called Diversity MBA Prep and is focused on increasing the number women and minorities admitted to business school. I know the founder of this site and she definitely knows her stuff. Please give it a look and share with anyone you think could benefit from this type of resource. There should be no shortage of people signing up!
“www.DiversityMBAPrep.com [is]the only online community that brings together women and minorities interested in pursuing their MBA degrees. Our mission is to significantly increase the number of women and minorities that are admitted to MBA programs by providing honest, pointed insight and direction on the MBA application process.
|Business school dilemma: cost vs. earning potential|
Business Week ran a recent story on business schools suffering a decline in applications.
“In the last few weeks, a handful of top business schools have reported single-digit, and in some cases double-digit, declines in applications for their full-time MBA classes, including most recently Columbia Business School and New York University’s Stern School of Business. It turns out they’re not alone. Full-time MBA applications have sunk at at least a dozen of the top 30 B-schools, according to class profile data of 17 business schools obtained this week by Bloomberg Businessweek.
According, to Business Week’s survey, the impact of the b-school application decline was felt disproportionately and groups that are traditionally underrepresented. “This year, competition was especially stiff for women, underrepresented minorities, and students from nontraditional work background.” What’s interesting about the article is that when discussing the drought in applications and the resulting drop in selectivity of top business schools, the author fails to explore a couple of key points that you should consider before you pencil yourself in as Booth’s valedictorian for 2015.
First, there is no real mention of the root cause that applications are down: cost. The article cites a financial aid officer from the University of Indiana with the following explanation for the shift top schools are seeing:
“The decline in applications to increased competition from rival business schools and a plethora of available choices, including part-time and online programs. Second-tier schools are working more aggressively to recruit top MBA candidates and entice them with hefty financial aid packages.
This may be true but the elephant in the room is the rising cost of education. People simply are not seeing a rise in earnings potential that can come anywhere near the pace that education costs are increasing. When I started at Kellogg in 2007, I was told that to expect an average tuition increase of 7% each year. Salaries for graduates have been relatively flat at best, so declining return on investment (ROI) leading to reduced demand shouldn’t come as unexpected.
Second, the notion that “getting an offer to a top business school has become slightly easier” all but implies that the standard for students being admitted has been lowered. While getting into a top school may be mathematically “easier,” this statement is a bit misleading. What’s really happening is that if the school has to randomly decide between equally qualified candidates, your name now will be put into a pool of six for a random draw instead of seven. A more accurate statement to make would be “all else equal, getting an offer to a top business school has become slightly easier.” You’re still going to have to work just as hard during the application process as students have in the past, and expectations of candidates from top business schools are as high as they’ve eveer been.
Do you think there are other factors business school applications are down? Let me know in the comments.
|Must’ve been one of the chapters I “skimmed”|
Business schools are the reason we had the financial downturn! At least that is what this blog post* assigning culpability for our country’s financial meltdown would have you believe. Presumably this is written by a reasonable person (Joel Podolny), considering that he is a former business school dean at Yale and a former business school professor at Harvard and Standford. To be clear, he is not alone in this view but given his background, this is the article that caught my attention. You can read the article in its entirety for yourself and draw your own conclusions, but there are some outrageous claims cloaked as opinions that should not have even made it onto HBR’s website that I’ll address in the following paragraphs.
First, Podolny argues that because leadership is not taught in a quantitative fashion and is discussed at such a high level that “students are convinced that nitty-gritty work can be done without consciously considering factors such as values and ethics.” While I can only speak to Kellogg’s curriculum and value system, I find it hard to believe that this is remotely true of business schools in general. In fact, not only did Kellogg have an ethics requirement to graduate but many of the courses on management and leadership revolved around the LOYALTY and INTEGRITY of people. What I didn’t come across during my time at Kellog was any course, professor, classmate, or alumni that would even consider thinking that ANYTHING worth while could be done without values AND hard work.
Podolny’s next point asserts that potential students considering earning potential as part of the business school decision are somehow using unsound logic. He believes there exists this perception that “the MBA is, primarily, a ticket to big bucks, and doesn’t foster the fact that it is a professional degree that imposes responsibility and accountability on its holders.” The key word in that statement is professional. People obtain professional degrees to enhance their skills to enable them to excel at at their professions. I know it sounds novel but these are the facts. Professional degrees are an investment in one’s self, and I’m willing to bet that Mr Podolny does his due diligence to understand his return on investment (ROI) before buying stocks or making an offer on a home. What makes this investment any different?
The last objection that Podolny raises about business schools is their lack of contrition. The statement starts out promising:
“Look at the website of any leading business school–and you will find it basking in the achievements of its graduates. By the same logic, business schools must also accept responsibility for the harm their graduates do; express disapproval
While I don’t expect business schools to advertise the failures and missteps of its alumni, it’s not unreasonable for one to draw this conclusion. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for what immediately follows when he implies that changes in business school curriculum can “reduce the likelihood that future graduates repeat those behaviors” exhibited by the individuals mostly closely tied to the financial crisis. I must have missed the “Taking Extreme Risks With Insufficient Reserves for Dummies” course.
So not only is Podolny’s solution to absolve students of the responsibility for their moral character, but there is not a single mention of the cultures created by the companies employing these graduates. There isn’t a single mention of compensation being tied to short-sighted corporate targets and unrealistic market expectations of infinite growth. And there is not a single mention about tightening codes of conduct for the finance professionals who haven’t suffered so much as a wrist slap after playing a key role in one of the biggest economic meltdowns in U.S. history.
Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?
*This article and many like it were written in 2009 while I was in business school, but I didn’t see this until a couple of weeks ago when it showed up in “related posts” on another article I was reading. It’s always interesting to see the conclusions people can make with limited information when there is a point they are determined to prove.
The job market isn’t what it used to be for MBA students; the days of going back to school with a virtual guarantee of a six-figure job are no more. If we’re being completely honest , there’s no guarantee of any job after going back to school full-time for your MBA.
When I was in business school part-time, things got so bad that Kellogg had to relax its requirement that part-time students maintain full-time employment. That says a lot about the state of the job market. While there are still jobs to be had, many current openings require a specific technical skill set such as statistics or tax, and this shift in the marketplace should inform how you choose your curriculum. Taking classes similar to the ones below (links to course description included in case titles are different) will shift the odds in your favor.
|Photo courtesy of twitter user @clairedemy|
Accounting is a core class but I want to emphasize the importance of not blowing this off as just a requirement to get to the degree. It’s funny to me how many people “hate it” before they’ve even taken an accounting course. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s a reason accounting is referred to as the language of business. You’re doing yourself a disservice as a business person if you don’t understand the fundamentals of accounting. No, I’m not just saying that because I’m a CPA, but the business foundation being a CPA provides is a big part of why I wanted to become one.
Entrepreneurial Finance teaches you how to assess cash flows generated by a business opportunity. While introductory finance also teaches this, entrepreneurial finance eliminates some of the “fluff” associated with textbook answers and limits scope to only the most practical finance techniques and information.
International Finance is a topic that has gone from a “nice to know” to a “must know” due to the fact that the global marketplace is shrinking and thriving in a global economy and requires looking at how markets interact in a completely different way. Dealing with transactions in highly volatile currencies can be an overwhelming task. I saw this recently at a client worked with who refused all intercompany invoices that weren’t in Japanese Yen. He knew this was outside of policy but he had not yet learned the skills to protect himself from foreign currency risk. International finance helps to ensure that you don’t find yourself in this situation.
Empirical Methods is stats on steroids. This course is all about how to handle massive quantities of data. Google “big data” and see what you find. Here is an article from the New York Times discussing the surge in “big data” that is available for consumption and the demand for people who can performance advanced statistical analysis on this data to come up with meaningful, actionable insights. This need is going to continue growing with no end in sight.
Strategy & Organization is one of those “soft” courses that I normally wouldn’t consider a critical course in the business world, but understanding the topics in this type of course sets you up to manage the performance of a business of any size. By taking this type of course, you gain an understanding of how to ensure that incentives are aligned with desired behaviors. Understanding this concept gives you the ability to align and move many people toward a common goal with limited day-to-day management. And who wouldn’t want an army at his/her disposal?
Would you swap out any courses on this list or add to the list? For what it’s worth, a friend of mine said his two most valuable MBA courses were real estate investment analysis and strategy,which I’d argue fits the same overarching theme of the courses above: building strong technical skills of some sort and trying to understand what drives people’s behavior.
|Who are you asking to write your b-school recommendations?|
Choosing writers of recommendations wasn’t originally planned as part of my “How to” posts on getting into business school; however, after several recent conversations I see it’s a topic that cannot be ignored. Asking people to write your recommendations can be tricky because on one hand you want someone with the most influence to help you reach your goal to vouch for you, but on the other hand, you want to make sure the person writing your recommendation can truly speak to why you deserve this highly coveted spot if there are any follow-up questions.
One can navigate this dilemma by following a few best practices for selecting recommendation writers.
Choose People That Know You Well
Business schools aren’t necessarily looking to have every candidate – they are looking for people with leadership potential and a character that is going to help build upon that particular institution’s culture and core values. For example, when I applied to Kellogg, I had asked three people to write recommendations for me: supervisor (required), former supervisor, and a teammate that I helped to train when she joined the firm. A big part of Kellogg’s culture is being collaborative, and I knew these particular individuals could genuinely speak to what I’d bring to the table in this area better than anyone else. Yes, I could have asked my boss’ boss’ boss to write one of my recommendations, and I’m sure he would’ve written a strong recommendation, but I didn’t want to risk it coming across as generic.
One way to prevent this generic recommendation problem is for you to draft the content for the writer, or at least a set of bullet points you’d like them to cover in their letter. The problem with this approach is that some people might view this as pushy and/or arrogant. So, if you don’t know the person you’re asking that well you can ask if they are comfortable with you preparing the messaging you’d like to see, but this adds another unnecessary layer of complexity, and potentially awkward conversation, to the process. I’m not suggesting that you should be afraid to have tough conversations when necessary; I’m just saying I wouldn’t go creating them for fun.
Get Recommendations From a Variety of Sources
Having recommendations from a variety of people/organizations gives you more credibility than if you just have your friends from your current job pleading your case for b-school admission. This is how you can show a track record of building long-lasting relationships and the fact that the people you in. Think about how many people leave positions on less than stellar terms
The earlier you ask for recommendations, the more likely it is people will agree to do it for you and the more time they have to craft a detailed, well thought-out message of why you’re going to be the next big thing. If you wait too long to ask for recommendations there are several ways for your business school hopes to end badly:
1. Person says no because you didn’t give enough notice
2. Person says yes but writes you a mediocre recommendation due to time pressure because you didn’t give enough notice
3. Person says yes but actually doesn’t have the time and misses the deadline because you didn’t give enough notice
Get the idea?
Show Your Appreciation
There are few things worse in this world than someone you to go out of your way to help them and then acting like he or she was entitled to your time. If you make this a habit, your circle of people that will go to bat for you undoubtedly being to disappear. Luckily, we human beings are a simple bunch and this probably is easily avoided. You can handwrite a thank you note, stop by individually to thank each of your writers, or give a small giftcard to their favorite local coffee shop or lunch spot. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top but shows that you valued their time. Make this a habit and the likelihood of these people supporting you again in the future is much improved.