If youre thinking of going back to school and getting an MBA, its first critical to determine whether your expectations for an advanced business degree are aligned with the advantages that it could provide. Here are a few things to consider.
MBA programmes offer three different types of benefits, all of which vary tremendously from one school to another:
1. Practical leadership and management skills. Management education has changed significantly over the last few decades. Previously it focused on quantitative analysis in areas such as finance and operations, with little emphasis on other aspects of organisational life. As a result, MBAs were often seen as bean counters. So MBA programmes responded by expanding their offerings in areas such as strategy, organisational behaviour and leadership.
2. A credential that sends a signal to the marketplace. The nature of the signal being sent depends on the specific MBA programs reputation, and this is not simply a matter of prestige. Harvard, Stanford and Wharton routinely top lists of US business schools, but they also have a reputation for entitlement and arrogance.
While some firms seek out graduates from elite schools, others avoid them out of a concern that they will be difficult to work with and disruptive to the established culture.
3. Membership in a learning community and access to an alumni network. Business school emphasises working in groups, and MBA students often learn as much from their peers as they do from lecturers, so its important to consider who youll be working alongside for two years.