A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can yield many benefits for business owners, yet it isn’t right for everyone, nor is it the best choice in every situation. Here are five things you should know before pursuing an MBA. Consider each of these points so that you know whether an MBA is right for you and which program would be best for you personally.
Whether It Actually Helps You
Don’t believe someone who says everyone has to earn an MBA to succeed in business. There are many successful business people with no degree at all. Do not get a degree just to earn a degree; that’s a luxury few can afford. Don’t earn an MBA in the mere hope it will cause your business to boom. Do your research. Know how an MBA will help you achieve your business goals before you start researching MBA programs. A different degree, industry certifications, or one-on-one mentoring may be a better choice for you.
Another factor to consider is whether or not the business school has the resources you need. Does the school provide networking opportunities with existing alumni or mentoring programs? If the MBA program is essentially segregated from the rest of the school, seen as simply a certification they hand out, you should look at another program.
The Overall Cost
You do need to look at the overall cost of the MBA program. Online degree programs typically cost less than traditional programs, and allow you to continue to run your business while you go to school, but there are still tuition costs and other fees. Before you assume you cannot afford to pursue an MBA, research financial aid from various institutions. Review your own financial situation, and see how you could possibly cash-flow the degree, though it may require cutting back on some elements of your lifestyle now to avoid debt payments in the future. The school may offer you loans, as well, though grants are better.
The Return on Investment
An MBA comes with a hefty price, costing you both time and money. You don’t want to earn an MBA that is the product of a diploma mill.
First of all, is an MBA right for you? You have to make sure that you have weighed up all the benefits of enrolling in an MBA program and whether going for an online MBA might be a better option for you. If you decide to earn a Master’s in Business Administration online, opt for a top ranked online MBA program. While it may have a higher price tag, the name recognition ensures that your degree will be recognized and respected.
Depending on the program, it may cost you lost wages if you have to take time away from your business to attend class. That’s one of the online MBA benefits that you shouldn’t dismiss. If you can attend classes on your lunch break, in the evening, or on weekends instead of taking a year off from work, you’ll be able to attend school while still growing your business.
You also want to make the most of your money. Not every online MBA professor takes time to provide real world examples and answer questions in detail. Yet failing to do this is a waste of your time and money. If you find yourself in a bad program, stop immediately and switch to another one. Throwing good money after bad is a poor decision, whether in life or in business.
Online MBA programs will also allow you to save on manuals, transportation, and lodging. All of these costs can easily add up and make the burden more difficult for you, especially if you have to juggle your work and studies.
The Time Commitment
You aren’t going to get everything out of the class you otherwise could if you don’t do the reading and prep work in advance. No class lecture should be your first exposure to a topic. At a minimum, read the overview of the material and required reading. This will help you ask better questions of the teacher. Better yet, be proactive and create a list of questions you want to ask in class.
The recommended reading, whether it is linked articles or books, should be read in advance so that you get as much as possible out of each class. Plan your schedule so that you get this done, though it may mean listening to audio books while you jog or drive to work. If you cannot find time for the associated reading and homework despite planning when you can keep up with the reading list, you may not be ready to earn an MBA.
Your classmates are a resource you cannot ignore. You can connect with them to take notes and study together. You can learn each person’s strengths, weaknesses, and expertise and find a peer who can tutor you in an area where you are weak. Then there’s the fact that any one of these people may be an employee or business partner someday. If the school doesn’t give you the opportunity to connect with peers or it is a hostile environment, the program isn’t the right place for you.
This is another area where going for an online MBA might be a better solution. Not everyone thrives in a traditional class environment and an online MBA is a great option for someone who may be more reserved or independent. And you might actually be surprised by how attentive and available teachers can be online compared with a regular classroom. Depending on your personality, you might actually thrive better with the individuality an online MBA offers, so make sure that you see whether it could be a more fitting choice, depending on your personal learning and personality type.
Run your own cost-benefit analysis before you pursue an MBA. It will help you determine if an MBA is right for you and which program would be the best choice.