In most cases, advanced education will reap numerous benefits in the professional world. Your knowledge base qualifies you for a wider range of positions and you may make valuable contacts that can advance your career. When it comes to an MBA, there is potential for a dramatic increase in salary, particularly if you graduate from a top-tier school. The variety of programs available can be daunting, but with a bit of focus on some key areas of importance, you can narrow down the choices and find the best program for you.
Specialized or General?
The first step in finding the right program is getting clear on exactly why you want this degree and what you hope to do with it. Most MBA programs are more generalized, and allow you to zero in on specific academic and professional interests, through a variety of elective classes; other programs are more specialized and really focus on a specific area, such as entrepreneurship. Many admissions officers, however, recommend a generalized program for several reasons. It offers a more comprehensive education in the different aspects of business. If you are one of the many people who decide to change their career objectives mid-way through school, it is easier to accommodate that in a generalized program. Recessions may require you to change career paths once you finish the program and a generalized program can help you adapt more quickly to different areas of business. Ultimately, it is based on your individual needs.
Many people in MBA programs have already been out in the work force; they are typically looking to advance their current career or enter a new field. A diverse array of professional backgrounds will be represented and this can be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and make connections that can advance your career. When deciding on a school, it is a good idea to get a strong sense of the different types of students that attend the program, and whether this profile presents any advantages to your professional aspirations. Ask the school if they can put you in touch with any alumni.
Ultimately, a business school will only be as good as its faculty, and this is an important consideration when choosing your MBA program. While you naturally want a school chock-full of professors highly regarded in the business world, it is important not to get seduced by these star players. There is a chance that you may not even see much of them between consulting, research projects and book tours. To get the most accurate picture of faculty quality, it is important to talk to current and former students. Ultimately, the most important things are approachability and capability.
The culture of the school is another important consideration. You have to think carefully about what type of environment you prefer and thrive best in. Some MBA programs are cut-throat and hypercompetitive—some thrive off this type of energy and it inspires them to do their best, while other people may prefer a bit more of a collegiate environment where students work together more.
Ryan Biddulph has been freelance writing for several years, and particularly enjoys blogging about education. He recommends you visit http://www.onlinebusinessprograms.net/ for more information on business schools.