Time to Think About Funding Your MBA Plans

With Round 2 applications behind us, it’s time to turn your attention to the next step in your MBA journey. Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how to pay …

PAYING FOR YOUR MBAWith Round 2 applications behind us, it’s time to turn your attention to the next step in your MBA journey. Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how to pay for it. An MBA is a long-term investment, and fortunately, schools want to work with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.

Therefore, the first resource to tap is your target program. Once admitted, your school will present you with a package of information about public and private loans and scholarships.

In addition, you may be considered for merit fellowships based on your academic credentials, accomplishments and experience that has already been communicated in your application. Most elite business schools offer merit-based awards at the time of admission that do not require a separate application, and some schools may also offer additional fellowships that you can apply for directly through the program.

Find out whether your target program offers fellowships or scholarships to applicants with extremely high GMAT scores, or who have otherwise excelled in academics, work experience, and service to the community.

For example, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business offers full-ride fellowships through the Jefferson Scholars Foundation that include a living stipend, funds for travel and research, and health insurance.

Some candidates look to their employer, especially those working for a large Fortune 100 company. Often, these employers will help fund your tuition if you commit to remaining with the company after graduation.

Finally, here are a few words of wisdom for individuals planning to attend business school in the near future:

  • Get your finances in order first
  • Think about living slightly below your means before school
  • Save as much as possible
  • Avoid credit card debt
  • Scale back on things you don’t need (including big things like a car if you don’t really need one)

Consider seeking out diversity organizations where applicable. Forté Foundation does an amazing job preparing women for the journey to business school, and The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management orients applicants of color during the application process and awards full-tuition scholarships to top MBA candidates.

Starting early – about three months before applying – is also really helpful if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the extra time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

You may also be interested in:

You’re In…Now How Will You Pay for the MBA
Weigh if an MBA Makes Financial Sense
Show Me the Money: Highest Paid Consulting Firms for New MBAs
Does an MBA Pay Off? Ask Paul Ollinger

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Executives Weigh in on the Value of an MBA

Are you thinking about pursuing an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While the degree can be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to …

value of the MBAAre you thinking about pursuing an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While the degree can be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network or expose you to new industries.

Now then, what b-school hopeful doesn’t love to hear advice from those who have walked the MBA path before them? In case you need more convincing, US News and World Report, for which I write a bi-weekly post on the MBA admissions process, recently published a great story with tips for prospective applicants delivered straight from executives who also possess the degree.

Here are some key excerpts of their advice:

Les Williams, Chief revenue officer at Risk Cooperative, an insurance brokerage firm: “[business school] gives you a really big network so whatever you are interested in down the road, it will take you there,” Williams says, adding that the network he developed at Harvard Business School has helped him get jobs and clients.

Dave Wright,  Managing director in the private banking and investment group at Merrill Lynch: Although MBA degrees are an expensive investment, Wright is “a huge proponent” of the degree, he says. “It broadens your skill set and and surrounds you with like-minded people who will push you further and higher, but it definitely requires some sacrifice.”

Peter Faricy, Vice president of Amazon Marketplace, an e-commerce platform owned by Amazon: Aspiring executives ought to get an MBA, Faricy says. “If you enjoy business roles and you want to do this for the long haul, I put the MBA in the no-brainer category.”

Nicole Sahin, CEO of Globalization Partners, an employment services firm: Sahin urges prospective MBA students to get significant work experience before starting an MBA program so they can use the wisdom that comes from work to thrive in their courses.

As we’ve witnessed many times, business school enables students to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities that can help organizations launch new products, improve the lives of consumers, and help society as a whole.

To read more about the featured executives, where they studied, and their own takeaways from the MBA experience, please click over to the original article on U.S. News.

You may also be interested in:

Why Do You Want to Go to B-School?
GMAC Survey Predicts Robust Job Market for MBA Grads

Image credit: Flickr user Penn State (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

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Applying for an MBA as an Early Career Candidate

Is there such a thing as a right time to apply for an MBA? Here at SBC, clients frequently ask if they’re too young to apply to some of the world’s top business schools. While …

advice for early career applicantIs there such a thing as a right time to apply for an MBA? Here at SBC, clients frequently ask if they’re too young to apply to some of the world’s top business schools. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, many b-school hopefuls consider pursuing an MBA straight out of undergrad or with scant work experience a no-brainer, as they avoid putting their lives on hold for two years—and forgoing a potentially significant salary to do so.

But what kind of early career candidate has a shot of admission into a top MBA program? Basically, those who are talented, motivated, and exhibit a track record of leadership and initiative. Though they may not have the years of formal work experience under their belts, these younger applicants have gained skills through internships, community service, entrepreneurial ventures or extra-curricular activities.

In a recent piece published on the Booth Insider blog at the University of Chicago Booth School of BusinessMegan Stiphany, Senior Associate Director of Admissions and Program Director of Summer Business Scholars, offers advice to early career candidates on finding those growth opportunities that will set you up for future success.

Professional or academic internships are a great place to begin, since they allow you to try a new career on for size and help lay the foundation for a strong professional network. This can be especially helpful for applicants with a lighter quant background in college.  You’ll build new skills, crystallize your career goals, and become more sure about whether an MBA is the next logical step. As an added bonus, Stiphany says future employers and graduate programs alike appreciate the value of internship experiences.

Programs such as Booth’s Summer Business Scholars Program (SBSP) allow those thinking about pursuing an MBA to test out the b-school experience. “No matter your background, spending three weeks this summer at Booth will give you tangible business skills that you can use right away, and give you a great taste of the business school experience,” she says.

“Recruiters and graduate programs are attracted to candidates who have explored diverse areas of study, and who can join their organization with strong leadership, business, and communication skills in place,” Stiphany adds.

Schools are becoming increasingly open to all ages, and realize that candidates have a lot to contribute in different ways at various life stages. If you can demonstrate maturity, highly focused career goals, leadership skills, and enough life experience to contribute to an incoming class, your age or thin amount of work experience become far less important.

Your job as an MBA applicant therefore is to search internally for what you have to offer.

“There are many roads you can take as part of your career journey,” says Stiphany. “Take the time to explore each option in order to truly evaluate which is right for you – and when!”

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3 Signs You Shouldn’t Apply to Business School in Round 3

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Everyone has an opinion about submitting an MBA application in round three, and a lot of the conversation circles around how competitive it …

MBA application

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Everyone has an opinion about submitting an MBA application in round three, and a lot of the conversation circles around how competitive it is. If you tried your best but you just couldn’t pull together all of your business school materials before round two deadlines hit, you might wonder whether round three is the answer.

By the time the final admission round starts, admissions committees have seen thousands of qualified applicants in the first two rounds, have a fairly good idea of what the incoming class will look like and also compiled a waitlist of additional qualified candidates.

Before round three closes out, a certain percentage of people admitted in the first two rounds will have already committed to a program. In short, precious few spots remain when the admissions committees finally turn their attention to final-round applications.

As such, deciding whether to apply in the final round requires serious reflection and sound reasoning. Consider these three signs that you should not apply to business school in round three.

1. You had no luck with earlier round applications. This is a guaranteed red flag that your MBA application needs more work, and applying in the final round will likely yield the same results.

It’s a huge mistake to think that fewer applicants in round three means less competition and better chances of admission. As we’ve mentioned before, successful round three applications offer the schools something that has truly not appeared in applicants from the previous rounds.

The admissions committees know what they need to round out the class. They have become good at estimating numbers and evaluating and accepting applicants who fit their criteria.

Only the strongest, most compelling candidates make the cut, so if your applications didn’t generate sufficient interest in earlier rounds, they certainly won’t amid the exceptional candidates at the end of the season. Instead, you should regroup, restrategize and apply again next year.

2. Your test scores are middling and you’ve only tested once. The majority of applicants plan to take the GMAT or GRE a second time if their initial test scores aren’t in the 80-percent range for their target MBA programs. Like it or not, test scores greatly influence admissions decisions. As we’ve discussed in prior posts, preparing early and adequately for the entrance exam is critical.

While each year we hear of that miracle case where someone gets into Harvard Business School with a 650 on the GMAT, it’s likely that the person’s profile was so extraordinary in every other way that it offset the low score. Devote ample time to test prep this spring and bring that crucial application component in line with what the admissions committee expects to see from successful candidates.

3. You’re rushing to get all of your materials together. The golden rule in MBA admissions is apply only when your application is as strong as possible – and not a moment before.

Maybe projects at work have kept you ultra-busy these past few months. Perhaps one of your recommenders seems less enthusiastic about your b-school plans and you need to find a new one. Or maybe you just haven’t devoted as much time as you’d like to those important extracurricular interests that the admissions committee loves to see.

Think of every part of the MBA application as precious real estate. If you’re rushing any one component just to get everything submitted on deadline, the quality will suffer.

Take a breather, get your materials together in a thoughtful manner and wait for round one deadlines. This extra time will allow you to approach the application more strategically, and will certainly yield a more positive outcome than a sloppy last-round application will.

Finally, if you do decide to throw your hat in the ring, be sure to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. Developing resilience is incredibly important if you need to reapply, but it’s also essential in life.

Even when you put your best out there, you might still fail. However, to be successful, you need to learn how to bounce back and try again.

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