This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
Self-sabotage is any behavior or emotion that keeps individuals from going after something they want. This mental safety mechanism keeps them in their comfort zone and protects against disappointment, but it also prevents people from stretching and growing to reach their highest potential.
If you really believe that going to business school is the key to unlocking a more fulfilling and lucrative professional life, then don’t sabotage that goal by letting yourself get swayed by these four bad reasons for not pursuing an MBA degree.
1. I have too little or too much work experience. While business schools used to have a requirement of previous work experience – often averaging five years – that has changed considerably over the past decade. Limited professional experience is no longer a hindrance in many cases, since schools actively court applicants of different ages, genders and backgrounds.
Earlier entrance to business school would allow women who plan to have a family to establish their careers first. Also, younger applicants can make the case that the MBA degree is crucial to attaining their already crystalized career goals. Most students would be financially better off in the long run as well if they didn’t delay too long in seeking an MBA, particularly when taking into account the opportunity cost of forgone salary – and schools are aware of this.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have more than eight years of work experience, there’s no need to fear that your MBA ship has sailed. It’s not about chronological age – it’s more about maturity, readiness and where you are in your career.
If you’re contemplating business school in your mid-30s, the key is to demonstrate confidence, how you’ve progressed professionally and what you’ve contributed on the job. Both younger and olderapplicants get accepted into top programs, so your age and experience level should never be the sole deciding factor of whether to apply to business school.
2. I was denied admission last year. Some people have a hard time dealing with what they perceive as rejection. If you’ve been feeling down ever since you received rejection letters, remember to keep your chin up.
First, elite MBA programs are extremely selective. At the top schools, out of every 100 applications, only around seven to 12 are accepted.
In other words, it’s very much a numbers game when you’re applying to such competitive programs. Only so many spots are available for an overwhelming number of extremely talented candidates.
Applying to an MBA program is seriously hard work. Give yourself some time to recharge from the last go-around, but then get ready to take a critical look at where you can enhance your candidacy before applying again. Make sure every aspect of your application is as polished as humanly possible.
Whether it’s retaking the GMAT to boost your score, taking a calculus course to prove your quantitative skills or looking at what you can do to strengthen your profile professionally or within your extracurriculars, everyone has room for improvement. We’ve seen many triumphant cases of reapplicants receiving offers of admission from their dream school, so one unsuccessful season should never deter you from trying again.
3. I haven’t done anything amazing to get into a top school. It’s hard not to feel intimidated when you read the admitted student profiles at many of the elite MBA programs, which might include Olympians, successful entrepreneurs, decorated military officers and candidates with outstanding public service experience. However, don’t get psyched out of applying just because you can’t list anything similarly noteworthy on your application.
To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you just need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. But it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you left indelible footprints. Show that you’re solutions-oriented and provide evidence of situations where you have applied your analysis, formulated an action plan and, most importantly, executed the plan.
Community service is very important to the admissions committee because it provides insights into your deeper interests and the causes you care about. It also shows that you are the type of person who devotes energy to making a community stronger.
Again, it’s not about demonstrating the most compelling act of service. Just show what you care about and how that activity or involvement enriches your life while helping others.
4. Business school is expensive. I won’t try to tell you that an MBA degree from a top business school isn’t pricey. Not only are you spending money on tuition and all of the other associated costs, but in many cases you will forego salary during the length of the program.
While figuring out how to pay for it all can be challenging and intimidating, look at an MBA as a long-term financial investment. Fortunately, schools are deeply committed to working with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.
I strongly believe that where there’s a will there’s a way and that the MBA degree pays off in many ways, both quantifiable and priceless. So shake off those self-sabotaging thoughts and get started on creating your own path to the professional goals you seek.