This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA, particularly when they become bored or frustrated with their current professional trajectory. But how do you know whether you’re really ready to tackle the intense demands of a full-time MBA program?
There’s often a tendency to rush into it, but the decision to pursue an MBA requires serious thought. Before you start preparing to apply, take a critical look at your reasons for pursuing the degree and make sure it’s the right decision for you.
Motivations for earning an MBA vary by person, but prospective students who decide to embark on the journey should first make sure they’ve identified gaps in their professional development, have clear career goals and feel ready to contribute to the MBA experience.
Review these five signs to determine whether you’re ready to apply to business school.
1. You’ve maxed out professional development: Do you feel like your current position isn’t allowing you to maximize your skills or that your supervisors don’t value your contributions?
If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.
2. You want pursue a new professional goal: If you’re looking for the fast track to gain skills and build a network to launch your career in a new direction, an MBA will definitely expand your options.
Once you’re in business school, you have the opportunity to see how you fit in that new industry through coursework, student groups, internships or networking with alumni. Self-reflection and exploration are key components of the MBA experience, giving students a chance to sample various fields and functions without making any firm commitments.
3. You need an MBA to move ahead in your current job: Unlike career switchers, career enhancers can use the MBA as a way to move up the proverbial ladder in their current company or industry.
Earning an MBA can reassure supervisors who seem reluctant about promoting you because of your age or limited years of work experience. It shows that you’re a go-getter who will do whatever it takes to continue growing and developing personally and professionally.
In some industries – such as finance, marketing, IT or international business – employers often require an MBA for an individual to advance to certain upper management positions.
4. You want to gain specific skills that are taught in business school: In an MBA program, you’ll learn how to think strategically, analyze problems and broaden your leadership skills.
Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.
5. You feel you have a lot to contribute to a diverse MBA class: If you’ve been in the job for a few years, tackled multiple real-world business problems and been tested and challenged professionally and personally, you’re already equipped to bring a unique and valuable perspective to an MBA class of equally driven and talented peers.
When students from diverse backgrounds and industries come together and share their experiences and skills, all participants learn valuable lessons they would have never otherwise encountered. Remember, the admissions team wants to see how much you’ll contribute to the class in addition to finding out what you’ll gain from the MBA.
As we’ve seen countless 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. But only you can determine when the time is right to take that next step.