Think You’re Ready to Do an MBA? Use This Checklist and Find Out!

Many prospective B-school students confront the question–when’s the right time to do an MBA?–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?

Earlier this week, Canada’s Globe and Mail published a spot-on checklist to determine if you are ready to do an MBA. Niki da Silva, director of MBA admissions and recruitment at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business, says the decision to pursue the degree should be taken seriously, as there’s sometimes a tendency to rush into it.

“I think the best way to consider the timing is to understand when you’re ready to benefit from the experience, identify gaps in your development and career path, but also contribute to the MBA experience,” da Silva explains.

Are you ready to dive into the MBA admissions process? Use the Globe and Mail’s checklist to help decide whether the time is right for an MBA.

Is my head in the right place?

Do you have the discipline to balance the immense and challenging workload of an MBA program with your existing work or personal obligations? Jim Fisher, vice-dean at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says “[Applicants] have to be in the frame of mind that says this is going to be a total immersion with a bunch of other people in exactly that same mind frame.”

Can I afford it?

An MBA program is probably one of the most expensive academic decisions you’ll ever make, especially once you factor in living expenses, course-related travel expenses, and the loss of two years of income while pursuing the degree full-time.

When da Silva advises students to budget $100,000 for their year of learning at Ivey, the candidate has to think about it from a short and long-term perspective, she says, adding that “The MBA is an investment and you shouldn’t expect to recoup the costs immediately.”

Despite the hefty expense, MBAs seem to agree that the sacrifice is worth it. A recent global survey of MBA alumni by GMAC found that two-thirds of the class of 2009 said their graduating salary either met or exceeded their expectations.

Do I have enough career experience?

Most MBA programs require at least two years of work experience as a prerequisite to any application. Regardless of the requirements, da Silva feels that relevant workplace experience is a must for candidates to get the most out of their study. “I think you need to have enough work experience and enough transferable skills to understand why you’re doing the MBA, to be running to something as opposed to running from something,” she explains.

Do I have the support needed to be successful?

As Rotman’s Fisher points out, by the time many students begin pursuing their MBA, they have mortgages, children and other responsibilities that makes study at the post-graduate level an even greater challenge. He urges all candidates to carefully assess whether they have the support ”“ be it financial or emotional ”“ of family, spouse or friends necessary to make their one to two years as successful as possible.

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It’s no surprise that an MBA expands your skill set and your network of contacts, as well as significantly increases your long-term earning potential. If you’re ready to take the plunge, Stacy Blackman Consulting offers a wealth of materials and services for prospective applicants. Whether you need our comprehensive consulting services, help with essay editing, or want the inside scoop with our school essay, interview or branding guides, we have something for everyone.

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