Mind Your Own Business … School

So your ambition is to make your first million by 25? Have people calling you “the new Bill Gates” by 30? Time to start looking into an MBA. But be careful. What you find might not be what you expect.

In the first place you don’t just “go” to business school (or “b-school” to those in the know). Most schools require up to four years actual experience in business. Learning the basics on the job saves time and allows you to see what business is really like. Entry level jobs convince some that the business world is not right for them. Also, you may be able to impress someone who will write a letter of recommendation for you and put aside some tuition money as well.

Time Is Money and So Is Testing

Speaking of which, you are going to need quite a bit of time and money; two years full time at $18,000 – $25,000 per year, plus books and numerous extra fees. Part time takes 3 or 4 years and spreads tuition a little thinner. Money can be borrowed, but time spent is gone. You need to be sure of you really want and can really do. A mistake could be expensive. Seek advice from friends and family, especially those who have attended business school. Find out whether they thought it was difficult, worth the money, socially enlightening, etc.

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You will also have to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), which is something like the general SAT. It does not measure abilities particular to business, but tests reading, writing, logic and problem-solving skills. You must score a least 680 (out of 800) to be considered for most schools. There are tutoring classes. More money. As with most such tests there is a fee, $225 which includes sending the scores to five different schools. Extra copies are $25 each. Yes, these scores count for quite a bit in the eyes of admission boards.

Snooping for Schools

How can you tell a good business school from a not-so-good one? Ask the man who owns one. Ask professors from other schools and business executives their opinion. Do the students graduate with sound knowledge and usable skills? Would you hire one of them? Find out what kind of grades and test scores acceptees have and what percentage of applicants is accepted. The bottom line is how many graduates are working, where, and for how much?

Apply Yourself

So now it’s time to apply. Start early, at least six months before the school year begins, more if possible. Open the wallet again. The application fee for the average school is about $50, for top schools $150. Supposedly, this weeds out those who aren’t really serious about the whole thing. Of course, you want to apply to more than one school (some recommend as many as seven), so multiply the fee by the number of applications to find out how deeply in the hole you’re going to be when the process is over.

Generally schools are impressed by good grades, test scores and outside activities that DON’T have to do with business. (The term is “well-rounded”.) Tap into business associates and college professors for letters of recommendation. Clergymen are also impressive. And then there are the essays, between two and six per application. Practice being coherent and logical on paper. Sincerity and honesty count.

Finally business school is about making social contacts and working in groups. If you’ve always been the class loner or rebel, put it aside or give up. All but the very smallest companies assign projects to groups rather than individuals (that’s what those endless meetings are about) and employers value people skills. Your social contacts may also do you some good in the working world, although that isn’t why you make them.

you can see some tips for applying online at http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091009132353AAesYFP.

So there it is. Lots of money, lots of time, lots of work and between three and six essay questions. That is what it takes to make your dream a reality. How badly do you want it?

Edgar @ Degrees and Debt

AuthorEdgar @ Degrees and Debt

Founder of Degrees and Debt. Edgar just wrapped up his MS in Project Management with a focus on Information Security Management. Battling back to even from student loans, mortgage and credit card debt is an art Edgar is learning to master. This is his journey.