Business is the most popular major pursued by undergraduates across the country, year after year. It isn’t a surprise then that business school is a popular option for those seeking advanced degrees. Business school is also increasingly becoming an option for those without undergraduate degrees in business, as many want to develop skills in the field to make them more marketable job candidates, or to broaden their skill sets to make them more successful in their current positions. If you’re thinking about business school and think it may be a worthwhile option for you, we’ve come up with some information below on what you should consider before deciding to go, applying, and paying for business school.
Although it will probably help you do well once you’re in a program, you don’t need to be coming from a business background to apply for admission to a business school. Many schools like to see applicants with a diverse set of experiences to offer, and who will round out a class of predominantly business, finance, or economics majors. A business degree may also be useful outside of the traditional offices one may think of when envisioning business school graduates; those interested in moving up to leadership positions in the health care or communications fields, for example, may also benefit from more schooling in business. Positions with more responsibility also usually led to better pay, so a business degree may help your bottom line, as well.
Still, there are some things to consider before deciding to go to business school. An MBA is no easy feat, usually requiring at least two years of a degree seeker’s time to complete. Many business school students balance classes with their current full-time jobs, either because they have such an arrangement with their employer in exchange for some tuition reimbursement or because they cannot afford business school otherwise. It’s important then to consider the sacrifices that come with less time for anything outside of work and school.
One hurdle you’ll face after you’ve decided to apply for business school is determining which schools you’re interested in applying to. Depending on the specific field you’re interested in, whether that’s accounting, finance or any other specialization, there may be a school out there that’s better than the others in terms of preparing you for a career in that particular field. If you’re interested in a broader curriculum, you may prioritize other factors, like the school’s location, faculty and staff, student body, and statistics on job placement and starting salaries.
Your application to business school will be focused on your academic achievements as an undergraduate (your GPA and how well you did in the business courses you took), any experience in the field, and your GMAT score. (Many schools have begun accepting the GRE in lieu of the GMAT, so you’ll need to check with the schools you’re applying to as to which is preferable.) Most schools will also require recommendation letters and personal statements on why you think a business degree is right for you.
Once you’ve made the decision to go to business school, it’s important to consider how you’re going to pay for that next step. Most business school grads finish their degrees with about $40,000 in student loan debt. That doesn’t have to be you. One option may be talking to your employer. If you’re already in the business world, where an advanced degree is the only thing stopping you from moving up at your company, your employer may offer the benefit of some tuition reimbursement. This kind of deal would most likely come with some strings attached, however. Most employers will require that you stay with them for a number of years after you receive your business degree. If you like where you work, though, it may not be a bad deal.
You may have a tough time finding many business scholarships coming from the college you choose to attend. But depending on your student characteristics and specific interests in business (accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurship, for example), there may be scholarships out there that you qualify for from outside organizations and professional groups. A number of scholarships for graduate students may also be applicable to business school, so don’t limit yourself when you start your scholarship search.
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