By Daniel Olivan on March 3, 2017
Maybe you're about to business or economics graduate from college and you're figuring out the next step. You could also be working now and you're thinking of some way to level up your credentials. Or maybe you're just really interested in doing further studies in the field of business and management. If yes, then an MBA is definitely within your radar.
But getting an MBA is no joke. Before you even start that application for a master's degree, ask yourself these three questions:
What is my true purpose for pursuing an MBA?
For most significant decisions in life, understanding the true "why" in doing anything is paramount. Pursuing an MBA is no different.
For many people, it's about adding a significant boost to their credentials. An MBA may be focused on providing skills integral to business and managing one, but core subjects such as strategy, accounting, or marketing are applicable to various types of organizations. It actually adds a competitive edge to your resume, and many companies will be immediately attracted to candidates with an MBA.
For others, they believe it will help them pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, and achieve them faster and more efficiently. Imagine being able to take years upon years of studies and experience, and absorbing it in a condensed form. An MBA might just be the extra push in confidence you need to turn that idea into reality.
However, know that taking up an MBA doesn't assure you 100% success.
Taking up any postgraduate (or even any undergraduate) degree provides you the educational and the knowledge to prepare you for your chosen path, but it doesn't replace all the work you need to do. There those who raise points against the hype of an MBA. And just because you're interested in business doesn't mean you should rule out an MA, MS, or even a PHD.
Be clear with yourself as to why you want to pursue an MBA, and keep that purpose close to your heart — because you're going to need it when the times are tough. And that brings us to the next question.
How will I pay for it?
In the West, you can apply for student loans to help you get through school. Here in the Philippines, that isn't something we have.
For more well-off individuals, family can help cover educational expenses (or even pay for it in full) whether that means an extra two or ten years of schooling. It's just a matter of deciding when to do it, and letting them understand the "why."
For the rest of us who don't have the financial luxury, scholarships are your next best option. Consult the websites or send an email to your preferred schools to know more about their international scholarship programs.
Other places to look are non-profit organizations, embassies of countries you're interested in, or education ministries here and abroad. (Obvious hint: Be prepared to do the necessary paperwork and preliminary exams and certifications!)
And if all that isn't within your reach, it's time to bring out the hustler in you. Do your own fundraising by taking on part-time work, or save up a portion of your monthly salary in your full-time job. MBAs, unfortunately, don't come for free, and you also have to ask yourself another difficult question: Is an MBA worth it at this point?
The important thing to remember is that you need a game plan to pay for your master's degree. If there is a will, there is a way (to pay for grad school)!
Will I have the time to pursue the MBA?
You have the funds, you have your purpose. But do you have time on your side?
Pursuing an MBA while taking on a full-time job is not an unusual setup, but it's not easy. Are you ready to sacrifice your weekends to take on postgraduate education? Will you be able to handle running to your night classes after a tiring day at work? If your work demands a little more than the usual fixed 9-to-5, then you may have to consider finding another job.
For those planning to pursue your MBA full-time, and abroad at that, do you have enough funds to last you a year or two living in another country? Can you take two years off away from the country, or do you have to find a one-year program because you have responsibilities back home that you have to take care of by then?
And if you're taking up the MBA later in your career, you also have to consider your age — a younger candidate with an MBA might have a competitive edge in the job market over an older one, all other things considered equal.
As in many other things, time is your best friend and your worst enemy. Make sure to plan properly for your MBA before committing to it 100%!
Of course, there are more factors to consider before taking on that MBA, but these three questions should give you a good start. Good luck, whichever path you decide to take!