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 Post subject: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 pm
Posts: 89
I'm facing a tough decision and would appreciate your thoughts. I'm 23, newlywed, and starting out my career. I'm with a major oil company, which means great job security and benefits, and currently make six figures. My wife works at a job locally, but we plan for her to quit once we have our first child in a few years. I feel incredibly blessed to be in such a favored position.

My dilemma comes from holding a deferred admission to a top-3 business school's MBA program. The experience would be incredible and I would love being there, but financially it is a massive expense. My net worth at age 27 after completing the degree would be around $250,000 lower than if I had stayed in my current job.

I have no desire to do consulting or banking since I want to be a family man, and in fact would likely come back to my current 40 hr/wk career, in hopes that the degree would have enhanced my leadership qualities (my industry doesn't give priority to MBA-holders... it is more of a "gold star" that looks good but doesn't propel you anywhere).

My spreadsheet projections tell me I could retire at ~45 without the MBA, or 50 with it. We would also likely put off home ownership for an extra 5 years or so.

I go back and forth on this decision just about every month, and its driving my wife nuts. My two goals - of financial independence and of earning a very elite degree, appear to be in conflict.

If it was you, would you go?


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:14 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
I would look at the ranking of top MBA's worldwide. A top ranking MBA in europe is almost always cheaper, in a lot of cases in English, and it will give you abroad experience as well. Which would definately help out in the oil industry.

As you mention the MBA doesn't directly help your carreer but you're doing this for the experience as well, that's just one extra reason to look elsewhere. And if you ever go to a different company where MBA's do matter more it's as simple as adding a line ' one of the top 10 MBa's worldwide' to your resume.

I can recommend Nyenrode in the Netherlands (it is the university I went to myself) it has scored #1 as the best MBA worldwide for your carreer. Admission fees are ' only' 32.500 for the entire MBA. There's on campus living and such and an active student live. And, not unimportantly, the entire program is in English.

That's even if you add living expenses, and travel a lot less than the 250.000 you're looking at now. The price is so 'cheap' because there's hardly any private education in the Netherlands. Normal universities cost 1.300 per year. So if you need to compete with that as a private university you need to keep your costs quite low as well.
http://www.nyenrode.nl/Education/MBA/IMBA/Pages/Default.aspx

Please contact me if you have any questions about Nyenrode.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:49 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 pm
Posts: 89
Sonja, thanks for the reply.

European programs do seem to offer great advantages for certain people, and I may just be one of them. I don't think my wife would mind a year over there either :)

My current plan, if I'm not committed to my current admission when 2013 rolls around, is to apply to a few other schools and see what kinds of scholarships I can get at schools that offer merit-based aid. It might be wise to put a few European schools on that list too.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
I'd actually put some Asian schools on the list as well. especially indian as there won't be as much of a language barrier.


Good luck with your choice!


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:02 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:19 pm
Posts: 1741
Location: Ottawa, Canada
I wouldn't bother.

You said yourself that you're a "family man," which I read to mean you're more interested in focusing on your family than your career (a great mindset, by the way). You said you want to stick to 40-hour work weeks (career-minded MBA's are expected to put in much more). You already make 6-figures, and you said your company doesn't even really attach any extra value to MBA-holders. It'll set you back a quarter million dollars by the time you're 27, and push retirement out at least 5 years.

So ... why on Earth would you even be considering this? This looks like a no-brainer to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:27 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 pm
Posts: 89
kombat, you summarize perfectly my arguments for not going.

I have made every decision in life thus far based on the principle of maximizing financial assets, within reason. I chose my undergrad and grad schools based on scholarships. I chose a career path based on finding the highest paying, least time-demanding career I could. I limit my expenses.

Suddenly, though, as I stare ahead at a decade or two of doing this same career, I sometimes get a sense of low-level dissatisfaction. I'm working on world-class projects for an excellent company, but still... it sometimes doesn't feel "macro" enough.

So sometimes I just put on a smile and enjoy where I am, but other times I get the innate desire for bigger things. An elite MBA would be tremendously enjoyable in itself as an intellectual experience, and I have a notion in the back of my mind that perhaps having the "brand" would make it easier to reach the GM level someday (a very high posting in an oil company, and perhaps the highest one can go without beginning to make immense personal sacrifices). But then again, it could be a waste of a quarter million... and maybe that first kid, when they come, will give me all the satisfaction I thought an MBA might bring. I've heard they change your whole perspective.

Sorry to ramble a bit - your comment captured the heart of my struggle and it got me typing. Again, I appreciate the input!


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5387
Several years ago I was a C-level exec in a subsidiary of a public company. I was encouraged to get an MBA so I started looking. I found a couple of good programs at good schools - these were executive MBA programs so the format was a little different. As it happens, one was in Europe. Most though were regional.

When I presented my options to my boss and mentor he was not too impressed. He said it was all about networking. A good school without a good reputation is not worth much. A mediocre school with a great reputation that attracts top students is. He gave me a new list. Harvard was not on there...UCLA was, Stanford was, and a couple of places that no one has ever heard of yet have produced some spectacular students. This is a guy that had a White House appointment for a while so I respect his opinion.

The bottom line is, look for networking opportunities rather than what some self-appointed ranking agency or magazine says is elite.

And if you are just trying to fill a square, there are some great values out there and quality online programs. I have an MBA from what I consider a podunk school. I learned the same things I would at Stanford but I was not so impressed with my fellow students. If I were trying to impress someone I didn't. But I did satisfy my own curiosity and learned a lot.

By the way, I applied to Stanford and Sloan and was accepted to both. But I could not see spending that kind of money!


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:21 pm
Posts: 7
DoingHomework wrote:
And if you are just trying to fill a square, there are some great values out there and quality online programs. I have an MBA from what I consider a podunk school. I learned the same things I would at Stanford but I was not so impressed with my fellow students. If I were trying to impress someone I didn't. But I did satisfy my own curiosity and learned a lot.


I'm new around here but, I know a lot about higher education. This is my insight.

I agree with DoingHomework. It is ALL about networking at the end of the day. He is also correct in that Stanford v. a less expensive, less well-known school doesn't make much of a difference. You might not get the competitive atmosphere you would at Stanford. However, as long as you put in the hard work you will walk away with the same education. There are online MBA programs available, and if accredited, they are also very viable options.

By choosing a less-prestigious or even an online program, you can cut costs and reap the benefits of having an MBA. Keep this in mind when making your decision! Hope this helps!


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:16 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 pm
Posts: 89
You guys raise a good point that I've thought about a lot. If I were to do a program like Indiana Kelley online, the net cost to me would only be around $30k because of partial company sponsorship (they don't sponsor full time). My boss and mentors actually worry that if I left the company for two years for a prestigious degree, I'd be "two years behind" my peers in technical skills.

My boss has suggested they could move me to business planning for a year or two to coincide with a part-time MBA, something they don't normally seem to do for young engineers. This option seems to make the most sense, but it's hard to fight the draw of the prestige sometimes! Seeing that DoingHomework turned down Sloan and Stanford is motivating. Ya'lls input is quite helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:02 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5387
JMC wrote:
You guys raise a good point that I've thought about a lot. If I were to do a program like Indiana Kelley online, the net cost to me would only be around $30k because of partial company sponsorship (they don't sponsor full time). My boss and mentors actually worry that if I left the company for two years for a prestigious degree, I'd be "two years behind" my peers in technical skills.

My boss has suggested they could move me to business planning for a year or two to coincide with a part-time MBA, something they don't normally seem to do for young engineers. This option seems to make the most sense, but it's hard to fight the draw of the prestige sometimes! Seeing that DoingHomework turned down Sloan and Stanford is motivating. Ya'lls input is quite helpful.


It really sounds like you should be looking at "Executive MBA" programs. They are specifically tailored for situations like yours. They tend to cost a little more and you'd likely need to travel if there is not a good one near you.

Basically the way they usually work is that you attend classes physically 1 or 2 days per month, all day. This is usually palatable for a company to support if they really want you to get an MBA.

The most serious "elite" school for me was the executive MBA program at UCLA because it's an easy flight from me. But almost every good school and most not-so-good schools have an executive MBA program.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:27 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 pm
Posts: 89
My challenge with EMBA's is finding a school that would admit me, given the limited work experience I'll be applying with. It might be worth more research, but when I looked into it it seemed like 7+ years was the normal expectation.

My grades and GMAT make getting past a 3-year work requirement with 1-2 years no problem... but when they say "7-10 years management experience" I don't think I can quite cut it. Was there anyone in your EMBA in their mid-to-late 20's?


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:38 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
Perhaps that's an indication that you're better off waiting a few years and gaining some more experience before doing an (E)MBA?

But one thing that you mentioned in your first post that triggered me to recommend foreign MBAs is that you said it would be a fantastic experience. And that has a value as well, next to the 'get a network', 'good for carreer' there is a large personal development side to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:11 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:21 pm
Posts: 7
I stated earlier that I believe continuing your education and getting and MBA is a great decision, and I emphasized that you want your degree to be cost effective.

I came across this article that further emphasizes that. It states, "Just as undergraduate and associates IT majors are in high demand, MBA candidates with a focus in IT tend to earn significantly above the average starting salary, as do the top financial MBA students who can enter executive level finance positions." (http://www.collegecrunch.org/business/the-benefits-of-a-business-major-employment-and-compensation/)

Make a list about the salary and career goals you want to attain - then, figure out whether an elite or less prestigious MBA program will help you meet your goals faster than if you were to keep working. It's your decision - just thought I would offer some more advice.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:45 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:16 pm
Posts: 6
If you say your industry doesn't give priority to MBAs and treats them as "gold stars", have you thought about enrolling in some sort of http://executive-education.bentley.edu/programs-individuals? I understand the value of having an elite degree, but this will save you time and money and still looks great on your resume moving forward.


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 Post subject: Re: Elite MBA Worth the Cost?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:33 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:59 pm
Posts: 28
I spent 14 years at what many consider the blue chip oil company. I went there with a very elite MBA.

I've enjoyed the opportunities that my degree provided. And I still enjoy the prestige of the label. But I was lucky enough to have almost all of expenses paid for by fellowships, scholarships, and internships.

Your answer is in the numbers you've run. The degree is supposed to help you earn more and reach your financial goals sooner - not later.

I think that you're being "sold" by the "marketing" of the elite schools. Schools are businesses.

I don't think you need it, especially if you do not have interest in consulting or IB. Keep banking your $ and stay on your retirement plan. Take as many courses as you can at the oil company - large oil companies have great training departments. And perhaps later in your career your company will pay for you to go to an executive program.

Also, take some free online courses at the top US schools. I won't mention any by name but some of the top universities in the world make their courses available.

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