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MBA Expert Series: The Value of an MBA in Today's Economy

Posted in Test Prep on November 8, 2010 by

Welcome to another installment of our MBA expert series! This week, we were fortunate enough to sit down with MBA admissions expert Walter Hutchinson, founder of ApplicationAdvantage.com, the boutique international admissions advisory, and also founder of MBAdashboard.com, the admissions supersite powered by proprietary technology tools designed specifically for global business school applicants. Walter holds degrees from Columbia University and has lived in North America, Asia and Europe while advising professionals and students representing more than 20 countries.

This week, Walter responded to a very timely question, and one that is surely on many applicants’ minds:

What do you think about the value of the MBA in today’s economy?

The MBA is more valuable than ever, but not for the reasons that make it glamorous and trendy during economic boom years. Likewise, the criticism it has attracted during recessions or unfortunate corporate scandals is not deserved. The truth is that while anyone can start a business without an MBA, very few people can successfully scale the growth of a company without the advanced management skills taught in a business school program – not insignificant given that the vast majority of companies never make it to their fifth year.

Expectations about the degree and its true purpose need to be separated from hype and criticism – which means that you have to choose the MBA for the right reasons. If you think the MBA “will create a career”, you are setting yourself up for difficulty. If you recognize the MBA experience as an opportunity to leverage and sharpen skills aimed toward a particular set of risk and resource management goals, then it is more likely to be an asset.

This is why MBA admissions teams discourage the notion that an MBA experience is where people go to “find themselves” or “get their ticket punched.” An MBA does not cause or produce. It enables and facilitates. If you think about it, the reason it attracts so much attention – both negative and positive – is that it always matters. Love or hate the degree, very few major companies can survive without employees trained in advanced business administration skills.

People have for hundreds of years been applying structure and strategy to commercial activity. It just happens that in today’s contemporary, global and fast-moving economy, the tool which is recognized to comprehensively equip ambitious individuals with the skills for developing and leading enterprises from Beijing to Boston to Bratislava, is called the MBA.