Round 1 and 2 decisions are out: whether you’re licking your wounds, gearing up for next year, or juggling admit-day invites, you’re probably thinking about the economy and how it will affect your MBA plans. A recent article in Businessweek about a survey issued by GMAC (read the full summary here) reported some interesting statistics regarding student decisions to attend business school and how they are affected by the economy. Here are some highlights:
- 51% (of 40,000 respondents) said the current economic climate did not affect their likelihood to pursue an MBA
- 36% said the economy spurred them to get the degree
- 13% said the economy discouraged them from pursuing the degree
- 1% said the economy would prevent them from pursuing the degree
Though concerns about the economy don’t seem to be putting a dent in MBA application numbers, financial concerns are still a concern for many students. As the article points out, “about 50 percent of mba.com registrants in 2010 said they feared the degree would be too expensive, while another 48 percent worried about incurring financial debt and student loans. About 22 percent said they feared that their job outlook would be uncertain because of the shaky economy.”
Trying to factor the economy into your MBA decisions? Remember that your pre-MBA work experience matters. In today’s economy, employers are looking at what potential employees can tangibly bring to the table and that depends to a large extent on previous work experience.
If you’re light on experience and got rejected from an MBA program recently, don’t take this as a negative development. Simply working for another year or two may not seem glamorous (especially if you were looking forward to the novelty of a new environment), but what’s worse is having graduated from a top b-school school, incurred massive debt, and secured a job, only to get laid off with little concrete work experience. In this case, you would likely be forced to take whatever you can get, which can be unpleasant since you may end up stuck in a third or fourth choice field, unable to switch until after 6 months to a year (at which point it will take some serious rhetorical skill to explain what just happened in a positive light to prospective employers).
If you already hold a master’s degree or another professional degree, it is especially important to wait before returning to the admissions game. As satisfying as admissions “hoop-jumping” can be, nothing replaces the kind of innovation and creativity that arises naturally from work itself.
The bottom line. Your professional and financial success still rests ultimately in your hands. Make sure to take the MBA investment seriously and to evaluate it with the sound logic you would use to make any business decision.