WHEN TO ATTEND BUSINESS SCHOOL
GO DIRECTLY TO BUSINESS SCHOOL
Entering business school immediately upon graduation has certain advantages. It will allow you to enter the job market two years later at a far higher salary than you could command with your B.A. In most cases, your salary will be higher than if you had been working for a similar period of time. Furthermore, with business school costs rising each year, your MBA will cost less than it would two or three years later.
GAIN EXPERIENCE, THEN GO TO BUSINESS SCHOOL
On the other hand, many students, especially those at schools emphasizing the case study approach, find they lack the work experience needed to gain the most from their courses. You may not feel comfortable in a class which is largely older and more experienced than yourself. Also, the initial income you realize with your MBA may not be as much as if you had worked prior to earning it. You may also find adding business school debts directly to undergraduate school debts is burdensome.
The benefits of postponing business school entry have been mentioned above. Work experience can give you a perspective on business school unavailable to the undergraduate. You will have several years to focus your interests and learn the language of the business world. You will be a more attractive candidate to many schools and in some cases, your undergraduate record will become less important in the admission process. Your initial salary after receiving your MBA will be higher than it would be if you had not gained experience. Furthermore, you may be in a better position to finance your study.
The drawbacks of postponed business school attendance are essentially monetary ones. Tuition and living costs rise every year you delay graduate study. In some cases, the life of a student is hard to adjust to after having been a wage earner. The loss of income and large outlay of cash may seem burdensome if you are used to a comfortable salary. However, it should be noted that the first two years of work often bring large expenses such as a car and student loans and you may not find the adjustment so radical. If you are delaying graduate school only to save money, you should consider quite seriously the expenses you will face. You may not be able to save as much as you had thought.
Whether or not you delay business school may be influenced by your choice of school. As previously mentioned, some business schools are seeking students with considerable work experience or strong evidence of leadership. Other schools make no statements on the topic and still others are less interested in previous work experience as long as the potential for success is clear. To get an idea of how important work experience may be in admission to a particular school you can look at the average age of an entering class. If it is over 25, there is reason to believe most students will have had experience. Some schools offer statistics on the composition of their classes; for others you will have to ask. In business school you will learn much from your classmates and from professional relationships which could span your careers; it may be wise to determine just who your classmates might be.