An MBA Is Not Worth The Money

An MBA Is Not Worth The Money

Dear MBA,

You sound so good to my peers and look muy bien on my resume/LinkedIn profile but i’m not convinced that I’m ready to put my life aside to pursue you. We could do a lot of good together but I’ll be better off without you for now. I’ve not failed enough in the ‘real world’ to need your help just yet.  

Getting with you has been on and off my mind since I witnessed my dad acquire one of your sought after counterparts from Queen’s University. To follow in his footsteps and pursue the acquisition of your three letters has been quite the conundrum.

You’re extremely attractive, some would argue irresistible and a necessity for success. You must have some value as MBA candidates account for ~25% of graduate school enrollments each year. You manage to wheel the biggest student population among graduate degrees, you have some strong game. Unlike certain careers (e.g. doctors, dentists and lawyers), business careers don't necessarily require a graduate degree. All that the average corporate employee needs to do is build good relationships and deliver at the end of the day. Even though you’re not a prerequisite for business success, you have a way of courting so many people who don’t always need you to ‘make it’ in business. Your marketability is top shelf, that’s undeniable.

Are you really worth it?

Your benefits can vary depending on who is considering you. Factors to consider before anyone jumps into bed with you are candidate’s age, maturity, work experience, credentials, job status, financial situation, time available, career aspirations etc. None of these really matter if they don't know how you’ll help them execute on their long term vision. They need to know their end game and how you will help achieve it.

Before committing to you I need to figure how you would help satisfy my end goal of becoming a CEO.

Let's start by breaking down some of the most common reasons why people decide to pursue you:

  • Your good looks on paper

  • Fast track careers

  • Leverage for higher salaries

  • Learn from 'the best'

  • Grow network and net worth with like minded people

  • Temporary break from the corporate grind

  • Re-live the college experience / student lifestyle

  • Understand how to run a business without taking the risk of starting one

  • Fill in a resume gap while in between jobs

  • Acquire business acumen for those with non-business related bachelor degrees

  • Have a fancy degree to hang up on the wall (I’d like to say this is a joke but it’s really not)

Let's further filter these reasons down into three core benefits. 

1) Networking

Your net worth is reflectant upon your network. Individuals accepted into graduate school usually have solid academic backgrounds, strong leadership capabilities, good communication skills, and valuable work experience. The result will be a group of highly skilled people that will get to know each other, study together, socialize and build friendships that in the future may lead to business partnerships, job recommendations, investments etc.

People go to business school to build a solid professional network of bright individuals to leverage when needed.

2) Knowledge

All the education and experience gained from two years of powering through case studies and listening to experienced professors and successful industry leaders will boost a persons business IQ. All this knowledge is gained at very low risk as answering case studies poorly results in no real money or job loss.  

Knowledge is power, people want power therefore people want you.

3) Return on Investment (ROI)

They think you will instantly payback their investment. I’d have to consider two things before investing in you:

  1. Cost of being in a committed relationship with you for two years

  2. Incremental income I hope to you’ll help me generate

For me I would calculate the ROI by analysing if the potential salary increase will be irresistibly higher than the cost of being with you for two years.  

Some basic bachelors level math...

Let’s assume I make $50K/year and am ready to quit my day job to commit to you full time for two years.

Assuming i’m qualified to get into a reputable school in a full time program i’d expect to pay ~$200K total for all tuition, books, and all living and travel expenses over two years. Now I need to add the opportunity cost. This is the income that i’ll stop receiving during the time I spend studying and not earning (assuming I can’t work and study at the same time). If i stayed at the same job without any increase, for two years my opportunity cost is $100K.

So the total cost to pursue you is $300K.

If I immediately landed a job that I hope pays  at least $80K (+60% increase from last job). To calculate my ROI, the formula would be: ROI = Total cost / difference between new salary and previous salary

ROI = $300K / ($80K – $50K)

ROI = $300K / $30K

ROI = 10

This means, I would get my investment back in 10 years! No bueno...

I’m not OK with working another 10 years just to recoup my investment in you at worse case.  I could put that money into alternative investments such as real estate or equities and yield a better return in less time.  

Our future together.

I've changed my mind about you so many times based on what was relevant at the time. I’ve come to the conclusion that right now and in the foreseeable future we’re simply not meant for each other.

It´s been 4 years since I finished my bachelor in international business and I’ve been grinding away at the corporate world for the past 5 years. I have a long way to go and a lot to learn to be ready for my personal goal of becoming a CEO (whether it’s my own company or not), but I feel confident that I’ll reach that by continuing to actively acquire the needed relationships, knowledge and merit through my work and personal life experiences. I can’t just assume that receiving the right to your three letters via the mastery of case studies and networking will prepare me enough to become a true leader and successful business executive. I know that I learn best under pressure. This means doing, taking risks and failing. I have not taken enough risk and gone through enough failures on my own to prove that I can’t reach my goal of CEO without further studies with you. I'm ready to try and fail to the point of no return to see if I can achieve my goal without you.  

My close family and friends might be disappointed that they may never see us together but it’s my choice in the end. I'm going to take a risk and see how far I can get without your 8x10 backing. 

I trust that you understand. We’re just not meant to be. Not now and perhaps never. 


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