When is the right time to do an MBA?

by Hayley McCarthy, Recruitment Manager, MBA & MiF

An MBA is a huge investment of time and money, but more importantly, in yourself. Many individuals ask themselves “Am I ready to do an MBA” or “is now the right time” and whilst we cannot answer these questions for you, we can help you reach the conclusion.

I like to answer this question with a question: “Is there ever a right time to do an MBA?” There are many extrinsic variables to consider, for example work and life commitments beyond your control. London Business School’s MBA Recruitment team can provide guidance on whether you’re eligible for the programme, but whether you’re ready is a question only you can answer. It’s not something to be taken lightly. Just as there is no one typical MBA student, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all MBA and regardless of the average age or the average years of work experience we see in candidates, the most important thing to consider is your own readiness for the MBA.

Here are four questions to ask yourself to help you determine if this is the “right time”.

1. Are your career goals in line with what an MBA can offer you?

Our MBA programme offers you the chance to get to know yourself, in ways you may not have previously. With the flexibility and customisation of our MBA programme, it may seem challenging to determine the best path for optimum career advancement, so having at least an idea of how the MBA will be useful is important. This doesn’t mean you have to know the exact role, with the exact company, but rather your MBA should be a useful asset within your career toolkit, instead of the objective itself.

Reflection is the best way in which to research your career goals. Do you feel stagnated in your present role? Have you plateaued in your organisation and feel there is no upward mobility? Ask questions. Speak with friends, family members, colleagues about their career aspirations and don’t be afraid to share yours. Connect with LBS MBA Student Ambassadors and alumni; who better than to discuss readiness for an MBA than those who have successfully navigated through the decision making process and are now reaping the rewards an MBA can offer? If these discussions resonate with you, determine if the MBA will help towards them. By the time you apply for an MBA programme, you should be confident on what you are gaining from this investment.

2. Are you academically ready for the MBA?

An MBA is an intensive, though thoroughly enriching, experience and therefore being academically prepared is as important as being ready professionally. Every MBA applicant’s academic capacity is different. Those who submit a strong MBA application need to be self-aware. Aware of their strengths, aware of their weaknesses and will be able to position their MBA preparation accordingly and focus on areas of improvement.

Here at London Business School, diversity is a fundamental value. When students from diverse backgrounds and industries come together and share their experiences and skills, all participants learn valuable lessons they would have never otherwise encountered. Therefore, you don’t need to have a business related bachelor’s degree. What you should have is a grasp of quantitative analytical skills. This is why studying for the GMAT/GRE is an integral part of being academically ready. The GMAT lets you showcase the skills that matter most, in business school and beyond. This can be a great way to prepare yourself and to assess whether you have what it takes to keep up with the demands of your curriculum.

3. Beyond the classroom – your soft skill set

The MBA is arguably the most sought after form of graduate management education in the world and certainly the most well-known. Global business schools have seen a resurgence in the number of applications to MBA programmes following a four-year decline, according to a recent worldwide report.

Andrew Main Wilson, chief executive of the Association of MBAs, said the boost to applications proved that high-quality postgraduate management education was still desirable in a world that is “more competitive, global and uncertain than ever”. Nonetheless, employers still believe that whilst there are some skills that can be taught, others are far more complex, such as leadership, communication, networking, or as they are often termed, “soft skills”. This means that, rather than looking at just your academic and professional capacity, you also need to think about how you present yourself personally. As demand and competition grows for MBA programmes, so does what admissions committees seek in their applicants.

LBS is incredibly proud of its diverse MBA class, with more than 90% of the cohort being international. Therefore when applying, consider the following:

  • Are you able to work and communicate cross-culturally?
  • Do you have a global mind-set?
  • Do you exhibit the skills to blossom into one of the next generation of business leaders?

The MBA offers you this invaluable opportunity, and allows you to identify areas of development whilst building on those areas of skill. Without this self-awareness, it can be difficult to identify what you need from your MBA.

4. Are you financially ready?

Behind being ready on a personal level, is the financial cost of an MBA and we know that financial concerns are among one of the top reservations among prospective applicants. Half of survey respondents indicated not having enough money available to pay for their education (52%) and candidates, on average, expect to cover a greater share of the cost of their education through financial aid of some sort.

Do an inventory of your current income and outgoings, this exercise will allow you to understand what you can afford and how you need to prepare. This is likely be the most significant investment you will make in your professional career but, in order to see this return, be proactive in your research for financing your studies.

An MBA is a sacrifice. Cutting back on leisure activities and increasing personal savings may be necessary to help you get ready to finance your MBA. But, how else can you prepare yourself financially? Be proactive in your research. Our fees, financing and scholarships overview gives you a comprehensive insight into what options are available or you can use our funding search tool.

You should also seek to speak with students and alumni regarding living expenses and research any external funding options that may be available to you such as grants and educational loans.

Next Steps

The MBA Recruitment team fully understand the level of personal and financial commitment required to pursue an MBA and the magnitude of this decision. We’re here to provide you with the knowledge and support to make as an informed decision as possible.

So what are you waiting for? We’re here to support you through your MBA journey. Get in touch with the Recruitment team today to get started.


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