Business schools are the next big thing, again. After a reported decline in the popularity of MBA programs in recent years, there is a noticeable rise. And the pandemic has a lot to do with it.
The demand for business degrees typically rises during recessions, says Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO and founder of QS. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic clearly caused a deep recession – so, MBA degrees are back in fashion.
In 2020, many people who have been postponing the decision to study at a business school for years, have finally opted to go for it. Their reasons were unbeatable – higher accessibility of the programs, cheaper loans from the banks, and the need to meet the demands of the increasingly competitive job market.
And the trend still continues. In 2021, professionals continue seeking business education despite its higher costs and career delays it causes. For all of them, it’s crucial to know how to pick the right business school that will give the best value for their money.
If you’re also wondering how to make the right choice, read on to get some helpful advice on the subject.
Decide If You Really Need It
The core question that you should ask yourself before even starting the choice process is whether you really need an MBA. Why do you want to go for it? Why spend hundreds of thousands and lose the whole two years of income? Are you really sure you need it?
The main reasons are the needs to:
- gain more knowledge on business-related topics and hone leadership and management skills;
- increase their value in the job market and land a higher job position;
- build new connections and expand professional network;
- help them make a career pivot.
If you’re thinking about attending a business program for some other reasons, maybe an MBA is not what you really need.
Look at the Ratings
Surely, one can’t rely solely on ratings when choosing anything – including a business school. However, some of the most respectable ones, like WhatMBA? by The Economist or business school rating by QS are good as a starting point for your search.
Sift through the most popular ratings, and you’ll get a general idea of what you can choose from. What options the best institutions offer, and how much the tuition costs? Make your personal short-list of the best options of your choice and start looking at each of them more closely.
Consider the Application Process
Many business schools simplified their application process during the pandemic in order to attract more applicants. Some have even dropped GMAT altogether, which has been a relief for prospective students.
Still, there are many requirements left on the list. For example, the applicants typically need to provide essays and a resume – but this can be easily taken care of with the help of essay writing services or similar platforms. Other conditions are more difficult to fulfill, like the above-mentioned GMAT, or letters of recommendation if the school decided to stick to them.
Count the Costs
The costs of the whole enterprise are usually the most sensitive subject for those wanting to get an MBA degree. Business education is famously expensive, so it’s crucial to weigh your solvency before you apply.
However, don’t drop a particular school the minute you see a hefty price tag. Instead, find out if the institution offers scholarships and consider taking a loan from a bank.
Many banks are offering loans with low interest rates during the pandemic. It may be a great opportunity to finally get the desired degree – and pay for it less and later.
Choose the Location
Do you want to relocate during (and, possibly, after) your studies? If the answer is yes, then first decide where exactly, and then start looking for schools in this area. If you plan to stay where you are, your choice narrows – you can only pick a program provided by local schools.
The best relocation plan is when you already have an idea about your future job in the country or city of your destination. For example, the company you’re already working for has a branch there. If this is not your case, carefully think about how you’re going to live on the site during your studies.
What are the living standards? The cost of living? The infrastructure? You should have clear answers to all these questions before you decide to relocate.
Do You Want an Online Degree?
But there are online degrees, too, you might say. Yes, there are, but mull over it – are they really worth your time and money? On the one hand, a school with a big name ranking high in top ratings is always impressive. But on the other – will you really get value for your money if you choose to study online?
The truth is, you probably won’t. Primarily because networking and socializing are a huge part of the study process in business schools. And what kind of networking can you get online? Surely, there are Zoom conferences and meetings. But then, there are other, less costly online networking opportunities. And for everything else, there are MOOCs, right?
Visit the School and Connect with the Alumni
Finally, when you’re got a few schools left on your shortlist, look even deeper into what they can offer. Visit webinars or school tours, connect to the students and the alumni in person or via social media, look for publications in the media. This will help you make the final decision and hedge all possible risks.
Business education still has value, the pandemic has proven. Therefore, MBA degrees can open new job perspectives, help graduates earn more, and/or make a desired career pivot.
Still, such education remains rather costly, so it’s vital to make a thorough research before choosing a particular school. Use the tips provided in this article to help you make the right choice!