Is Now the Right Time in Your Career for an MBA?

The decision to attend or not attend business school should not be taken lightly. Here's how to know if now's the time to take the leap and enroll into B-School.

Perhaps you're a senior in college, determined to pursue a business career but unsure of what industry or function is right for you. Or maybe you're five years into your career, making decent money but feeling that your passion and potential are not being recognized. Or, you could be a senior manager at the mid-point of your professional life, wondering what it takes to rise above your peers to get a C-level position, or maybe launch your own enterprise.

Whatever your current status, now might be the ideal time to pursue an MBA education. But how can you really be sure? The investment of time and dollars is substantial, and you don't want to start something this big that you can't finish. Here are three key questions to ask, and answers that will help you decide:

1. Have others in my situation achieved great success by pursuing an MBA?

Individuals at every stage of life have benefitted from attending business school, whether through higher compensation, bigger jobs, rapid advancement, or deeper satisfaction. Do some LinkedIn searches on companies where you'd like to work, and check out the profiles of senior executives with roles you'd love to have. There will be no shortage of MBA degrees in those profiles.

2. What changes will I have to make in order to get an MBA education?

Your financial capacity, family responsibilities, and geographic limitations can majorly influence whether it's the right time for business school. It's essential to predict how your current circumstances will be impacted if you decide to pursue an MBA sooner rather than later. Economics and emotions cannot and should not be ignored. Write down a list of pros and cons — this can be an organized way to work through this decision.

3. What will my life be like in five/15/40 years if I don't go for an MBA?

Dust off the crystal ball and think about the future. When you envision the kind of life — professional and personal — that you want to have, how much of that is attainable without having a business degree? And how long will it take you to reach the critical milestones along the way? Will the knowledge, perspective, network, and prestige of an MBA help ensure and accelerate your version of success?

There's one final question: "Even if I want to pursue an MBA now, will I be admitted to a business school that justifies my investment, hopes, and sacrifices?" This is very difficult to answer without the experience, objectivity and expertise of an admissions advisor. You should start with a free evaluation of your MBA candidacy and admissions potential. Then, if you do have a realistic shot, you can tackle the other three questions and make a confident, actionable decision.

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