Reasons NOT to Apply to Business School: Your Excuses and Our Answers


Reasons NOT to Apply to Business School: Your Excuses and Our Answers

May 3 2024 By The MBA Exchange
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If you prefer to remain on your current professional path rather than pursue an MBA program this year, it’s easy to justify your decision. There are just so many reasons to delay – or even skip – business school. Having provided free personalized evaluations to more than 25,000 potential MBA applicants over the past three decades, The MBA Exchange has heard them all! In fact, there are so many we need to summarize them:

1. My current job is going so well I’d hate to leave and lose my momentum

Yes, it’s very difficult to walk away from a position that has responsibilities and compensation that you find satisfying today. However, an MBA education offers the knowledge and network to elevate your responsibilities and multiply your earnings far beyond what you could expect by staying put.

2. Today’s economy is so strong I don’t want to take myself out of the market

Yes, employment is high in many countries, so companies are paying well and recruiters are on the prowl. But economies change. Historically, the average “boom to bust” cycle is less than six years. An MBA degree can help you thrive during future booms and survive future downturns.

3. Getting a student visa is so difficult these days I won’t even try

Yes, it can be challenging for international applicants to get past this hurdle. But this isn’t true for all applicants in all countries. B-schools and companies that recruit MBA graduates are highly motivated to help qualified international applicants secure student visas. They can and will advise you.

4. The cost of business school tuition is so high I don’t think I can afford it

Yes, attending an MBA program is expensive. However, schools don’t want otherwise qualified students to walk away due to personal finances. Need-based and merit-based financial aid is more available than ever. And the long-term ROI on an MBA investment is truly unbeatable (see point #1).

5. Media reports say that the traditional MBA degree is no longer relevant

Yes, there are many new, specialized graduate programs available. But there can be a downside to a degree that’s deeper and/or narrower than an MBA. If you have 35 or 40 more years ahead in your career, an MBA offers you greater breadth, flexibility and network to change direction.

6. So many people in my life rely on me that I just can’t step away from them

Yes, you have a boss, family and friends who consume your waking hours. But life rarely gets less demanding. So, taking time now to add new skills, meet new people, and create opportunities via an MBA is not selfish. Those who respect and value you will understand.

7. I don’t have a specific career goal in mind yet so I should wait until I do

Yes, it’s important to know where you want to arrive before starting a journey. However, crafting a credible, hypothetical goal is very doable – especially with an experienced admissions consultant. Then, as an MBA student, you can confirm, refine or even replace that goal as you gain the knowledge, perspective and network that only a traditional MBA education can provide.

8. There’s no rush. I can always apply to business school a few years from now

Yes, many applicants have the flexibility to pursue an MBA program later. But, there’s a “perfect storm” happening now in admissions. Overall application volume is down, and b-schools are competing aggressively for qualified admits to fill their classes. So, applying this year makes good sense.

9. I honestly don’t need an MBA degree to be successful in my career

Yes, your current role, company and industry may not require a b-school education. However, earning an MBA could distinguish you in ways that make you even more successful. And if there’s any chance you’ll change careers in the future, this education could be your “golden ticket.”

10. There are so many business schools that I can’t choose which one is for me

Yes, with more than 850 accredited MBA programs available, building a target list can feel overwhelming! But once you consider your qualifications, goals, and interests, the number of possibilities drops rapidly. If you feel lost, an admissions consultant can help you navigate.

11. My college grades, GMAT or GRE are below average for admitted applicants

Yes, it’s great to have stellar academic stats. However, MBA admissions officers consider all aspects of a candidacy – professional, personal and academic – before making a final decision. An expert admissions consultant can suggest ways to help you mitigate sub-par grades and scores.

12. I’m so busy with work that I don’t have any organizational leadership activities

Yes, this is understandable. Business schools love “overachievers” who have made measurable impact at work. But that’s not enough for admission to top programs. With creativity and persistence, you can add a non-work leadership role that rounds out your profile and requires less time than you may think.

13. I’m too young to apply, so I’ll just wait until I get more work experience

Yes, if you‘re below the average age of students at your dream b-school, this can feel daunting. However, the range for admits starts younger than many people believe. Some schools accept applications from college seniors! MBA adcoms value achievement and potential more than age.

14. I’m just not “worldly” enough since I’ve never traveled outside the country

Yes, it is challenging to become global if you’re strictly domestic. However, you can gain valuable insights about other countries without getting a passport and boarding a jumbo jet. Most cities have public events and volunteer groups that celebrate various cultures. Just find them and jump in!

15. I’m too young for an MBA, so I’ll apply when I have more work experience.

Although the average full-time MBA student is around 27 years old, the age range for admits starts at 22. Even if you’re a college senior, some top business schools welcome you to apply through their “deferred admissions” process. So, don’t just assume MBA adcoms will think you’re “too young.”

16. I’m too old for an MBA, so unfortunately I’ve missed my chance to attend.

It’s not unusual for a full-time MBA program to have some students in their late 30s or even 40s. Adcoms value the maturity and wisdom that a more experienced student brings to the classroom. But, if you’re still not comfortable at this age, consider getting an Executive MBA.

17. My employer will be so angry if they find out I’m applying to b-school.

Yes, it can feel risky to let your boss know you’re even considering an MBA. The good news is that b-schools understand this reality. So, to safeguard confidentiality, adcoms communicate with only the applicant. And they will accept recommendations from outside your company.

18. I don’t have an undergraduate diploma, so I don’t even qualify for admission.

This is not necessarily true. Regardless of their official admission requirements, many top business schools can and do admit highly accomplished applicants who lack undergrad diplomas. How do we know? The MBA Exchange has helped 6 non-degreed applicants get into top-15 b-schools!

19. My family and friends don’t think it’s a good idea for me to get an MBA.

Encouragement from others is appreciated by every MBA candidate. However, some of the individuals who care most about you may not fully grasp the rewards of attending business school. And some non-MBAs may discourage you because they’re jealous of your desire to learn, grow and succeed.

20. My profile is so common, I don’t think I’d stand out compared to others.

If your professional, personal and academic history feels undifferentiated, that just means you have not dug deep enough yet. By answering tough questions about your past and present, you can find the gold. And by adding a powerful post-MBA career goal, your candidacy becomes unique.

21. Acceptance rates at the top schools are so low I’d probably be rejected.

Yes, the most selective MBA programs admit only a fraction of their applicant pool. However, if you have a competitive GPA and test score, your chances improve automatically. And if you present an authentic, compelling candidacy, MBA admission can become a probability for you.