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Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going Back to School

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You’ve completed your undergraduate studies, built up some work experience, and now you’re considering going back to school for a graduate business degree. How do you know if that’s the next best step?

After years in the workplace, the thought of going back to school might seem daunting. But there are many benefits to be had from investing in yourself through a graduate degree.

For example, 89 percent of recruiters plan to hire MBAs in 2021—so a business school degree will help you stand out in a post-COVID recruitment market while helping you develop new skills, experiences, and a network of contacts in new industries.

Before you take the first step towards business school, take the quiz: Is Now the Right Time to Go Back to Business School? And ask yourself these five questions:

1. Will business school improve my quality of life?

Maybe you started your job full of enthusiasm and ready to make a difference, but the opportunities just aren’t there. Or you haven’t been given enough responsibility in your current role, leaving you doubting whether you’re reaching your full potential. If a higher income would improve your quality of life, going back to school for a graduate business degree can help with that even amid uncertainty in a post-COVID hiring environment.

If you want to make a change, a graduate business degree can give you the platform to do so. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Prospective Students Survey, more than one-third of candidates who choose to pursue graduate management degrees—like MBAs or master’s in management or finance—do so to change job functions, and more than one-quarter seek to switch industries.

Even if you are happy in your job, the numerous part-time and online programs available mean you can continue working while you go back to school for postgraduate study.

Get started: Find out which kind of graduate business degree might be right for you.

2. Will business school improve the skills I need to succeed?

Soft skills, digital skills, data analytics. These are some of the biggest skill gaps that employers are eager to fill. But improving your skills on the job—with a full workload and deadlines to meet and without guidance from an experienced practitioner—can be tricky.

If you find gaps in your knowledge or are promoted into a role that demands more from you, going back to school for a postgraduate degree can give you the opportunity to upgrade your skills.

Graduate business degrees, for example, can educate you about the interpersonal aspects of management and give you the skills you need to take on higher-level leadership roles. In GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey, employers identified problem solving and working with others as the most important skills for their new business school hires.

3. What ROI can I expect from business school?

While taking a year off work to go back to school can mean an opportunity cost—a year of lost salary—some full-time degree programs will more than pay off in the long term. Calculating ROI on business school can help you determine whether the time and cost will be worth it.

Keep in mind, ROI isn’t just about money. Doing a postgraduate degree in English Literature might be more fulfilling on a personal level than getting a high paying job. Even within business school programs, you may want to consider factors like lifestyle and flexibility when you’re comparing costs and benefits. Working out what ROI means to you will help you choose the right kind of graduate business degree.

Read more: What is the ROI of an MBA?

4. What do I want to do with my business degree?

Where do you want to be after your degree? Do you want a generalist degree that can be applied to a variety of industries and job functions or a specialist degree that will set you on a specific career path?

To achieve the best outcome for your unique goals, you need know what you want to do with your degree. Generalist graduate management degrees, like MBAs and MiMs, historically give people options for a wide variety of career paths while specialized master’s degrees help people accelerate in their chosen field by becoming subject-matter experts.

Before going back to school, you need to identify which kind of degree you want to pursue based on your individual career goals. You may find a specific business school programs that aligns to your unique career objectives. 

Don’t know which degree is for you? Take our interactive quiz: Should I Do a General or Specialized Master’s?

5. Am I ready for business school?

Once you’ve identified which degree program suits you best, you’ll need to make sure you’re ready for it. On a personal level, consider whether the timing is right, and your financial situation is prepared to accommodate the investment. Then, review the admissions requirements and check all the boxes before you apply. Graduate business programs typically require an undergraduate degree, some work experience, and a GMAT score—in addition to letters of recommendation.

Ready to dive into more about business school and how a graduate business education could help you get where you want to go? Explore information about why business school is a great investment.