Submitted by Christopher T. Carney, Director of MBA Recruitment at the University of Kentucky.
Working in higher education for over 10 years, the most common question potential candidates ask me is: “Is it better to consider graduate school right after undergraduate school or should I work for a few years, get some professional experience, and then pursue it?” Surprisingly, the timing of this important decision is at or near the top of most candidates’ list of questions, which makes sense, considering the old cliché of “timing is everything.”
But beyond timing, candidates also are in search of value. After all, most of us are willing to invest in certain services and products because we think they’re worth it. Of course we do! When it comes to the true value of graduate management education (GME) for many candidates, the following reasons for pursuing a degree stand out:
1. Peer Value – get connected. GME students love working on different projects and learning from other students with different academic and cultural backgrounds. This helps build their appreciation for teamwork and those all-important soft skills in communications, problem solving, and creativity. Furthermore, I would even argue that networking with peers could be just as valuable as networking with any other partner in the program.
2. Alumni Value – build connections. Students love meeting alumni because they can evaluate and learn from real people that completed the program and really did something with it. Yes, really! So, if you are considering a GME program, then see how much alumni are involved during the recruitment cycles. This could be a big indicator in how much (or little) they are involved throughout the program itself. In the end, the proof is in the alumni success stories, so hopefully they are informational and inspirational.
3. Reputation Value – remain connected. There’s something about the reputation value in validating that you’ve reached a higher stratosphere of credentials for career exploration. Not so much of a status symbol of putting an “MBA” behind my name, but in the increased confidence and versatility to conquer the world (figuratively speaking). In the movie "The Matrix," Morpheus said to Neo: “Don’t think you are, you know you are.” Perfectly said!
4. Giving Back Value – connect forward. You might be thinking that this is a reference to donating money to the Alumni Office. Well, that’s your choice and I know they wouldn’t turn it down, but I’ve always been amazed at how simple it’s been to find alumni of GME programs that are more than willing to take their own time from their professional commitments to appear at events to share their stories with prospective candidates. Thus, I believe there is tremendous value in helping others establish their careers by giving back by helping them understand your experience. And by doing that, you are paying it forward.
Thank you for participation and partnership in higher education.