Was My MBA Worth It?

by Tim on October 28, 2010

I’ve read a few articles recently about education and whether or not you should even pursue a degree. It’s true today that you don’t need a degree to be successful, especially with the face of business changing. College certainly isn’t for everyone, but I think that an undergraduate degree is worth the investment – if you’re smart about where you go to school and what you study. (Please, please don’t rack up $50k+ in loans – that’s no fun)

For me, I finished an undergraduate business management degree and then completed my MBA while working. My wife and I don’t have any children and we were both able to work while I went to school. I did take out loans to pay for the school (totaling $20,000) but I want to review with you why I think the MBA was worth it for me.

(The “personal value” assigned to each of the benefits of an MBA are essentially what I’d pay for each opportunity – what you’d pay is probably different)

1. Future in Education

I would love to teach at a university one day and having an MBA is a prerequisite to teaching. I love to learn, so working on a Ph.D. may be something to consider…but that’s another article.
Personal Value: $10,000

2. Love for Learning

Learning about business in even more detail was great. Sure, I could have found a lot of information by myself online. Sure, I could have simply purchased the textbooks and read them. The difference came in the interaction with the professors and students. Each student brought different experiences to the table and I was able to benefit from their successes and mistakes.
Personal Value: $3,000


3. Accelerated Courses

I attended Drury University and completed the MBA in 11 months. Their program allowed me to me to continue working full time and attend the classes in the evenings. Having the option to complete the 2 year program in a year was a huge reason why I chose to get my MBA.
Personal Value: $5,000

4. Connections and Networks

I met so many great people while working on my MBA and even joined with a classmate to start a marketing firm that he’s now doing full time. Sure, I could have networked in town, but meeting with 30 smart/driven people each night isn’t something you find everyday.
Personal Value: (Tried to put a figure on it, but can’t put a price on it)

5. Trip to China

The MBA program included a trip to China as the capstone class. The trip was included in the 20k tuition, so I didn’t have to come up with any extra to go. China wasn’t the first place my wife and I would have saved up to visit, but since it was part of the MBA, I was all for it!
Personal Value: $3,000

Well, I managed to justify the cost of the $20,000 MBA with the warm fuzzy figures above, but that’s just personal. Interestingly, I was able to advance at my employer twice in the last two years and the cost of the MBA can be financially justified relatively quickly. The promotions were not directly related to my MBA, so I cannot say it was an immediate payoff in and of itself. What I do know is that the personal value of an MBA was worth the cost for me AND we were financially able to afford the advanced degree.

What about you? Is an advanced degree worth it to you?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin October 28, 2010

To me no. That’s only because college wasn’t meant for me. It took me a while and a lot of trial and error to realize college wasn’t the right fit for me. The program you were in sounds fantastic, especially with the trip to China included. I agree with all of the points you made about it being worth it to you. It probably would be worth the price to complete it, but if it’s something you don’t fit in then it’s not going to be worth it.
It’s going to be different for everyone. You just have to find out if it’s something for you and not worry about it if it’s not.

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Jeremy October 28, 2010

I have just a couple of comments around #2. Yes you could probably buy all the books and teach yourself but actually obtaining your degree gives you a lot of value from an employer’s perspective. Whether it is right or not since you can say you have the degree it allows the employer to justify your educational background. In my case since I had my MBA it did mean I got a raise from my employer so the MBA was definitely worth it. Even though you can say you have the degree doesn’t automatically mean you are qualified for any specific job though but that goes into a whole different conversation about certifications versus qualifications. Lastly, I agree the interaction with the professors and student is an invaluable experience.

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Tim October 28, 2010

@Kevin – You’re absolutely right – I’ve met a ton of successful business people who didn’t get a degree in business.

Thanks for your comment!

@Jeremy – I think it’s great when employers value education; it shows the employees that the company wants them to excel and grow. The other nice part of the MBA…you’ll always have it : ) No refresher courses, no continuing education – once and done!

Appreciate both of your input!
Tim

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Nick Altrup October 28, 2010

Can we put a value connections and networks? I don’t think we can. But if we could…it might pay for the whole thing. Just my opinion.

Oh, and thanks for the sweet anchor text link back to my site. YOU ROCK!

As you are aware, I didn’t pay for my MBA. But there is no doubt in my mind you made a wise investment.

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Tim October 28, 2010

No problem bud. I enjoyed the program and liked the challenge, so it was definitely worth it in my opinion!

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CraigB April 13, 2011

I just found your site. I would have to say that my MBA experience is quite mixed. Yes, I am thrilled I have it but I don’t feel it added much to education. Now that can be the fault of the institution (which will remain nameless) or my own fault for not getting as much out of it as I could have. I’d vote on the later.

Managing a small business for the past seven years has proven to give me more education than any MBA program could. The degree looks good, but real world gives you the true education.

Thanks for the posts. I’ll keep checking in.

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Best Marketing MBA Program May 13, 2011

Getting an MBA is really eseential if you want to make it in the entreprenuerial

world. I am getting on getting an online MBA myself. Online education serves best

for me since I’m also working.

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Mark Terborg July 15, 2011

I think I might have just gotten the right opportunity at the right time, but my experience proves that it isn’t necessarily necessary to have an MBA or even a bachelor’s degree for that matter, to succeed in the business world.

While I was going to Purdue North Central I landed a part time job at Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP, a law firm with offices in Merrillville & Valparaiso. I graduated with only an associates degree in computer technology and transitioned to a full time IT Administrator position at the law firm.

About four months ago our Business Manager (who had an MBA) left. A couple months ago I was promoted to the Business Manager position.

I’m sure it usually is beneficial to have an MBA, but in my case not having an extensive college education wasn’t a hindrance to me. Let’s hope that in any future opportunities that arise for me my experience is considered more than my education. I do agree with CraigB above when he says, “The degree looks good, but real world gives you the true education.”

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Tim July 17, 2011

Thanks for your comment Mark and congrats on the promotion! It just goes to show that experience is obviously still highly valued. While a degree might show an employer that you’re dedicated to learning, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be a top performer. I’d much rather have an employee without a degree who is driven to perform and learn on their own as much as possible. To me that speaks more than a few letters after your name.

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Matt October 25, 2011

what have you learned from your MBA that has benefited your current employment position? I am getting my MBA right now, and I am curious to know where I will be in a year or so.

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Tim October 26, 2011

Hey Matt
I learned a few technical equations that allowed me to do cool calculations by hand…but no one in the real world does that :) To be honest, unless you’re constantly using the terms or equations you learn in your MBA, you’ll probably forget most of it. Practically speaking, I learned that while a degree may look good on paper, it’s up to you to prove that you’re able to handle new challenges. You may never use your MBA at your job, but it shows that you’re driven to learn new things, so use that to your advantage and learn all that you can when new opportunities present themselves.

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Matt October 26, 2011

Thanks TIm for the valuable comments.

Reply

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