Why MBA? A real head scratcher for every person who wants to pursue an MBA. It’s always a struggle to find an answer which sounds convincing and not desperate. To get an answer to this question on ‘why MBA’ and a few other questions on the MBA admissions process, we talked to Ms. Nupur Gupta. She is a Wharton graduate and also the recipient of the Wharton Indian fellowship. She also serves on the board of the US-based non-profit AIGAC, i.e. the Association for International Graduate Admissions Consultants. Currently, she runs her admissions consulting firm called ‘Crack The MBA’ which she founded in 2012. Nupur has successfully helped numerous applicants get into top business schools including the M7 business schools and the Ivy League business schools.
Here is what Nupur had to say on why should you pursue an MBA and what should you do in case you have no clue where to start your MBA application process. She answers questions on
- Why MBA?
- Why now?
- How to judge your ‘fit’ for the business school?
- When to start with your MBA application process?
Q: Nupur, how do you guide your students with the most baffling question of the whole admissions process, ‘Why MBA?’
Nupur – Let me answer this question on ‘why MBA’ with my own experience. I acknowledge that my situation and motivations might have been different from some other applicant. In my experience when an MBA feels like ‘a need’ more than ‘a want’, it becomes easier to answer this question.
Growing up in a family business background, I was fascinated by the prospect of someday running a business. With my experiences in entrepreneurship and post-merger integration, I realized that my ability to gain scale, manage finances and think strategically were limited without further education. At the same time, with my entrepreneurial ambitions, I felt the need to supplement my intuition with a formal understanding of business disciplines. The MBA felt like a real need vs. a want.
Q: That’s a real eye-opener. So, how should one decide when to pursue an MBA? It’s a valid question any adcom would ask – ‘why now?’
Nupur – I sincerely believe there’s no formulaic method for calculating when someone might pursue their MBA. I believe the timing depends very much on an individual’s specific needs and circumstances.
This is not to say that one can apply to an MBA program whenever they please. In fact, some business schools mandate a minimum of two years of work experience prior to when candidates can apply or enroll.
I believe it is incumbent on you (the applicant) to demonstrate why right now is the best time for you to apply to an MBA program, given what you hope to achieve in your career.
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Q: Tell us something from your experience.
Nupur – In my case, my goals led me to India and the timing correlated with the demands of the market. Not securing my MBA early would have prevented me from acting on my goals in a timely manner.
Therefore, as an applicant, think about the factors that you are balancing in your life. For instance, are there exciting work-related opportunities that can allow you to grow by waiting another year?
At that point, you need to think about the trade-offs you would make from going for an MBA vs. continuing in your existing job for another year. Another thing to think about is how future employers would perceive your candidacy if you apply for an MBA now vs. wait a year or two longer.
Q: That is very sound advice. So, once an applicant knows the ‘why’ and the ‘when’, how should he/she decide ‘where?’ What’s your advice on business school selection?
Nupur – This is a question that invariably tops candidates’ list of questions! Different people have different starting points here. If like me, you do not have access to people in your network who have gone to business school, the journey can seem arduous. But, take comfort in the knowledge that people have done it before you.
As an applicant, I must’ve had tens of hundreds of conversations with current students at my target schools and visited each school I ended up applying to. In fact, one school visit eventually led to me not applying to that school because I just could not envision myself studying there. I guess this is what the admissions pundits mean by “fit”.
I understand that school visits are often not a viable option for international applicants due to the time and costs involved. At the same time, there are alternatives available, such as business school admissions events held globally (especially true for New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, if you are an applicant from India).
Q: So, what’s your advice to applicants on the MBA timeline? How to plan an MBA application timeline?
Nupur – Starting the process early is the best gift that you can give yourself through your MBA application journey.
I’ve worked with an applicant who started his consulting process as early as 19 months before the first application was due, which was after he was done with the GMAT. Essentially, this individual started the process two years in advance. This is by no means a requirement, but starting early, when possible, can certainly be an advantage.
I think I started my research soon after I graduated from college. In other words, I started several months before I planned to make my applications. This gave me the opportunity to understand the process well, network with current students, visit schools, attend admissions events in my city of residence, and much more.
Takeaways – Why MBA
- The answer to the question ‘Why MBA’ becomes easier when MBA becomes a ‘need’ instead of a ‘want’
- To understand when to do an MBA, think about the trade-offs you would make from going for an MBA vs. continuing in your existing job for another year
- Pick a business school after assessing your ‘fit’ to its MBA program
- Start preparing for your MBA admissions process as early as possible
About the author
Nupur Gupta is the founder of Crack The MBA, an MBA consulting firm which has a 95% success rate to leading business schools globally. To get in touch, please send your profile details to firstname.lastname@example.org