There is a common misconception that a lot of people who go to business school are there to start their own business. In fact, most business school students will not start their own business after graduating, and a lot of them don’t even want to have their own business. You might ask yourself, “Why are people going to business school if they don’t want to start their own business?” It’s because the lessons learned in business school can be applied to a lot of different jobs and that lessons learned in business school are woven into a large part of our lives.

Let us think about that for a moment. For the normal Master in Business Administration (MBA) graduate, a lot of the lessons learned in business school will not be used, even after we start our careers. Even now, I can neither tell you how to calculate the weighted average cost of capital nor should I have to. Don’t get me wrong, fully understanding the difference between a saturated and emerging market makes post graduation life much easier, but so much of the homework and testing materials get lost after graduation. However, the MBA program does have a point; lessons learned in business school are woven into a large part of our lives. For example, you will learn how to file taxes and balance checkbooks. In addition, having an MBA can show an employer, no matter the field, that your experience and knowledge can be translated into making them money!


So what else did I get out of my MBA experience? For starters, I was taught by experts in their fields. Professors that have years of experience and insider knowledge about business is someone that you want to learn from. They will teach you things that you can’t get from just reading an online forum. They want to see you succeed, and they will help you along the way. It’s always nice to have the same professor throughout your college career than you can talk to, even after class has ended.

I also learned how to network with people and other classmates. It’s harder than just handing out your business card to people and expect them to call you when they either need something or they want to share some insider knowledge. You have to stay in contact with people that are in your network if you want to keep updated on everything business. Social media is a good way to stay connected. You can go on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and post a tweet, comment on someone’s post, and just keep in touch with people in your network. You can both create a personal page and a professional page to keep your private life and professional life separate.

As you might have guessed by now, the most important value of business school is in the conversation. Whether you decide to go full time or you decide to go to school part time while you drag yourself to class after a long day of work, the dialog in class will be well worth the tuition. For example, a great conversation that I can remember was in a luxury marketing class towards the end of my MBA. We discussed the personal meaning behind the expensive materials that each student had bought, and why they spent money on items that neither have many applications nor uses. Getting different perspectives of my classmates gave me a better understanding about the psychology of making a big purchase.

Another great piece of knowledge I took out of my MBA was how to better use tools to solve common business problems. While you should have a basic understanding of Microsoft Office, most business schools will enhance your knowledge to a degree and better help you with different applications using Microsoft Excel and Access. Being able to analyze and translate raw data into useful information is helpful to any company! While there is no tried and true way to solve all or most business or non-business problems, business school will teach you how to better examine the problem, from any and all angles. Gaining perspective is the best possible way to avoid mistakes, and the conversations that you will have in business school will give you perspective.

What Else Did I Learn?

While in business school, I learned that different business problems will require different problem solving and educational methods. Classmates and professors informally teach us through this conversation, what methods have been tried, what worked, didn’t work, and the methods to stay away from. The value of your MBA education will be based on how well business schools can adapt and promote solutions to these new problems and new educational methods.

As you further your business education, grades become less about having either the right or wrong answers and more about your ability to come to a sensible conclusion regarding a business problem, and the problems that the professors give you vary. For example, in the endless advancing business world, we see more security and ethics issues than the typical cash flow problems of the 1970’s. We also see more data breaches and less over expansions. The new MBA graduate will have to be more readily equipped to handle these problems, which is a bit different from the previous generation of MBA graduates. How we as a business community solve these problems will be contingent on the new minds that evolve from the business schools of 2016 and beyond.

If you are considering getting an MBA in business, then you will need to either take the GMAT (General Management Admission Test) or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). The GMAT has a wide range of questions, from English to advanced math. If you’re like me and you don’t test well, then do not be discouraged! Business schools will take into consideration all your qualifications. Even with a poor score on my GMAT, I was admitted to Providence College and Clark University Business School based on my previous work experience and undergraduate grades. Not all MBA Programs require the GMAT or GRE, and it is rumored that these tests will be phased out of the admission process in the future, but I would take that with a grain of salt.

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Do you have any questions for Dan about getting an MBA? Do you have an MBA? Where did you go to get your degree? Did you get a job immediately after college? Were you offered an internship? Where are you now? Do you enjoy it?

What advice would you give to people that are entering the program? What kind of person is best suited for an MBA? What should their strengths be? Do they need to be good in math? Should they take statistics? Which classes do you recommend? Which colleges have the best/worst programs?