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Alumni Application Tips: the right timing

July 07, 2016

Peter Lohmer on the decision to study for an MBA degree

An MBA can bring you many advantages, ranging from opportunities for personal and professional learning to higher earnings to excellent career development prospects. However, do not take the decision to study for an MBA degree lightly, and make sure you get the timing right. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when is the best time to take an MBA, but it helps to keep the following in mind:

Experience counts

Typically, MBA applicants are required to have several years of relevant work experience. An adequate professional background plays a significant role not only when it comes to increasing your chances of admission but also with regard to the program in general: The more experienced you are, the more you benefit from the training. Of course, this also applies to your classmates. Practical examples make up a large part of the program, and by sharing insights from your day-to-day work, you can enrich the overall MBA experience. What made the modules particularly instructive and interesting for me was the fact that my colleagues brought to the table a wealth of real-world knowledge from a wide range of industries.

If you graduated from university a while ago, you will have some edge over your classmates in terms of work experience. However, you may no longer be used to studying and coping with the challenges of student life. You need to keep one thing in mind: As an MBA student, you will have to do a lot of extra work, get little sleep and spend many of your weekends learning—all while pursuing your career, which is presumably demanding in and of itself. But: It will all be worth it. Trust me.

Combining a job, degree program and your private life

As far as the right timing is concerned, the following question is, arguably, the most important one: How does taking an MBA fit in with your private life? Get in touch with program managers or alumni in good time to gain a detailed understanding of the workload that the program requires. Think about if and how you can set aside the hours it takes to earn an MBA degree. Always keep in mind that your decision will also have an effect on all those who are close to you—your friends, your partner, your children, etc. Talk to them well before you apply and evaluate together if the time is ripe for taking on the challenge that is an MBA program. People who understand, support and encourage you when a deadline is approaching are worth their weight in gold!

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