5 Ways Business School Can Ruin Your Life – and What to Do About It

80 Comments | MBA & Master's Programs - Using the Degrees to Break Into Finance

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5 Ways Business School Can Ruin Your LifeYou can’t be certain that too many things in life will absolutely, positively happen to you.

I can count my own list on one hand:

  • Paying taxes to the government.
  • Begrudgingly getting married at some point in the future.
  • And eventually owning a Doberman named “Hulk.”

Those are “life events” that I deem inevitable.

But what about career events in your life that will also make a long-term impact?

If you’re thinking about a career in investment banking, corporate finance, or anything else with “investment” or “finance” in its title, there’s one question that will come up repeatedly once you’ve completed undergrad and just before your hair begins to recede or you add pounds that you just can’t seem to shed…

“Should I go back to business school?”

Before you commit yourself to two years of drudgery and drinking, you may want to think long and hard about your decision before you take the plunge – unless you want to ruin your own life, of course.

Remember When Business School Had Value?

I don’t.

When business school offered a great ROI, I was still playing homerun derby with the neighborhood kids in my backyard.

As formal education became less of a luxury and more of a necessity over the years, almost all graduate institutions saw an increase in applications.

Over time, more and more professionals began to seek business degrees from the top schools in the world to boost their intellectual capital and their future earnings potential…

So it was only a matter of time before other educational institutions with lesser reputations started to take advantage of that trend.

After all, everyone wants more responsibility, prestige, and pay, but not everyone can get into the top schools.

Enter part-time business programs, for-profit schools offering business degrees, online graduate schools, Executive MBA and distance education programs, just to name a few.

The US alone has more than 600 “business schools,” but not all of these are officially accredited in business by the AACSB – and even fewer are entered into the composite rankings for US News, The Economist, Financial Times, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

As if choosing to attend business school weren’t already difficult enough, choosing the right program seems to multiply the pressure.

And in the ranks of finance, it’s becoming less and less common to have only a bachelor’s degree – unless you already have an amazing network, specialized training, a prominent certification, or something else that sets you apart.

But if you’re not careful, you could end up making a very costly mistake – not only in terms of money, but also in terms of opportunity cost, personal sacrifice, and your own life over 2 years.

Usually, attending the right business school is a net positive.

But there are dozens of ways that it could turn into a disaster instead – five of which I’ll go into below:

1. Congratulations! You Now Owe More Than $150K+ USD in Student Loans.

Here’s the short and blunt version: if you are not attending a top business school and you have your sights set on investment banking or private equity and you’re paying for the program yourself, you’re making a big mistake.

Sure, if you worked in marketing for a few years, then you go to Harvard Business School and take out that $150K loan, but you land an offer at a hedge fund afterward, your earnings could easily be a multiple of what you paid in only a few years.

Just one problem, though: both top business schools and those ranked well into the #80’s and #90’s cost the same amount ($50K+ per year)… and the lower-tier schools offer nowhere near the ROI that a top business school can provide.

So if you have your heart set on making a “career change” into a field like investment banking or private equity but you can’t get into one of the top business schools, well, you probably want to reconsider your plans before you end up with a $150K liability.

Before you sign your life away for student loans, ALWAYS do your due diligence and weigh your expected return against your initial investment.

Yes, there are some paths into high-paying jobs that don’t involve attending top schools (see below), but you have to be very careful about what the school claims vs. what students there actually experience.

Student loans are serious debt contracts that can burden your life well into planning for your first child’s education – and if you’re not careful, you could ruin your life before your career has even begun.

2. “I Got My Degree From a Top Business School. I Make a Lot of Money. I Hate My Life.”

How many times have you heard, “Do what you love, and if you do, you never work a day in your life?”

Someone should have also branded the saying, “Chase the money after business school instead of what you really want to do, and you’ll be on heart medication in no time.”

Yes, business school is expensive, but if you crafted a plan prior to entering, then you knew the costs going in and accepted the challenge.

You should have already planned out what you were going to do afterward before you even began applying to schools – otherwise, you’ll feel pressured to take a job because it pays well or because you are chasing the prestige of working for a particular company.

I can almost guarantee that you’ll be miserable if you don’t take the time to think about what you want to do and where you want to do it long in advance.

Then it’s only a matter of time before you quit, get fired, pick up a drug habit, or begin your prescription medication for medical-related problems brought on by stress and depression.

NOTE: This is not a contradiction of point #1 above because, believe it or not, there are jobs that don’t induce as much misery as some of the options discussed on this site.

Also, there are ways to reduce the cost if you’re attending a lower-ranked school (e.g. scholarships can be more common) and aren’t necessarily using it to move into finance.

3. “I’m in Business School to Create a Better Future for Myself. Why do I Want to Cry All the Time?”

Choosing to attend business school means accepting a personal challenge.

Life does not stop simply because you chose to attend business school and, unfortunately, it also means that every aspect of your personal life will be probably be compromised to some degree.

You’re hungry? Great. Get used to cooking – for the time being, no silver tuna.

You’re tired? Great. Sleep in the library – your apartment is only a place for you to put your belongings.

You’re emotionally unstable because of the workload and interview slate? Great. Call up one of your close friends and let it out. That is, if they pick up given that you’ve virtually ignored them since you arrived on campus.

Your health is deteriorating? Great. Try running to class in the morning – given that you studied or drank until 3 AM last night, you could use it.

Your relationship is hanging on by a thread? Great. Cry in between employer information sessions and make an appointment to see the nearest bartender once your classes end for the day.

Simply put – get ready to do the best unicycle and juggling act you’ve ever attempted. Although your professional life could be headed in the right direction, your personal life could be in shambles if you don’t work to actively maintain it.

Oh, and unlike an investment banker, you won’t even get paid for this juggling act.

4. You Work So Hard That You Don’t Learn Anything.

This varies quite a lot depending on the school you select.

Business school is a marathon and if you don’t pace yourself, the workload, interview slate, club activities, and everything else associated with school can overwhelm and ultimately trample you.

But despite rumors of everyone drinking 24/7, there’s still a huge amount of work to be completed, which means that there’s no way you can focus 100% on every single class (well, unless you want to miss the on-campus recruiting and activities).

If you’re focused on finance, the optimal choices are obvious: accounting, financial markets, and investment-related courses should all be top priority. And you also need to take personal time out of your days to do ancillary reading and really master the material.

For the other courses you may not be so excited about, you’ll set your study schedule to “autopilot.”

You may just need to “study for the test,” and then do a mind-dump afterward to make mental space for the next class or the more relevant material.

I fully support this idea – and if your professor enjoys cold calling during class, I suggest Adderall.

5. Business School is Going to Make My Career!

Yeah, that won’t happen.

If you were intelligent, hardworking, resourceful, and intellectually curious prior to business school, you will be the same person after – just with a piece of paper that confirms what you already possessed.

If you were “second string” before business school, you will probably remain second round talent unless you worked diligently to change your habits, applied yourself, and used your time in business school to become a better professional.

But business school is just a name. It may matter in terms of where you start your career, but your performance record and personal network will carry a lot more weight down the road.

People from top schools still fail at start-ups, still get laid off and fired, still get passed over for promotions, and still get overworked and abused (figuratively or literally) all the time.

No top-tier name insulates you from any of this.

So, How Do You Avoid Ruining Your Life with Business School?

Most of this boils down to “dip your toes in the water before you jump into the deep end of the pool.”

But I’ll be more specific:

Determine Your Goals Before You Even Apply

The most common “ruin your life in 3 easy steps” situation I’ve seen goes something like this:

  • You’re dead-set on getting into IB or PE…
  • But you can’t get into a top school that large banks and funds recruit at.
  • So you go to a 2nd or 3rd tier school instead, take out $150K+ in loans, and then end up with a job that barely pays enough to cover your living expenses and loan payments.

In this case, the solution is simple: don’t go to business school if you can’t get into a top program.

Of course, there are other reasons you might attend a lower-ranked school anyway:

  • Your company or someone else is paying for it, so you’re not assuming a massive liability to attend.
  • You’re not planning to use the degree to change careers, but are instead looking to improve your skills and/or move up at your own firm.

Both of those are potentially good reasons to take the leap, but you need to figure out all of this well in advance.

And If You Can’t Get Into a Top School…

Yes, it’s true that most large investment banks and mega-funds recruit primarily at the top schools and that you’ll have a very difficult time getting in if you’re not at one of them…

But if you’re interested in going into a field like asset management, you don’t necessarily need to go to a Top 10/15 school to have a good shot at getting in.

The same applies if you’re OK with working at a smaller fund of any type, or moving into a corporate development or corporate finance role at a normal company, or a lot of options outside of pure IB/PE.

Here’s what the “decision tree” looks like:

  1. If you want to make a career change into finance and you can get into a top school, go there.
  2. If you can’t get into a top school, consider fields outside of banking and private equity.
  3. If you can’t get into a top school and you absolutely refuse to consider other fields, please don’t go to business school unless you want to crush yourself with $150K in loans.

Do Your Own Due Diligence by… Talking to Real People

No, “searching online” or reading anonymous accounts from strangers on message boards does not count as doing serious research on business school.

If it is not one of the top 10-15 schools that large companies recruit at, you really need to go there in-person and talk to real students to see how well they’re doing.

Since there are hundreds of “business schools” these days, it’s increasingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

And there’s no way to do that until you visit and see what’s happening on the ground.

Easing the Juggling Act

There isn’t much you can do about the “juggling act” unless you can eliminate some of what you’re required to do each day.

Students sponsored by their companies have a big advantage here because they don’t have to balance recruiting on top of activities, classes, and everything else.

Assuming that you are interested in leveraging business school to recruit at other companies, though, the best way to ease this juggling act is extreme focus.

Don’t join 25 activities and also recruit for 10 different roles across 5 industries – if you cut back and focus on only 2-3 you’ll get much better results and you might even preserve a drop or two of your sanity and pre-existing personal life.

The same applies to classes: while you have to get the work done, putting 100% of your effort into all your classes is rarely a good use of time.

Don’t Assume an MBA is the Answer to Everything (or Anything)

This one goes back to a point made on this site years ago: yes, you can re-brand yourself with an MBA, but you can’t just jump into a random program and expect to get results from it without doing anything prior to enrolling:

  • If you’re making a career change, have you completed the all-important pre-MBA internship? If not, why would any employers believe that you’re truly committed to making the change?
  • If you’re moving into a highly competitive field like investment banking, have you already started networking with alumni months before school began? If not, how do you expect to compete with students who have, and with students who have spent years working in that field before?
  • What if you don’t get into your chosen field? What is your “Plan B,” and is that plan still financially viable given the amount of loans you’ll take on?

An MBA may not be the answer to everything – or to anything – but it also doesn’t have to ruin your life.

And with the right planning, it just might be one of the few things that absolutely, positively makes a positive career impact on you.

About the Author

is a philosopher trapped inside the body of a writer, trapped inside the body of an alternative investment analyst. He's worked in investment banking and alternative investments and his favorite breakfast food is ESPN.

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80 Comments to “5 Ways Business School Can Ruin Your Life – and What to Do About It”

Comments

    • says

      Not necessarily, but the point is that juggling classes (enough to pass) + activities + networking + recruiting takes a lot of time and classes are arguably the least useful of those

  1. Gregory says

    Hey,

    I currently go to UCLA. I’m from HK and I want to work in HK. What are my chances of getting in? I know that UCLA doesn’t really have an undergrad b-school…-

    Also, I’m open to the idea of working in Singapore as well, although I have no right of residency there. Should I apply to Singaporean banks?

    • says

      It depends, if you have native Mandarin skills you stand a good shot in HK assuming the rest of your qualifications are good and you have solid work experience. Singapore: I guess? I think you would have a much higher chance in HK if you are from there.

  2. Amit Mohandas says

    Hi,
    I am a banking undergraduate student from India with the intention of kickstarting my career internationally in investment banking. Do you think a masters degree would be an appropriate choice for me or should I work in India for a few years and then go for an MBA ?

    • says

      It depends where the Master’s degree is from and what you are using it for… if you can get into a top school then that is better / less expensive than an MBA.

  3. Rohan says

    And i thought getting married atleast in the western world is down to the individual and marriage is not something that ‘eventually ends up happening’

  4. Adi lee says

    Just finished my bs in bus adm. Currently under contract with TFA for two years. Considering top ten MBA program after two years. Does TFA carry any weigh in resume padding?

    • says

      It helps, but it’s also a fairly common background to come in from. So you would still need the usual leadership positions / activities to set yourself apart, TFA by itself would not be enough.

  5. B School Advocate says

    I’m a huge fan of this website but I completely disagree with this post.

    I attended a top 20 – 25 Business School and used it to break into Investment Banking. I’m making twice as much money as I was making before I entered Business School. I am also a much more relaxed and happy person to be around – and I feel much better about myself.

    In addition, I learned a lot and I’m much more confident and efficient at work now than I ever was before.

    I also walked away with dozens and dozens of amazing friends and memories. I use my MBA connections all of the time with both work and my social life.

    When I look at the majority of my friends that didn’t attend business school, most of them appear unhappy with the fact that they are stuck in the same role they’ve been doing for years. In addition, most of them are jealous that they don’t have the friends / network that I obtained while in school.

    Business school is not for everyone – but I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    • says

      If you used business school to make a career change and get into investment banking, then you used it the right way.

      The author was referring to cases where people don’t have a clear idea of what they’re getting into, or of how they’ll use it afterward, or where they are NOT going to the top schools.

      None of that applies to what you described.

  6. KB says

    B school advocate, It’s not disagreeing when you did exactly what he advocates… (Going to a top tier business school.)

  7. Dr Aligbe Peter says

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks for your messages.
    I’d liked to ask for your advice on my choice of courses.
    I’m a medical doctor who wants to go into business. I’m thinking about getting some education in business school to help sharpen my business acumen.I truly can see a lot of business opportunities in medicine especially in Africa.
    Please can you help me choose a good school and possible courses to start with?
    Thanks for your anticipated prompt response.
    Dr Aligbe O. Peter,

    • says

      Sorry, I don’t know much about business medicine or where you want to go if you want to work in Africa – I assume that the top schools in the UK / Europe would be a better bet due to proximity, but someone else would know more about this one.

  8. Jay says

    Hey Brian,

    Quick Question. I recently got into a combined JD/MBA program that is a length of 3 years. It’s at Columbia. I graduated from Stern UG, passed all 3 levels of CFA and am currently working at a BB. Do you think I can still work and do the program?

    • says

      Depends… if you’re an IB analyst, no, but if it’s more of a job with normal hours, yes, you could probably do it although you would have almost no free time outside of school and work.

  9. Oliver says

    Brian,

    What would be your thoughts on MBA programs for analysts that have finished their 2-3 year stint and are looking to either a) move on to PE/HF roles vs. b) continuing in IBD as an associate (assuming MBA is not firm sponsored)

    Thanks!

    • says

      They can be helpful, but I don’t think you really need it for PE/HF and it won’t help much there if you already have solid experience, it might actually be more helpful for continuing on in banking as an associate.

  10. Phil says

    Just finished B school from top 30, which is a fun way to say ranked between 25-30. Landed a good job in corporate M&A. The reality is almost 200k students get an MBA per year. With those types of numbers it is easy to see that the majority will not become incredibly wealthy in a few years (myself included). HOWEVER, if you didn’t get a BSBA in undergrad, unless you get out of work everyday and head to the library like Will Hunting, you are only going to get an education in your current job. If you want to switch roles and companies, perhaps the best way is an MBA, but it is expensive! Go with 1) a good plan 2) a good fall back plan, and 3) reasonable expectations. It is an education that you pay for, not a position afterwards. You’re guaranteed absolutely nothing except 199,999 peers who will claim all the same things you will.

  11. Jack says

    What if you have a plan, but can’t get into a top business school? In such a scenario, should the top business school idea be scrapped?

    • says

      If you can’t get in, I would just look at the schools you can get into and see what opportunities can come from those… for example, normal company corporate finance? Smaller AM firm or HF? Something else entirely? And then decide whether or not it’s worth it based on the requirements and expected earnings.

  12. Joshua says

    Brian,

    1) I know that you didn’t attend B-school… any regrets at all? Still in the works, maybe?

    2) Also, you mention IB and PE alot as good reasons to go (jobs wise)… what about MBB consulting?

    3) Do you know of anyone that attended B-school and it absolutely changed their life (for the better)? Any that absolutely ended up hating it (I’ve heard some drop out just because they weren’t ‘learning anything’?

    • says

      1. Nope. I am honestly too old to have a good shot at top business schools now (over 30 and it’s difficult). It wouldn’t be very useful for me unless I wanted to move back to the corporate world.

      2. Yes, but we enjoy laughing at consultants here. :) But in all seriousness, yes, MBB can be a good reason as well but it’s arguably even harder to get into consulting afterward since there are fewer slots.

      3. Hmm… not personally, no, because most of my friends had attended top undergrads and gone into IB/PE/VC so it didn’t make a huge difference for them. I can’t think of anyone who hated it necessarily, but I have heard lots of stories of people who spent a lot on lower tier schools and didn’t get much out of it. I’ve probably seen and heard more positive accounts, though, at least personally – many readers have used business school to get into IB from a different career before.

  13. Jay says

    Hi, I am majoring in applied math at one of Ivys, and I am interested in quantitative finance roles such as FICC trading rather than in investment banking positions. However, the number of jobs offered in trading or quantitative finance positions seems relatively low compared to banking analyst positions right out of undergrad. Moreover, detailed median and mean salary info released by Carnegie Mellon and Berkeley (other top schools are on par, but they do not publish as detailed salary info) suggest salary level after 1-year M.S. [quantitative finance–such as financial engineering, financial math] degree is much higher than salary level attainable right out of undergrad. 1)Do you suggest that I go on to 1-year graduate school in quantitative finance (at top 5-10 schools) even if I somehow secure full-time job after graduation for potentially higher salary? 2) I am international student who is a non-native Mandarin speaker. In the long-run, I would like to move to Hong Kong or Singapore due to geographic proximity to my families and friends. Would it be easier to make transition from U.S. to HK/Singapore in quantitative finance roles than in banking positions?
    Thank you for reading this comment.

    • says

      1) I would only do a 1-year grad degree if your job requires it or you know for a fact that by doing it, you will earn higher pay. In some cases that is true, in some cases it is not. I do know some quant funds like to see that but it depends on the fund.

      2) Yes, but not sure how big the industry is there. It is probably bigger in HK out of those two but still small compared to the US.

  14. Jaciems says

    Good thing the MBA I am planning to attend next year costs less than 8k, takes 12 months to complete and is still pretty well recognized world wide.

  15. harry says

    Hi Brian,
    Been a regular at your website & really appreciate your effort.
    I am a 26 year old MBA graduate from a top 5 college in India and very much interested in breaking into IBs/PEs. As of now I have worked with a market leading FMCD company for the past 2 years handling independent P&L for the region. Also have completed 2 levels of CFA and hope to complete the 3rd soon. My queries are: 1] even if I get admits into say the top 10 US b schools for a 2 yr full time MBA, what are the chances of me landing a job in IBs/PEs , given my profile & lack of prior experience in finance??
    2] Would my prior work-ex and education be counted when I apply to IBs/PEs??
    3] Would a 4-6 month internship prior to the course help??
    Thanks.

    • says

      1) You would have a chance, but would need to do some serious networking and get some type of pre-MBA or school-year internship first to maximize your chances.

      2) Yes, but they tend to “discount” anything outside of those fields so you wouldn’t necessarily receive full credit for them.

      3) Yes, definitely, as long as it’s relevant.

  16. Keith says

    Hi Brian,

    I have been an avid reader of the site the last few years.

    I wanted to ask you about how you go about hiring for your own startup.

    I assume that you hire BOTH full-time and part-time employees for your company and website, and you make the final decision of whether to hire somebody or not for this website/company.

    I know this is a finance job focused website, but in the startup world, how much relevance is put on if you went to a “target school” or “non-target school”, and whether you have advanced degrees such as MBA’s, Master Degrees, PHD’s, etc.

    I truly am just wondering from a personal perspective, how much emphasis do you put in whether or not you hire somebody based on the school he/she went to and the degrees that he/she has?

    • says

      I literally don’t care at all as long as someone can do the work. If a 10-year old sheep herder living in Kazakhstan came to me and could build Excel models like a wizard, I would hire him (well, if child labor laws allowed it).

      I never even ask people where they went to school or where they worked – it’s all based on results and trial runs.

  17. Joos says

    Hi Brian,

    I went to a state school and got a PharmD (doctorate in pharmacy, a professional degree). Since graduating, I found myself working in pharma BD&L at a top pharma company.

    The more I gravitate toward finance and the further from the sciences, I wonder if I need some MBA or McKinsey branding to grow OR transition into venture capital/IB. Could you provide your thoughts? Thanks

    • says

      I think it would be helpful, yes, because otherwise you don’t have much of a business background on paper. So I think in your case an MBA would make a lot of sense assuming that you could get into one of the top 10-15 programs (or maybe even programs outside of that if you want to do VC instead).

  18. Keith says

    Hi Brian,

    I wanted to get your opinion on something, since you have been out of college for several years now.

    I was wondering how much weight do companies in Finance put on in your involvement in college, specifically highly-selective student organizations.

    Specifically, how important are the “old-boys” networks that are present at colleges and universities in the world. Examples include: social fraternities/social sororities, business fraternities, secret societies (exp. Skulls and Bones), Honor Societies (Phi Beta Kappa), etc. Essentially, I am asking how important (if any) is it to be part of exclusive social groups and organizations in college in terms of professional/career success?

    Also, how much weight do companies in Finance put in being a Division 1 Athlete/Varsity Athlete in college versus just a normal student, who is a non-athlete?

    Do you feel that being part of some “elite” group/society/club, makes a difference in a person’s career success in Finance, and in general in ANY Professional Job/Career in the short-term while in college(in terms of getting internships and first job out of college), and long-term throughout a person’s career until he/she retires?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      These networks can be important in the networking/interviewing process. If the interviewer you are interviewing with was in same network/frat/club you are in, there’s a high chance that he may favor you over another. These clubs/frats may also have networks for alums in cities like NY so I think you can also benefit from such networks.

      I think having a division 1 athlete credential on your resume can only help, though I’m not sure if it will make a huge difference unless the interviewer you’re interviewing with is a huge athlete himself/herself. This may be slightly different for S&T roles because quite a lot of traders/salespeople like to hire athletes.

      It can definitely help in the shorter and longer term given the network of people you meet/will meet as I’ve explained above. With the above being said you don’t need to be a part of such clubs to excel in finance.

  19. Kushagra Sharma says

    Hey Brian,
    I just had a few questions about IB/VC.
    First, right now I am a junior at a US target on the east coast majoring in Comp Sci and minoring in Finance. My eventual goal is VC in Silicon Valley.
    If I wanted to go end up VC, what is the best path to get there? Would it be a Product Manager at Google/Facebook/Apple, i-banking, consulting, or something else?
    Secondly, would it be better to go IB/PM/consultant to VC, then b-school, then VC or straight to b-school.
    One last question regarding my choice of business school. If I wanted to end up in Silicon Valley VC, would my only choice for an MBA essentially be Stanford (or maybe Berkeley) for recruiting, or would it still be possible to get into Bay Area VC from Harvard/other non West Coast MBA programs.
    Thanks for your time!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think being a product manager at Google/FB/Apple is probably a better path, though IB/consulting can help too. Transitioning to VC from the 3 routes you mentioned can be challenging. If you can move to VC from these routes without going to b-school, then I’d do that. Once you’ve entered into a reputable VC fund, it is likely that you won’t go back to school. So I’d say b-school then VC is a better option – http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/break-into-venture-capital/

      Yes, Stanford is probably your best bet. Harvard is another good one.

  20. Long time reader says

    First time I came away from an M&I article unhappy. I’m a first year analyst in a boutique PE in India and business school simply CANNOT be tougher than life in PE (can it?). I’ve been mulling over going for MBA abroad after a year or two of work, but this article just left me depressed for some reason. Sigh.

    All the bullshit aside, the real reasons I want to go for MBA – 1) Broader network, better PE fund – being in a boutique, my networking efforts are putting me in touch with people only in other boutiques. I’m aiming for MM/BB.
    2) Missed a college life – CA didn’t permit me to go to full time college – only regret of my life. Petty, but there it is.

    Would like your suggestions on whether MBA is worth it for me or not. Thanks yet again for this website!

    • says

      Yes, if you are looking to break into another region / bigger companies and get a bigger network, business school may be helpful for that.

      And you’ll be able to afford it / repay loans given that you can go back into PE afterward.

      So I think the question comes down to: how certain are you that you want to move abroad / go to a much bigger firm? If you are very certain you want to do one or both of those, it makes more sense in your case.

      • long time reader says

        Very certain, yes. An MM PE which gives me exposure as well as the autonomy that I want to work, with even at junior levels… that’s always been my goal.
        Thank you and keep up the good work. I wouldn’t be where I am if not for M&I.

    • Vp says

      Long time reader
      Would really appreciate if you can throw some light on salary + bonus range for Analyst/Associate/VP level for IB and PE in India..? Thinking of moving back…

      Best,

      • Long time reader says

        Vp, contact me on longtimereader@yopmail.com. We might be able to help each other out. Please make sure to use your real email ID, I’ll contact you back from my own account.

        If you do contact, leave a comment here when you have sent an email.

  21. Jason says

    Do MBA class sizes make any difference? I know Canadian MBA classes are generally smaller than American ones.

    • says

      Make a difference in terms of? It doesn’t really change how useful the program is, but it may affect the networking opportunities that come from it (easier to get to know people in smaller classes, but you won’t know as many people).

    • says

      I mean, the CFA might help for certain roles such as portfolio management and some hedge funds, but I don’t think you necessarily need both. The MBA is more about changing careers when you’re coming in from something completely different (in some cases).

  22. says

    Deciding to do an MBA from a top B-school isn’t any different from other life-altering events like your marriage or your first child’s education: you need to plan ahead, make room for contingencies, prepare yourself mentally, network, learn, and work real hard. If funds are an issue, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available. Like the American Association of University Women which provides financial support to International women pursuing their education anywhere in the U.S. For Indian nationals desirous of an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business, there’s the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship Programme which offers full scholarships to five students every year to study at Stanford and come back to India and join the Reliance Group. I’m in my final year of MBA and personally, I think that my stint at one of the best Indian Institutes of Management is worth every penny.

  23. Geezun says

    Hi,

    I am 28 yrs old now and not really sure if my age is too old to have finally decided the job that I wanted to do.

    I am a CPA who used to work for a BIG 4 firm. Started auditing normal companies then finally selected to be part of hedge funds team audit as manager. The time I first audited a hedge fund that’s the time I realized what I wanted to do. I was into research and have always been excited with investments etc…. 5yrs have passed and I finally decided to quit the audit job and joined in one of the top 3 IB and got a Senior level Business/Financial analyst position. I still work for hedge funds however it involves no research at all. I am stucked doing financial reports etc… I really wanted to be an ER and someday be on the sell-side… I applied for an ER position but no one is really interested since I lack the experience. So I decided to take the CFA exams (currently reviewing for Level 1) and dumped MBA idea. My question is, am I making the right decision by going to the CFA certification route just to be accepted for an ER position? Thanks. BTW, I really love your website.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Not necessarily, though you won’t have the chance to intern during the summer so it may be more challenging to get a FT offer after graduation if you haven’t already had experience in the industry pre-MBA

  24. Andrew Lee says

    Brian
    What are the options for a non-big four cpa trying to break into investment banking? My logic of thinking is go to big four, get into a top ten mba and then apply for i-banking? Any alternatives? Thank you

  25. Aditya Kumar Roy says

    Dear Sir
    I am an Engineering Undergraduate, Graduating in 2014. I really don’t want to work in Engineering/IT sector, although my academic scores are very high.
    I want to enter IB/PE as soon as possible. I am really divided on should I go for Masters in Finance(Tier-1 schools) or MBA(Tier-2 & 3 schools). I am also appearing for CFA level-1 this December. Please help, what should I do, given that I want to get into IB/PE and work in US or HK. Please Help. Expecting valuable inputs from your end.

  26. Rahul says

    What according to you is a tier 1 MBA school ? Top 25? Top 50?. Cause the USA has a number of highly respected business programs apart from the Ivys. Such as darden, Michigan, Duke, NYU, Berkeley, Chicago Booth, etc

  27. Mr. A says

    Hello there!
    Quite informative article. I have a query though:
    I am from India and considering 1 year MBA from University of Redlands. The fee is $40k including accommodation. Whats your take on this University and 1 year MBA as a whole? Is it worth it? Will i be able to land a job in US after my course(at least till i pay off my student loan)? As its impossible to pay off if sent back considering the salaries here in India. I am from a middle class family and the recruitment aspect is top of my worries.
    Thanks in advance!

  28. Daniel says

    Thanks for the article, very well-written and insightful. Unsurprisingly, I disagree with a couple of points made, and would like to add to a couple more. First, one of the things that caught me by surprise during business school is how much I learned about myself and about what I wanted to do as part of the learning process. I signed up having the vaguest idea of what I wanted to do aftwards, but figured out the right path forward after experimenting a couple of classes and talking to many different people while in school. So my recommendation: understand what you want at a high level, but do NOT start business school with a closed mind. Second, and very importantly, I agree that b-school will not insulate you from the struggles of a professional life afterwards. A degree gives you nothing other than the opportunity to work so much harder in the future to make the extra money and build your career path. A company may even hire you at a higher pay level at first for having attended b-school, but you will have to prove yourself worthy of every penny of that extra cash given to you. B-school only reinforces the idea that there is no free lunch, even if you are able to increase your salary and pay off your investment. Once again, thanks for a great article!

  29. IT Convert says

    Hello,
    I’m currently an IT professional that got a job doing IT at a Hedge Fund company in Dallas, TX. This is the first exposure I’ve had to this industry and have become fascinated with it. Namely what our Analysts do. After speaking with one particular who went from working IT here, going back to B-School and transitioned to Front Office it gave me a glint of hope that I can follow in the steps. I’m not sure how to proceed though. I’ve been doing research and some stuff says to get MBA in Finance and go from there. Other things almost imply it’s near impossible. I work 40 hours a week and am curious if there is a snowballs chance that I could make the transition by going to school part time or if the real option is to try to get into a target school here in TX and going full-time and stepping away from a good paying IT gig in hopes i’ll get picked back up as an analyst?

    Basically just need some initial guidance as this is a nerve racking thought but the income potential far exceeds what I can achieve currently. Thank you in advance.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes perhaps going to school part time at UTAustin MBA may increase your chances of moving to other areas within finance. It may be challenging initially so you may want to think through the costs associated. However, this can open you doors. I’d also network within the community to increase your chances.

  30. P says

    Thanks for the interesting article and highlighting the ups and downs of doing an MBA! I would like to ask you

    I got an offer to work at Asset Management and Private Banking (either one after rotations) at one of the BB this summer and I intend to pursue a long term career as a RM. Would doing an MBA be helpful for my career? Is it worth the money? Thanks a lot!

  31. Yacine says

    Hi

    What do you think about a master in finance in Warwick, it’s about 50k ( euros) for the whole year. I’m from a french “grande école” : ESCP Europe ( good school but lack of brand-name abroad) and I would like to do my master in the UK.

    Thanks a lot for your time

    • says

      It could be good, but I am not sure offhand how much recruiting there is there vs. the slightly “better” schools in the UK – if students indicate that banks recruit there, I would take the offer and enroll.

  32. Fred says

    Hello

    2 questions regarding MBA Programs:

    1. Would you be able to say which of these European/UK top schools are also considered “top schools” in N.America (Canada & US) and in which order:
    Insead; IMD Switzerland; London Business School; Rotterdam School of Management

    2. Do Executive MBA’s offer/provide chances for NO recruitment possibilities, or just limited recruiment possibilities? and if its more limited to full-time, to which extent?

    Thanks,
    F

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. not sure about the rest but LBS stands out
      2. Yes executive MBAs are useful especially if you’re have had more experience in the corporate world. I’m not quite sure I understand your question.

      • Fred says

        Hi Nicole,
        Thanks for the reply. What I mean in question 2 is whether it is wise to do an EMBA with an intention to potentially make a career change, something full-time MBA’s are better known for.
        Best,
        F

  33. Arshi says

    Nicole,

    Thanks for a great write up. I am close to finish my PhD in Medicine. Got a 740 in GMAT, I am planning to do MBA. I am wondering what to do in these two cases. One is Richard Ivey one year MBA which is costing me 40$ as I am getting 40$k scholarship other is stanford two year MBA which is costing me 140k$.Does it really matter in long term from where I do my MBA. Where you think ivey stand in front of stanford ?. Is salary difference and school reputation is good enough reason to spend extra 80k$.

    Thanks for your response.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you can get into Stanford GSB, yes I’d take that over Ivey, if cost is not an issue. Stanford is, in my opinion, more credible and provides more options…

  34. says

    Great read! I know you’re focusing on finance, but I have a question about MBA in general, MBA with a focus on marketing. What is your take? I graduated from top 100 USA school with a liberal arts degree. I have worked in different fields and I am in my mid 20’s. I am looking to get into marketing related work, what would be your advice? Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      We are not specialized in marketing so we can’t give you advice on this front. But I’d imagine marketing is useful for many businesses.

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