As you may know, the MBA experience is more than just building DCF models and structuring LBOs – it’s also expanding your network. Factoring in tuition, living expenses, and the “additional travel and getting to know your classmates” line item (which took me to Ibiza, Israel, Russia, Mexico, and more) – the total bill can edge close to $200k. Funding the MBA is no joke, so understanding your full range of options is critical.
Deciding to do an MBA
Knowing that an MBA would set me back quite a bit, I curated a list of schools that fit my criteria for business school and set out to apply. I took a long time carefully getting to know each of the schools I was interested in – going on campus for prospective student open houses, chatting with current students, and getting a sense of the “vibe” for each program. While not necessarily contributing to saving for the MBA, this was a vital step in choosing the right program for me, and feeling confident about moving forward. Knowing what I was paying for and why, was equally as important to figuring out how to pay for it.
Instead of quitting my job months in advance of business school, I continued to work my job until just a couple of weeks before school started to pull in those last few paychecks. Some of my classmates did a pre-MBA internship the summer before starting business school.
Along with my Chicago Booth offer letter, came a sizeable scholarship from the school. But school scholarships are just one source of scholarships. There are thousands of nonprofits and other organizations that offer scholarships to students. I didn’t explore these when I was going to school, but really wish I had. A few small checks can really add up, and in many cases you can use some of the same material you sent in to apply to business school.
I worked while in school both on a startup of my own, but also in consulting capacities for other companies, which helped me pay for living and other expenses. I was offered the opportunity to TA an entrepreneurship class one term, which was a win-win by providing me with supplemental income and the chance to meet other folks in the space I was involved in. You’ll find that many of your classmates are engaged in side internships, working on their own companies, and dabbling in other part time gigs.
Don’t be afraid to start immediately applying what you’re learning inside the classroom for pay outside the classroom. At some MBA programs, you can even postpone a term, or double-up on classes during one term, to allow for a second full-time internship. Depending on your visa, you can also work up to 20 hours or more while in school. And you’ll likely make a lot of new friends being a bartender at the local pub!
Whether your MBA was in the long term game plan or a last minute trigger pull, you can develop a funding strategy that will work for you. Talk to other applicants, current students, and alumni for ideas and get creative!
Whitney Morgan is a Business Development Manager at Prodigy Finance. She worked in cyber security engineering and venture capital before getting her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She then worked in early stage startups in a variety of industries before joining the Prodigy team.