I was doing a little web surfing over the weekend and stumbled across a poignant post by Venetian Job, a 2008 MBA applicant, who feels up in the air at the moment. He apparently has a lot of options and one of them is postponing his run for a seat in the MBA class of 2010. He is struggling with his choices and needs to make a decision.
His post made me think that perhaps other applicants are similarly struggling with the following question: When should you apply?
Here are a few factors that indicate now is the time for you to apply.
- You have a specific goal that requires a graduate degree, be it an MBA, MD, JD, or alphabet soup of possibilities.
- You feel that you are stagnating in your current position.
- You are excited about the prospect of X years of study towards your professional goal.
- You have the level of experience desired by the graduate programs you are targeting.
- You have the qualifications.
- You have the means or know-how to acquire the means to pay for your education.
#1 above is an absolute requirement for graduate admissions. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about MBA admissions, med school admissions, or law school admissions, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to do at the other end of the graduate study tunnel. For MBA’s that goals has to be fairly specific. For future doctors, lawyers and other professionals, the goal can be a little more general, but still must require the education you are seeking.
Reasons 2-6 are not sufficient reasons on their own to pursue a graduate education, but in combination with #1 they are good indicators that now is a propitious time to apply.
What are the wrong reasons to pursue a graduate degree?
- I hate my job.
- I don’t want to get a job.
- My parents will pay for it.
- Everyone else is doing it.
- I want to get my ticket punched.
- I always thought I was going to go for a graduate degree.
- I always dreamed of being a "fill-in-the-blank", but now I’m not so sure that’s what I want to do.
- I fear I won’t go if I wait.
The second set would signal that you are applying for the wrong reasons and should postpone your application.
Venetian Job was not specific in his posts about his options, his reason for wanting an MBA, or why he may want to postpone applying. I hope the above list also gives him some guidance.