Last week there was a flurry of tweets and articles in response to a short, new ebook, MBA Myths Unlocked by Dr. Ronald Yeaple. Dr. Yeaple explores and compares fifteen “myths” or truisms in graduate management education. He takes an ROI approach, and as sometimes happens, the more sensationalistic aspects get the most attention. I saw a few tweets and one BW article focused on the $112k price tag that Dr. Yeaple pins on the experience requirement preceding most full-time MBA programs.
I found that part of his book the least persuasive, and here’s why:
- He based his conclusion on data from one school, which BusinessWeek identifies as Rollins College in Florida where Dr. Yeaple taught. Your target schools, particularly if you are aiming at the top 10-15, may have very different data, salaries, and results, which Dr. Yeaple acknowledges.
- He claims that most applicants can choose to do a full-time MBA program immediately upon graduating college. Actually many top MBA programs have a work experience requirement. Even those full-time programs that don’t require work experience, want to see significant internships and part-time work experience. While Dr. Yeaple points to Harvard as one school that accepts applicants straight from college, in fact Harvard has admitted no one straight from college to its full-time MBA program for the last two years. It set up 2+2 for early career applicants because it wants students with full-time work experience.
- He also claims that the other major professions do not require full-time work experience. Yes and no. It is not usually required for law school or medical school. True. But more and more law and medical schools strongly prefer applicants with significant exposure to their fields, and for law school, full-time work experience.
- Finally, recruiters frequently prefer to hire MBAs with prior full-time work experience. It’s their preference that is shaping admissions criteria. And that preference is one of the reasons behind deferred admissions programs, like HBS 2+2.
Dr. Yeaple’s basic point is that the opportunity cost associated with the full-time MBA is higher the later you start your MBA studies because you will be giving up a higher salary after working for two years, not to mention four or five years, than if you complete your MBA studies immediately after college. Certainly true for most applicants most of the time.
So if you are going into a family business, want to start your own business, or intend to pursue a career that does not value work prior to the MBA, then get your MBA as soon as possible and with the lowest opportunity cost. Seek out programs that will provide an MBA to recent college grads.
However, if the schools you want to attend won’t accept you without full-time work experience or if the companies you want to work for strongly prefer MBAs with prior full-time work experience, and the job you hope to attain makes the higher opportunity cost worthwhile, then Dr. Yeaple’s argument gets headlines, but is not relevant to you. At this point in time, that will be the case for most of my dear readers.
As always, you have to consider your post-MBA goals, your qualifications, and your target programs to see whether the $112,467 price tag applies to you.
I found the rest of the book to be far more insightful than the first section that received all the attention. For my analysis of the rest of the book and some excellent “myth-busting,” please check out part two of this post.
By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com, co-author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.