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One of the first questions that I get from people when either A) I mention my age/years of work experience while talking about my MBA candidacy or B) I mention my candidacy and they already know my age is “Have you considered a Part-Time MBA or EMBA?”
The answer to that question is yes, I have; and that is exactly what makes me so certain that I want neither.
I become slightly irritated when people ask me that question without knowing anything about my goals. The source of my irritation is not the nature of the question itself, but rather the logic behind asking it in the first place.
“Canned answers” annoy me to no end; but I am even more annoyed by canned questions. What’s a canned question, you ask? A canned question (in my personal dictionary of self-defined terms) is one that is asked as a knee jerk reaction to partial data.
In all fairness, there is usually a reasonable expectation that the supposed conclusion of a canned question is likely to be true; nevertheless, the intellectual laziness that encourages people to just blurt out an ill-supported assumption without qualifying it first rakes my nerves just a bit.
This “reasonable expectation” creates a general level of agreement among a particular group of people that the presence of said partial data is enough to conclude that the canned question is appropriate (aka a stereotype). Ah, group think. I hate group think. I wish I could ding people like the GMAT does for making assumptions without sufficient data; but I digress.
A SHORT LIST OF CANNED QUESTIONS THAT ANNOY ME
(to a muscular black man)…. “Do/did you play pro football?” [as if that is the only thing for fit black men to do]
(to an overweight woman with a severe hormonal imbalance)…”Have you tried a low carb diet?” [hasn’t everyone?]
(to a 4th generation Asian American woman)…”Do you speak Chinese?” [she’s Japanese and Ukranian]
(to an MBA applicant who is 30+ years old)…”Why don’t you just get an EMBA/Part Time MBA?” [more on this in a few secs]
I’m sure you get the idea at this point (and if you haven’t, well, I just don’t know what to say about that).
REASONS TO GET AN EMBA OR PART TIME MBA
*You are looking to move up in the same company you already work for.
*You are looking to promote into a new position (most likely within your current field) in the same city you already live in.
*You have a family, a mortgage, or other responsibilities that would make A) quitting your job to live on loans for 2 years and/or B) moving to a different city to attend school an unwise life decision.
Note to canned questioners: None of the above circumstances describe me–mostly because I’ve put off A) becoming attached to any job or employer B) starting a family C) buying a home because they all tend to conflict with early-stage entrepreneurship.
REASONS TO GET A FULL TIME MBA
* You are looking to change careers.
* You have weighed the risk of quitting your current job, living off of loans for 2 years and possibly leaving your current city and have determined that it is a good risk in lieu of the likely return.
*A full time MBA experience is necessary for you to achieve your goals.
2nd note to canned questioners: Bingo x 3 on all of the above for me.
MY STATUS AS A CAREER CHANGER
The abbreviated version of my goals include transitioning from full time employment and part time entrepreneurship to full time entrepreneurship. I also plan to do so within the same general industry that I work in 9 to 5, a fact that makes my goal a reasonable one that can easily be backed up with prior experience and training.
QUITTING THE JOB
Being that I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve never been particularly attached to jobs. Any job that I have ever had has served two purposes and two purposes only: 1) to pay bills while I worked something else on the side 2) to develop skills that I could use in the development of my own enterprise.
When you cross reference that little piece of info with the fact that I took a pay cut to come to my current job (it was about a 700% better opportunity for about 75% of the pay) it becomes apparent that I wear no “golden handcuffs” (job perks/pay so great that you have a hard time leaving, even when you hate the job itself–although, I love my current job; it was my previous job that I hated).
THE NECESSITY OF GETTING A FULL TIME MBA
I’ve had some level of success in my past business ventures; however, it has never been enough to “take me over the top” (leading to burnout, then starting again from the drawing board). To that end, I’ve identified several skills that an MBA will provide. Additionally, the network of a strong MBA alumni (certain schools in particular) will be critical in helping me meet the goals that I will be outlining in my upcoming b-school application essays.
Finally, the experience that I am looking for is geared more toward transformation and less toward taking some classes to be a better “manager”. Honestly, the latter is just not an exciting enough reason for me to pay big bucks and sit in class for two years; I wouldn’t even bother with an MBA if that was all that I wanted to do with one.
THE HARD CLIMB OF TOP 10 MBA ADMISSIONS–POST 30
Once I accepted the reality that a full time MBA was the way for me to go I stumbled across pages of online op-eds and the like stating that “over 30” MBA applicants to top 10-15 programs might have better chances of success by collectively donating our organs to the world’s largest pink slime factory; I disagree.
Though there is a persistent rumor that admissions rates are lower for older applicants, the opposite of that rumor may in fact be the case. Also, due to the common 30+ responsibilities (families, mortgages) that I mentioned earlier a full time MBA program is too much of a commitment for most people in my demographic; hence, few bother to apply to more than a local, part-time program to begin with.
Nevertheless, those of us who are over 30 have specific challenges to overcome if we hope to earn a spot at a top-rated business school. My search to identify and hedge against those challenges inspired me to start this blog.
If you’re in the same boat and find yourself scouring the net for information on this topic, here is a list of a few resources that I have found useful and informative. I wish all of you well.
Would you like my help getting into your dream b-school? Well, there are two starting points for that:
1. Get a Free Profile Analysis (after receiving your information, I’ll let you know whether or not I think I can help you)
2. Get Help Now (If you already know that you want help and what you want help on, then just skip to here)