A few months after graduating college (2008) some of my friends started talking about grad school, which of course made me think about grad school. I didn’t want to. I just graduated college, but it seemed like everyone else was going to get their MBA so I probably should too.
Then the economy happened. People lost jobs, including myself and I temporalily put any secondary education on hold.
Two years later when looking to escape a temp job, I started considering getting an MBA again. It sounded like a good opportunity to improve my business skills and network to a job that I enjoyed.
Before I got too far down that road, I was connected with someone who was starting up a company. A year and a half later, with the company done, I’m completely open again. Were I to follow my peers, I’d be looking to get my MBA. A few friends have their MBA’s already and others are on their way.
But that won’t happen for me.
I have 0 interest in getting an MBA. Maybe even negative interest.
It’s amazing how much you learn being the 2nd employee at a small start up…
What did I learn at college?
I’m not sure. I learned the basic business and marketing concepts (the 4 P’s!), but what wisdom did I accrue? None, actually. I picked up some knowledge, but wisdom comes from applying knowledge. I learned more about marketing and public relations in the six months I spent as an intern at a PR agency getting paid $8/hr than I did in four years in college. The best skills I picked up in college were from public speaking classes, but I could join toastmasters or do an open mic if I wanted more of that.
Most lessons aren’t really learned until you have to face the real world consequences of your actions. Just like your kids won’t remember to turn off the lights in the house until they have to pay an electric bill. You can’t really be sure of your ideas until they face actual people, not a professor. College is largely a bubble (pun not intended, but kind of intended).
The education I’ve received from working at a start up for the last year and a half at a start up could never be learned at a college. There was so much self-education happening at the time that I finally broke out of the “learn along with everyone else” mentality that you’re ingrained with at school and discovered that there is no speed limit. You can learn as much as your want to learn as fast as you’re willing to learn it.
Is grad school different?
Probably. I’m sure the people at grad school are a lot more serious and focused. But is it worth 27k or two years? No. Maybe for some people, but it’s a tough case to make unless CEO of Gigantic Conglomerate is on your career path. Would I learn 27k more than what I learned from Josh Kaufman’s The Personal MBA? No way.
What is the opportunity cost?
I’m obsessing over this question. I looked at the price of an MBA tonight. Without financial aid, it looks like it would cost me about $27k and two years of my life. What could I do with that money and time? Or if an employer agreed to pay for the MBA, what would I do with that time? You can do a lot of side projects in two years.
A lot of the projects would probably fail. In fact, even if they all failed and I lost 27k and two years of my life, would I still be better off than if I invested in an MBA? Likely. College is the only place where you can spend money without learning anything. Reality is a brutal teacher.
I could spend 2-3k for a weekend with Josh Kaufman or a Seth Godin workshop where I’d be likely to find better ideas and more entrepreneurial people.
When you analyze what you could do to educate yourself with 27k, choosing an MBA is towards the bottom of the list. The opportunity cost is just too high.
With that said, why get an MBA? Am I delusional or are there still good reasons?