Elena Plescan: 5 common myths about MBA

Dear Moldovan and Ukrainian applicants,

As you might already know, applying for MBA is difficult and requires lots of time and effort. Each and every one of you has to go through the lengthy process of passing the GMAT and TOEFL, writing your essays and, most probably, your own recommendation letters, filling multiple applications, preparing for the interviews and after a long waiting period getting the final answer. If you’re lucky – the answer will be “Congratulations!  You’ve been accepted to our program.” And now you’re all set for the journey of a lifetime in one of the best universities in the US, but will b-school live up to your expectations? Here are some of the 5 most common myths

Myth 1. Students have lots of free time, because they study only 4 days per week and mostly half a day. At Kellogg School of Management we have Wednesdays off, and believe me it’s one of the busiest days of the week because everyone schedules group meetings,  catches up on their reading (oh, those 20 page case studies…), does individual assignments and whatnot. For that matter, depending on your course load your weekends and weekday nights might look similar. See myth 2.

Myth 2. During 2 years of MBA you won’t have time for anything else but studying. You have the power to define your own MBA experience and this is not a slogan from a glossy b-school brochure.  Depending on your priorities, you can take as many as 5 difficult courses per quarter or go for 3 easy courses and spend your free time traveling, partying or relaxing. Aside from the two extreme strategies mentioned above, most students combine quant and soft-skill classes with international opportunities (going on exchange for a quarter), experiential learning opportunities (working on a real project) and participation in different clubs and organizing committees. And use the breaks to travel the world and spend time with their family.

Myth 3. MBA is all about networking, so you’ll meet lots of people and make a ton of friends. Well, it really depends on the school culture – there are some programs with a more supportive environment and some with a more competitive, individualistic one. For me, as an international student kilometers away from my loved ones, it was important to be able to make friends, so I chose a school from the first category. Regardless, I soon discovered that networking and pleasant smiles don’t equal friendship, as people with whom I had heart-to-heart conversations seemed to barely recognize me the next day. It took me a good 2-3 months to define my circle of friends and the fact that I came to the US with my husband helped me feel less lonely in the meanwhile. So, just be patient and things will work out!

Myth 4. Once you get into an MBA program, you’re set on a path to success and companies will fight to hire you. You would be surprised by the sheer amount of rejections an MBA student has to face during her/ his two years of study – being rejected from club leadership positions, loosing competitions or not being accepted into experiential learning classes and lots of job interview rejections. Why does this happen? You are competing with equally accomplished individuals. More exactly, with almost 200,000 other MBA graduates. Don’t despair and remember that Preparation, Patience & Perseverance will get you anywhere. More on this here (link: http://blog.seedgrant.md/mba-life-expectation-vs-reality-oleksandr-matviienko/)

Myth 5. Getting an MBA is useless and too expensive, as you can learn people skills at work, and acquire hard skills through online courses. I can agree with the part about an MBA being super-expensive and that’s what makes  Seed Grant such a valuable resource. Other than that, an MBA is very valuable (beyond having a big brand name on you resume):

  • First, you can truly tap into an international network of contacts. Out of all the companies that I applied for an internship, 99% employed at least one Kellogg alumni, whom I could ask for help or job recommendations.
  • Second, the quality and depth of study is superior. It’s not only being taught innovative topics (think Advanced data analytics, Machine learning) by experienced professors, it’s also participating in class discussions, working in groups with some of the smartest people you’ve ever met and getting help 24/7 help from teacher assistants and tutors.
  • Finally, you are immersed in an environment outside of your comfort zone. You have to work with people from different countries and cultures, on topics that you know very little about in very short time. I believe this is the best management training and students go through it over and over again.

Good luck in your application process!

Elena Plescan

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