A typical topic of conversation amongst up-and-coming business professionals is whether or not to achieve an MBA. Being in my 20s and in business, this conversation happens frequently.
Recently, I paid a visit to a friend who’s working to get his MBA at Harvard. I heard many times over those few days together how there’s nothing as valuable as an MBA from an institution like Harvard; that the networking is unparalleled; and that one may never reach his/her full business potential without the degree. I sat in on a class to get a better idea of what happens behind those prestigious walls. After, I continue to see that there are two sides to this argument.
One the one hand, there’s the value of traditional education. There’s also the fact that many businesses in the corporate environment will only allow growth to a certain point unless you obtain an MBA. And, there certainly are valuable networks to be gained.
But, where does experiential learning come into play? How do you put a value on it versus the possible ‘loss on investment’ of taking away time from real world learning in order to commit to an academic environment? And what’s to say the networking and relationships gained outside of MBA programs isn’t equally or more strong if created and nurtured effectively?
More recently, I attended a local Atlanta group called the Entrepreneur Advisors and their topic of discussion was whether or not MBAs are catering to entrepreneurs and if they are still relevant. On a board of six university representatives, one made a poignant remark that ‘Millennials no longer see Corporate America as safe, but rather, they see entrepreneurship as safe.’ He wrapped up in one sentence something I’ve been trying to explain to other generations (and to some degree my peers) for some time now. Plus, this board discussed whether or not the time and monetary investment is worth the trade-off to be out in the field, gaining experience, knowledge, and money.
I still see a divide amongst my Millennial peers: some pushed into the MBA path as a result of their career choices. Some choosing to go for his/her own expectations of the results. And, others like me who would love to have the classroom knowledge, but can’t fathom taking the time and money to invest in additional schooling when the wheels are in motion and it may be more detrimental to stop them or take away enough energy to devote to a Masters program.
It would not surprise me if over the next years, MBA programs continue to cater more to ‘the small business’ or ‘entrepreneur’ mindset, recognizing that it’s an audience in need of further education, but whose limitations are different than the traditional student to whom these programs have historically catered. In the mean time, I’ll continue to read books on business, learn from conversations with successful business people, and sit in on Harvard business school classes here and there. Only time will tell if my decision to put off a traditional Graduate education will have been worth it.
(You can also check this article out at Decatur News Online.)