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Should I attend a non-top MBA program?

While no one can guarantee any outcomes, business school can be a good investment if you have a specific purpose and the right school in mind. There is no doubt that going to a top 10 US business school can set you up for success.

My overall answer is: a non-top 10 #MBA program might mean additional debt without a clear ROI.

Without onsite #recruitment, your process will mimic that of someone networking their way into a job. You'll want to check and see if your target firms have hired alums from your chosen MBA program, as that's where you'll need to go. If you don't find any, you'll have to switch to other network connections.

The one benefit is that certain positions are only open to you if you are an MBA student--for example, if you don't enter as a business analyst after undergrad, your next shot for an #MBB position is as an MBA student. So while a non-target school might not give you many direct opportunities to interview at firms, being an MBA student makes you eligible for those roles.

So why consider a non-target MBA program?

Aside from the social element--a non-target school with an active and/or well placed alumni body will turbo charge your network in a way that is hard to achieve alongside your usual full time job. Especially if alumni of your school stay in/move to the area you want to live in after graduating, you'll find more doors open to you by virtue of being a graduate of X university (and, of course, the more general doors open to you by virtue of being an MBA student).

My answer for working professionals is threefold:

1. Take full stock of your recruiting and networking attempts in the past 6-8 months, and ask yourself if you've thrown yourself into trying to find a better job. Do you think you have made a $250,000 attempt to change your career path?

2. Do you have a clear, defined career goal in mind? I.e., have you utilized your network, the internet, and career coaches to narrow down the industry/field/title/city you want to work in?

3. Will taking on $250k in debt and forgoing two years of income leave you with enough flexibility to chase after roles that interest you (for example, could you be interested in joining an early stage start up that pays in equity as well as base?)

Last note: if you are an #international student, keep in mind that your ROI is very contingent on your ability to receive a #visa after graduating. If you are unable to stay in the US and are forced to move either back home or to another country, your starting salary might again be too low to compensate for the expense.

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