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        Three Types of Students Who Won't Benefit From Business School

        Is an MBA really right for you?

        Applying to business school is an arduous undertaking, so before you begin to fill out your application forms, consider whether an MBA is truly right for you.

        Not all individuals will benefit from a master’s degree in business administration. Here are three types of students who should weigh this decision carefully:

        Students with little experience

        Are you a recent college graduate? Are you still in college? If so, business school may not be your next logical step.

        Unlike some master’s degree programs, business school is not a natural continuation of college. The average age of an applicant to a full-time MBA program is roughly 27 or 28, and many programs suggest that candidates have three to five years of work experience.

        In fact, your participation in the workplace matters just as much as your participation at your university, your test scores, and your GPA. To fully engage in a business school classroom, you must be able to relate the material you are learning to work situations.

        For candidates who lack experience, there are several ways to address this issue.

        If you are currently employed, seek more responsibility. Admissions committees like to see a history of progress and promotion on your resume.

        If you are not currently employed, acknowledge that securing a position is difficult in this economy. As you search for the right job, create projects that can help you develop your skills. You could learn computer programming languages like JavaScript, Python, or Ruby, or you could take a course in accounting or statistics to prepare for your future MBA classes.

        Students without a clear plan

        “Figure it all out in business school,” is not a sufficient strategy for success in an elite program. You should know what direction you wish to take not only before your first day of class, but also before your first day of orientation.

        Ideally, you will create this plan as part of your application. There may be companies that you would like to work at that offer pre-orientation programs, but they will likely require you to identify your business area of interest. Furthermore, your business school advisors will not know how to advise you if you do not have an end goal in mind.

        If you need help discovering the path you would like to take, try speaking with the people who have been there before. The truth is, many students graduate from business school and work in an area that is different from their initial interest.

        Current MBA students can provide you with a first-hand account of how they developed and presented their career plans in their applications, and whether they will adhere to that plan now that they have had a chance to explore it.

        Alumni can also share a real-world perspective on how their degree provided a bridge from their previous job to their current position.

        Students who do not need an MBA for their career

        There are countless careers that do not require an MBA. Some applicants become so focused on their goal of getting into business school that they do not think about why they wish to go in the first place. An MBA program can take anywhere from one to three years to complete. Ensure you will benefit from that investment before applying. 

        In this case, you have two options — either pursue a position that is greatly aided by an MBA, like financial consultant, or find another path to gain the skills necessary for your desired career.

        With these three issues in mind, examine your personal situation and decide if applying to business school is the best move for you. If you do choose to move forward, this process of reflection will help you complete your application, particularly when speaking with your recommenders and completing your essays.

        If you decide that it would be better to earn your MBA in several years’ time, start planning now. Preparation is the key to assembling a strong application, as is presenting your best self to the admissions committees at your target schools.

        The author, Mahlena-Rae Johnson, is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a curated marketplace for private tutors. She is a GMAT tutor who received her MBA from University of Southern California in 2010. She scored a 740 on the GMAT