(Full-Time vs Part-Time MBA) Reach for the Stars: Why I am choosing a Full-Time MBA

Why don’t you just get a part-time MBA?

armstrongPeople LOVE asking that question. I have said the answer so many times, that I think I have it down to a science. Generally, I smile and reply that the ROI is not there for a part-time… however I recently go into a “heated” discussion with an associate about the topic. This caused a lot of introspection on my end, and ultimately, I admitted that (for me) it isn’t just about ROI. There are a lot of factors.

Why People Get a Part-Time MBA

  • Their company will pay for it AND they want to stay in the same company
  • You know your company will view getting an MBA as an accomplishment and addition to your skills/resume (and will compensate accordingly)
  • You are okay with working 40+ hours a week and going to school/studying for 10 hours a week.
  • You have a decent program (not a diploma mill) in your immediate area

Why People Get a Full-Time MBA

  • Change careers/industries and/or become an entrepreneur
  • They don’t have a mortgage/crazy school loans and can afford studying for two years without income
  • They want to create a meaningful network outside of their current one

The [not-so] Hidden Risks of a Part-Time MBA

I have seen it time and time again. An employee will spend 3 years of their life in a work/school hell working their butts off and finally graduate. After the party is over, they look at their paycheck. NO CHANGE. And really, why should there be? By paying for their employee’s diploma, a company knows that the employee MUST work for them for a set period of time. Is that company really incentivized to give them a raise or any other compensation?

Now of course, that is not everywhere. However, it DOES happen, and it is pretty demoralizing. Of course the employee can work for a few years to keep developing their resume and then get a promotion, but could they have made it to that point without an MBA?

Another risk is the unflexible schedule. Because a part-time MBA/work schedule does not allow that much flexibility, I’ve seen peers miss work opportunities. Fewer chances for those all-to-often important special projects that transform careers. Again, this is not a universal rule, rather it is simply a risk that a part-time MBA has to accept.

Why I want the Full-Time MBA Experience

There are fewer and fewer risks on getting a full-time MBA at a top program (as long as you have the financial capability to do so). Employment from the top programs is VERY high, and often times the salary averages are above $100K (allowing students to pay back those massive loans). However, I personally think a lot of full-time MBA value doesn’t come in the form of a paycheck.

The full-time program is an INTENSE new experience that puts a lot of Type-A personalities in a small space. In this environment, individuals bond and relationships are born. Relationships that will last a lifetime. This is common thread that I’ve heard in all my conversations with alumni. A lot of my success is due to my interaction with others; I am hoping to continue the trend…just in a bigger playground.

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Going to a full-time program brings people from all over the world to talk about issues bigger than your particular industry or even country. This allows you to gain perspective of how little you may know of various issues/industries around the world. As we move to a more global economy this is critical. Gaining knowledge from a person with first-hand experience is a huge advantage.

Finally, the amount of knowledge at these schools is AMAZING. Professors will challenge your ideas and experiences, as well pivot the way you think about situations. The world of business is constantly changing, and many professors are also consultants and/or researchers as well, allowing them to give real first-hand knowledge of the various challenges that different businesses are facing.

Is the Top MBA outside of my reach?

Even though I have decided that a top full-time program is right for me, I still have to get into one. There are a lot of challenges. Graduating from a one of the poorest school districts in California, I was able to go to a state college on a full-ride (definitely not an Ivy League school). I am very happy to have a great career at a F500, but it’s not Goldman, Google, or McKinsey. However, many adcom have told me schools are increasingly less interested in “pedigree” and more interested in “momentum.” The question is now, can I articulate my momentum and my plan?


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12 Responses to “(Full-Time vs Part-Time MBA) Reach for the Stars: Why I am choosing a Full-Time MBA”

  1. MBAreapplicant84

    Great post! I don’t know how many times I have been asked this question myself. The thing that really helped me when deciding between a part-time program and a full-time program (aside from the fact that my goals just didn’t fit with a part-time program) was, a significant portion of the people that I know that did a part-time MBA said that they regretted spending the time and money to go back to school. Like you said, many of them graduated making the same amount and had the same job title. However, of all the students and alumni I have talked to that attended top full-time programs, I have never heard one say they regretted their decision to leave the work force and go to b-school.

    Reply
    • GrantMeAdmission

      Exactly! I would emphasize it is so critical to understand why you want to go back to school (something that top full-time programs “test” via the application process). How do you think your experience will be affected by attending a school where there is a lot of both?

      Reply
      • MBAreapplicant84

        I agree! Being able to answer the question “Why and MBA?” and even “Why a FT or PT MBA? is incredibly important. For me a part-time didn’t make sense. If I wanted to stay in the industry/role I am currently in, an MBA wouldn’t have made much of a difference, especially one from the caliber of schools in my area.

        I was a huge fan of Tuck, because all of the schools emphasis is put on the full-time two-year program. So, at first I was hesitant to apply to Anderson and some other schools with larger PT and EMBA programs. I was worried the b-school experience might be watered down, but fortunately, after speaking to several students about my concern, none of them said that was the case. Many even said it was nice to have someone in their elective classes with significant experience in the particular industry they were interested in transitioning too. I am hoping that will be my experience too, but I guess I will just have to wait and see.

        Good luck with your next go at the GMAT!

      • GrantMeAdmission

        Actually that makes a lot of sense. Having a combination of both provides a great environment to meet people that are in the industry TODAY. That network can help produce the right internships/jobs instantly. Very cool way of looking at it.

        As far as PT vs FT… it’s such a personal question to be honest. There are SOOOOOOO many dynamic factors, and ultimately it comes down to 1) Why do you want to get an MBA? 2) What are your short term goals? …. Those answers (in my opinion) dictate where you are going to go to get your MBA and what program you would like to engage in.

  2. topdogmba

    Couldn’t agree more with you regarding PT or FT programmes! And it’s more difficult for me with 12 years of work experience – everyone just assumes that I’m applying for an Exec MBA.

    This is a full immersion move for me, not a part-time investment of my time and energy.

    Really enjoying your regular updates. Bravo!

    Reply
  3. Come together | TopDogMBA

    […] helps describe why I don’t want to do a part time MBA. Grantmeadmission wrote a fantastic post about this recently. I really can’t say it better than […]

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  4. Critical Square

    Grant – this is a fantastic article! A lot of people think about this (at least once) during the process and for good reason. You’ve brought up some great points and, while the decision is personal for everyone, hopefully they think about more of the qualitative factors after reading your post! We’ve added a link to this blog post in our latest newsletter. We know some of our readers are going to find this useful!

    Reply
  5. Jaz

    I am really enjoying your blog. I just wanted to say that for those who earn over 150K $ thanks to the oil and gas field, doing a part time MBA is way more worth it. Hope to gain some knowledge from your experience on getting to 700 + on the GMAT.

    Regards,

    Reply
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