Should Women Skip Business School?

In a recent opinion piece in the New Yorker titled “Why Women Should Skip Business School”, author Laura Hemphill argues that, since women are far more likely to experience a career interruption (usually because of having kids) than men, they should work as much as possible while they’re young and aren’t get juggling family obligations. Make money and get far ahead now, she argues, and you’ll have more options later on than you will with an MBA.

This is the part where we — as a leader in GMAT prep and MBA admissions consulting — are supposed to volley back an impassioned defense of the MBA. How dare this person suggest that women, or anyone for that matter, forgo the magic that is a graduate management education? Blasphemy! Get off my Internet!

Well, that’s not what I’m here to deliver today. In fact, I actually agree with much of Hemphill’s argument. I will boil down my take to this: If you’re anything less than certain that an MBA is what you need to get to where you want to be, whether it’s in your current career or in something else entirely, then business school may not be right for you. That’s not to say that you definitely shouldn’t apply; an MBA really does open a lot of career options, if for no other reason than the fact that attending a top-ranked business school means dozens of blue-chip firms will come to you to and sell you on their companies. But if you’re doing just fine in your career and don’t have any plans to jump into something entirely different, then one can make a very plausible case that you don’t need an MBA.

Note that this doesn’t only apply to women… I give the same advice to male applicants all the time. If you’re not sure that you want an MBA, or you can’t cleanly articulate why such a degree will help you with your career goals, then you need to go back to square one and do some more research. And, if you can’t make this argument, remember that MBA admissions officers probably won’t have the time or patience to tease it out of you… They’re more likely to simply move on to the next application in the pile.

Again, business school can really open doors for you and give you career options that you never would have had otherwise. But it’s not a mandatory degree for any line of work, and it’s a huge commitment, both in terms of tuition and time away from the workforce. If you’re applying just because it seems like it’s what you should do in your mid 20’s, then you’re probably not ready to apply.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for business school, of even if you’re still in the “Is this right for me?” stage, request a free profile evaluation from an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum