Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Applying to masters programs that you don't really want to attend

There is a fundamental difference between masters programs and degrees such as bachelors, Phd, JD, MD. In today's world, going to college is a MUST (Peter Thiel, I'm talking to you!). As for the advanced degrees, you cannot practice the field, whether medicine, academia, or law, without the degree.

Masters programs, including the MBA, are a different beast however. You do not need an MBA to be in business, and you certainly don't need one to be successful or wealthy. This brings me to the topic in hand: the futility of applying to masters programs that you actually don't want to attend.

When I was a high school senior i applied to a wide range of schools, including safeties. After all, you have to attend college even if you only get into your last choice. And if you want to practice law, you just gotta suck it up and go to the best law school that takes you. In my opinion, this same mindset should NOT apply to masters programs. I made this mistake this year when i applied to several non-mba programs that I was not that excited about. I told myself that it will be good to have "backup" options, but in fact I was wasting time and money on those applications.

I was recently accepted to a top masters program in international economics with a half-tuition scholarship. This program only funds 30% of admitted applicants, and the average fellowship is $7K/year. Suffice it to say, they badly wanted me, and the admissions director himself reached out to me via phone. What I realized was that this school would not help me achieve my professional goals. And I recently had an interview with a top finance masters program that I'm also dubious about. Given my age and opportunity cost, applying to masters programs simply to get in somewhere did not make sense. Yes, it's good to have options, but MBA applications are difficult, and you want to focus your body, heart, and soul on the schools that you want to attend. Of course, you will always have a preference on where you want to go. But don't apply simply for the sake of it. Ask yourself this question: If this was the only school I got into, and i had to pay full-price for it, would I be happy there and get the job I want coming out?  If you cannot answer "Yes," please save yourself the trouble and don't apply.

No comments:

Post a Comment