Going to business school can be the avenue to fulfilling your dreams. Attending a business school presents many opportunities, which you can match to your abilities and career goals. In summary, here is why someone should enrol in business school.
Go to business school if you’re intelligent in an all-round kind of way and are motivated to study subjects such as economics, finance and marketing. A business education creates many career possibilities and is a pathway to financial security. The knowledge and skills gained won’t go to waste.
You can apply to join a business school if you’re finishing high school and want an important, rewarding career. You can also attend if you’re already a working professional but want to improve your prospects with an MBA degree. A useful business education is available at any stage of your career.
Why Go to Business School?
Do you wind up the leader of almost every group project you get involved in? Do other people frequently ask you for financial advice? Do you watch “Shark Tank” and similar TV shows and say to yourself, “I could do better than these people?”
Just joking here. Business school isn’t just to for A-type personalities and entrepreneurs who want to make it big.
The point of going to business school is to learn valuable skills that all organizations need, from analytics and finance, through to human resources management and executive leadership. Even if you never get to be the president of a multi-billion-dollar company, businesses all over the world need people with managerial and financial skills. If you get training in business administration, you’ll have transferable skills that firms everywhere are looking for.
Prepare for your next promotion with an MBA
For experienced professionals looking for greater responsibilities, business school is a path to future promotions. Management and leadership training is available in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs.
An MBA will set you up for supervisory and management roles, with 91% of U.S. companies planning to hire MBA graduates in the near-term according to the latest GMAC survey. Importantly, you don’t need a business background to study for a graduate degree. MBA program participants may include engineers, IT professionals and healthcare workers for example.
A company can promote employees without MBA training into management or positions of financial responsibility. But the “Peter Principle” may come into play whereby people in a hierarchy rise until they reach a level of relative incompetence. This predicts that many such internal candidates, however competent they might be at their original jobs, won’t be great at supervising other people or handling money. The business and leadership skills you gain from an MBA degree may set you apart.
Will You Make a Good Business Student?
Before you send out any applications and start attending business school, you need to carefully consider whether you are actually suited for a business school and a business career.
Are you motivated, intelligent and well-rounded? Dr Diane Matthews, CPA, chair and director of the Division of Business and Technology Management at Carlow College in Pittsburgh characterizes good business students as “analytical, hard-working, motivated, dedicated, conscientious, having good oral and written communication skills, and able to use technology.”
Many sources point out how competitive MBA business schools and the corporate ranks can be. You need to consider not only whether you can hold your own in that arena, but whether you can get along with, and function on teams with, other competitive personalities.
Benefits of Going to Business School
If you’re capable of doing well in business studies, many benefits await. Here are four of the top reasons to go to business school.
- Great salary prospects. Business school graduates start earning well straight away, especially for MBAs and other master’s degrees. And salaries keep growing because promotion opportunities are always available in business management.
- Graduates are highly employable. Business skills, such as accounting, marketing and human resources management, are useful to almost every organization. Going to business school will create job opportunities.
- Your career options stay open. If you’re unsure what to study, business is a pragmatic choice. The skills you learn won’t be wasted and you can branch into any one of many business fields. MBA degrees open up general management opportunities.
- You’ll gain versatile skills. B-school is for all-rounders. By going, you’ll develop analytical skills, report writing and presentation skills, and learn how to budget and manage projects. These are valuable career and life skills to have.
The idea that you go to business school in order to enter the “business world” is somewhat of a myth. A human resources manager isn’t a business wheeler-dealer. Many accountants or business analysts may not be either. By attending business school, you gain a practical qualification that creates both general and specific career opportunities.
As a generalization, business diplomas, associate degrees and other qualifications below bachelor-degree level can be used to secure administrative or para-professional positions. Career advancement then depends on work performance and further professional development. Job examples include:
- Business Sales Team Leader
- Compliance Manager
- Corporate Services Manager
- Customer Service Manager
- Office Manager
- Procurement Officer
- Records Manager
- Team Leader
A Bachelor of Business or similar degree can set you for numerous professional careers. And you’re not just restricted to the field that you major in. A business degree covers all the core business disciplines, meaning every business student learns some accounting, finance, marketing, etc.
Job examples include:
- Business analyst
- Business manager
- Digital marketing manager
- Financial analyst
- Financial planner
- Human resources manager
- Marketing manager
- Office administrator
- Public relations officer
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other business master’s degree is often a vehicle to compete for senior management positions. An MBA program, for example, typically combines management and leadership training with subjects such as Marketing for Managers or Analytics for Decision-Makers.
But you can also use graduate programs to change careers. Examples of master’s that support both career advancement and a new career or career pivot are masters in Applied Finance, Business Analytics, Digital Marketing, and Human Resources Management.
The professional networks you establish through the course of your studies can also lead to job opportunities. Networking is often cited as a motivating factor behind MBA candidates applying for 2-year full-time programs at prestigious b-schools.
College and university business programs may include an internship or practicum at an external company where you can put your education into practice. Some programs absolutely require it.
Diane Matthews reports that, at Carlow, “All traditional students must do an internship in their particular field (accounting, management, marketing, information systems, etc.) with a company of their choosing.”
You’ll want to investigate internship possibilities carefully. A good internship can perfectly position you for a job at the same company or an even better one when you finish school.
Business Qualifications Types
Business education is widely accessible worldwide, even in places where business itself isn’t prevalent. Several types of business programs are available.
Certificates, diplomas, degrees at business institutes and career schools
Many career-oriented schools now offer certificates and diplomas in business administration that can be earned in eighteen months or less of study, as well as two- to three-year undergraduate and sometimes even graduate business degrees.
Diploma and degree programs at community colleges
Community colleges in North America and elsewhere offer diplomas, two-year associate degrees, and occasionally “accelerated” three-year bachelor’s degrees in business administration.
Undergraduate programs at colleges and universities
Business diplomas and bachelor’s degrees are offered by many four-year colleges and universities, including Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA; Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in Houston, TX; Herzing College with campuses across the US and Canada; and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
Graduate programs at colleges and universities
The most prevalent and widely respected business degree is still the Master of Business Administration (MBA). MBAs (and sometimes PhDs and other business doctorates) are available from such institutions as Harvard Business School in Cambridge, MA; UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles; and the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Other business master’s degrees include Master of Applied Finance, Master of Business Analytics, Master of Human Resource Management, Master of Marketing, and Master of Project Management.
Online business courses
Each day, it seems, more schools are willing to teach students business courses online. Virtual classes allow you to go to business school, and interact with classmates and instructors, without having to travel at all.
Some of these online programs are natural extensions of traditional schools that have been teaching business for many years. Others are purpose-built for online study.
Online MBA programs are widely available, with the online mode increasingly becoming the preferred way to earn an MBA degree. Accelerated online MBA courses allow you to earn your MBA as a part-time student relatively quickly, by studying steadily throughout the year. You can study for an MBA online without needing any time off work.
Business Course Subjects
When you attend business school, these are the kinds of subjects you could be doing.
- Business communication polishes your verbal and written skills to a professional level. You’ll be called on to write briefs and reports, give presentations and much more.
- Economics is the science of money and the distribution of resources; microeconomics examines business problems on the personal and small-business scale, while macroeconomics examines economic trends on a big-business and government-policy scale.
- Finance teaches you how the banking, capital, and debt markets work; how to use them to raise money for your firm; and how to wisely use that money through budgeting and cash-flow and risk analysis.
- Study accounting to understand how to track and report your company’s financial activity, and how to use those reports as a basis for business decisions.
- Leadership and organizational behavior show you how individuals and groups function in an organization, how to set goals for an organization, and how to lead and motivate the organization’s people and groups toward those goals.
- Ethics and corporate responsibility emphasizes that you and your firm should make decisions that are morally right, not just for yourselves but for your shareholders, employees, community, environment, and society.
- Marketing and digital marketing are the study of making customers aware of your product, making the product optimally available to them, and motivating them to buy it.
- Negotiation will prepare you to get what you want when bargaining with employees, vendors, customers, and others.
- Developing and manufacturing products is the province of operations management; learn technology management to integrate new devices and processes, especially relating to information technology, into your business.
- In entrepreneurship, you’ll learn how to identify potential business opportunities, get the backing you’ll need to start them up, and develop them into viable organizations.
- Strategy shows you how to evaluate the information you have about your firm and its resources, the marketplace, the industry, and society in order to make better decisions about what your firm should be doing in the future.
How to Choose a Business School
There are many different factors you might want to consider when you choose a business school. Jeannette Purcell, CEO of the Association of MBAs in the UK, also gives this advice to people thinking of going for an MBA:
- Are you looking for a career move or do you want to specialise in a particular area (e.g. consultancy)?
- Are you interested in setting up your own business or are you just attracted to the idea of increasing your business knowledge?
- What study method is most appropriate for you and will your employer support you?
- Do you want to study abroad?
- What can you afford?
- Would a part-time MBA be suitable to allow you to continue working?
Diverse MBA programs available worldwide and the answer to all these questions will determine your programme choice. So have a plan and be clear about what you are trying to achieve when you go to business school.
You will probably want to choose an “accredited” school and business program. This can be tricky if you’re thinking of taking business classes online; some online offerings are not accredited. For a school to be accredited, its finances, facilities, faculty, and procedures have to have been investigated by an educational standards organization and found to meet those standards.
There are two types of accreditation. The first is the authority given to a college or university by a regional accreditation organization, allowing it to award degrees. The second is specialized business school accreditation granted by a global business school accrediting body.
By far the largest longest-serving of the business school accrediting organizations is AACSB International-The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Founded in 1916, it accredits more than hundreds of institutions in dozens of countries. AACSB accredits the entire institution, and its accreditation covers all programs at that institution, including online programs.
Another global accreditation organization is the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), which also accredits institutions. In the UK, Canada, and elsewhere, many programs are accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Individual specialties such as accounting programs and faculty are often accredited by other standards bodies as well.
Of the three groups – AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA, AMBA is the only one that strictly accredits programs. EQUIS has added a product called EPAS that also accredits individual programs. Accreditations are only good for a certain period, often five or ten years; they are then reviewed by the accrediting organization and may or may not be renewed. You should always make sure that any school you’re thinking of attending has been accredited.
Not only is a business school’s map location fairly irrelevant, so is what’s inside its buildings; it doesn’t need surgical theaters or clean rooms or simulated control towers. Nevertheless, you should take any chance you can get to check out the campus, meet the professors, talk to students, and if possible sit in on a few classes. You’ll want to attend a school where you can feel comfortable and enjoy learning.
Kelly Wilson suggests that you watch for “on-campus events such as general information sessions, visitation programs, open houses, etc. For off-campus events, there are MBA forums held by various entities; also, many business schools host receptions in various cities around the world. Typically, this information is posted on the school’s website.”
It’s possible to get training at a career school or business institute in much less time and for significantly less money than at a traditional college or university. However, graduating from a college or university will be more highly regarded by employers and will open many more opportunities for you.
Diane Matthews says, “Students should attend a business career school when the rigors of college and the four years of work do not appeal to them. But I always recommend an undergraduate college degree, and a master’s degree.”
Studying in-state or with an online business school are ways to reduce tuition fees. Online programs tend to be cheaper than on-campus programs. While the cost differential per subject may be less than you expect, an often reduced length of course can deliver large cost savings. A key advantage of studying online is the ability to do it as working professionals, avoiding time away from work. Accelerated, part-time courses are generally preferred.
One of the good things about studying business as opposed to, say, regional cuisine or high-energy physics is that courses are available everywhere. Good management and fiscal principles are virtually universal and don’t need special equipment. B-schools can be found in essentially in every major city due to the demand for business skills, which every organization can use.
Still, if a school you’re interested in has a campus rather than being a strictly online endeavor, you should consider its placement the same way you would for any other school. If you’d be commuting to it, does it have adequate parking or public transportation? If you’d be living on campus, does it have adequate services (stores, restaurants, laundromats, and so on)?
If you want to go to a small business school or career school, it can be challenging to try to assess schools’ relative reputations. Making sure they have the relevant accreditations is a good start. You can also investigate where the school’s faculty have worked in the “real world” and in what capacity.
Diane Matthews tersely adds, “Placement of grads. Success of grads.” Although one caveat to this is that the “starting salaries” of MBA graduates may reflect their career position when they began the program as much as the earnings advantage provided by the business school.
If you plan to attend a major business school at a high-profile college or university — especially an MBA program — plenty of publications publish business school rankings. But don’t take these too seriously as employers are often unaware of these league tables.
Getting Into a Business School
If you want to get into an undergraduate program, begin applying to the ones you decide you’re interested in. You’ll need to present proof that you’ve graduated from high school or have a GED. Programs with competitive admissions will want your high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, several references, and probably an essay as well; cite any work experience you’ve had (the more professional, the better).
Diane Matthews urges prospective undergrad students to “have good grades in high school. Do well on SATs. Be serious about their studies.”
Getting accepted into graduate business school
MBA and other graduate business programs will often require applicants to have an undergraduate degree (any discipline) and possibly to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the business graduate-school equivalent of the SAT or ACT. Some MBA programs accept students without a degree if they have extensive professional work experience. You don’t need a business background to be admitted.
Besides the GMAT score, Pitt’s Katz School MBA program (as an example) asks applicants for “their academic record, letters of recommendation, essays, work history, and evaluative interview. To help round out the picture, we also encourage them to provide examples that demonstrate excellent communication and interpersonal skills, leadership experience, and extracurricular and community activities.” Katz also wants MBA students to show “demonstrated capacity in mathematics, including a university-level (not secondary-level) calculus course.”