Everything You Wanted to Know about an MBA Degree, But Were Too Afraid to Ask!

MBA TextIn 2002, when I applied to business school, I knew that “getting in” to a top MBA Program was no easy task.  There were so many parts to the process, including:

1) Understanding why I wanted to get an MBA in the first place.

2) Learning about the different types of MBA Programs and various Business Schools.

3) Researching financing options.

4) Approaching recommenders that could detail my strengths.

5) Completing applications and essays.

Once I took care of these parts, I realized there was so much more to do.  From interviews and on-campus visits to actually choosing the right school for me and preparing for academic and networking success, it seemed like a never-ending journey.  But it was one made a bit more manageable due to the influence of a few mentors, including some truly wonderful faculty members at UCLA and at the University of Michigan.

I was fortunate.  Not everyone may have mentors at the schools to which they apply.  As such, it is important for prospective applicants to do their own due diligence.  There is no substitute for research.  Furthermore, the importance of visiting schools and establishing connections with students, alumni, faculty, and staff cannot be overstated.  After all, the culture of the school is largely shaped by its community of scholars, and this culture is something that cannot be researched.  It must be experienced.

The value of an MBA from a top school is immense.  Graduates of the top schools earn salaries that are, on average, double or more of what graduates from other schools make.  Increased salaries are not the end of the story.  Greater career choice, increased job security, faster job promotions, more interesting work, higher status, and numerous other benefits also result from a top MBA, so it is no wonder that so many people want to get into the best school they can manage. Join me on College Smart Radio as we discuss all this and more…it will cover everything you have always wanted to know about an MBA degree, but were too afraid to ask!  If you have any specific questions not addressed on the show, I am happy to address them off-the-air.  You can reach me at npmehta@umich.edu.

This post was provided by Nirav Mehta, Associate Director at the University of Michigan, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on May 17th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: OpenSource.com

Looking For Great College Bargains

Sale Stickers

Excuse me if this sounds ridiculously elementary, but here goes:

One way to cut your college costs is to look for schools with lower sticker prices.

My nephew Matt attends Westminster College in Fulton Mo, a liberal arts college, where the tuition and room/board is $30,490. Ninety eight percent of the students at Westminster don’t pay full price. The average merit scholarship is $11,500 and the average need-based award is nearly $16,000.

Matt, who is a sophomore, is thriving at Westminster where he has made friends, enjoys small classes and benefits from attentive professors.

My son Ben, a senior, is having an equally great experience at Beloit College, where the price tag is higher.

Comparing Prices

The tuition and room/board at Beloit College is $48,506. The average merit award is $17,600 and the average need-based award is $25,000.

The total price for someone, who qualified for a merit scholarships from Westminster, would be $18,990 versus $30,914 for a Beloit student who snagged a scholarship.

Is Beloit worth the extra $11,924?

And what about the schools, particularly on the coasts that cost an additional $10,000 to $15,000 more than Beloit?

In our family, the price was not a deal breaker because my husband and I could afford to pay for Ben’s No. 1 school. But I would suggest that the education students receive at Westminister is going to be quite comparable to Beloit’s.US news books

I’d argue that a big reason for the price differential is the college rankings. Beloit is ranked as the 59th best liberal arts college and Westminster is ranked as No. 146th.

Families looking for bargains are more likely to find them if they search lower in the rankings. And, just as importantly, look outside cities and especially those on the coasts where schools can charge a premium.

Sorting Schools by Price

Today I want to share with you a new helpful tool that The Chronicle of Higher Education has rolled out that will allow you to sort through 3,000 schools by price, as well as by price for schools in each state. Play around with this tool and should find some more affordable hidden gems. (You won’t be able to access the tool without a subscription, but here is a PDF of the latest prices for schools broken down by state.)

To demonstrate what you can find, I checked prices in Ohio which has a large number of private institutions that are competing for students in a state with declining high school students.

I created a list of private schools based on price and here is a screenshot of the most expensive private schools in Ohio:

ohio 1

When I looked more closely at the list, I was surprised to discover that price and rankings were highly correlated!

Liberal Arts Colleges

First, let’s take a look at the Ohio schools on the list that are in the National Liberal Arts College category. Their rank by cost correlates exactly with their U.S. News ranking:

  1. Oberlin College  25 (U.S. News ranking)
  2. Kenyon College 32
  3. Denison University 50
  4. College of Wooster 65
  5. Ohio Wesleyan U. 100
  6. Wittenburg U. 123
  7. Hiram College 156

National Universities

This trend also held for the two Ohio schools on the screenshot that are ranked in U.S. News’ National University category:

  1. Case Western Reserve University 37
  2. University of Dayton 112

Regional Universities – Midwest

The trend doesn’t hold for the schools in the Midwestern regional category, but I suspect that could be because people pay less attention to the rankings in this category. The two premiere categories for U.S. News are the national university and liberal arts categories.

  • John Carroll University 7
  • Xavier University 4
  • Capital University 35
  • Marietta College 4
  • Otterbein University 17

Looking for Good Buys

I’m not going to get into a discussion of rankings here, but I’ve discussed in my book and my college blog why U.S. News’ college rankings are horribly flawed and even destructive. And yet my little exercise would suggest that we are often paying for schools based on these rankings!

There are wonderful education opportunities at many schools regardless of what U.S. News might think of a school. Here are just two examples:

Marietta College has an impressive program for petroleum engineers – the only liberal arts college that offers this – that enjoys an awesome placement rate. Baldwin Wallace University, an Ohio school that didn’t make my screenshot (its tuition is just $27,840 before aid or scholarships) enjoys 100% placement for its highly regarded music therapy programs.

There are many hidden gems out there and if you want to cut the price of college, I’d start looking for them.

(Note: I have discovered that if you don’t have a Chronicle of Higher Education subscription, you can’t access the tool that I discuss in this post. I did receive permission from The Chronicle this afternoon to share this PDF of the prices of individual colleges that are broken down by price.  Lynn O.)

This post was originally featured on the website of Lynn O’Shaughnessy, College Expert, Author & Consultant, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 29th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Becoming an “Angular” Student

students_readingIn the early eighties, when I applied, the buzzword for college acceptance was “well-rounded,” which referred to a student who participated in many different activities.

That is no longer what colleges are looking for from applicants. Now they want to build a well-rounded class made up of students who will each fill one or two slices of their total round pie: in other words, students who are unique, focused, and angular (or express excellence or uniqueness) in their interests.

Peter Johnson, The Director of Admission at Columbia University, echoed this view when I heard him speak recently.  Johnson said that Columbia is seeing a rise in what he calls “Niche Applicants” and what I call Angular Applicants. These are students who have already demonstrated a deep independent intellectual curiosity or expertise in a given area from science research to humanities to outstanding athletics. An angular student can also be a student who has developed a degree of excellence in one or two areas—leadership, intellectual curiosity, athletics, or community service—or who has a special talent or exhibits unusual personal character.

I developed The College Application Wheel™ to serve as a framework and tool to assist you in identifying your strengths and “gaps”—areas that you may need to fill in such as community service or higher standardized test scores—it will also help you determine where your energy may best be spent in making yourself shine or stand out from the crowd. It will help you understand what makes you unique, how to find a college that values you for who you are, and help you see where there is a match between you and a specific college.

The College Application Wheel™

college_app_wheel

The key components of the College Application Wheel are:

  • Academics/test scores
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Leadership
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Athletics
  • Special talents
  • Financial
  • Other

Colleges don’t expect you to excel in all eight of these categories, but they do look at these areas to determine if you will be a good academic, cultural, emotional, financial, and character-based “fit” with their institution.  So what’s your angle?

Bio
Lisa Bleich is founder and president of College Bound Mentor, LLC and the author of Surviving the College Application Process: Case Studies to Help You Find Your Unique Angle for Success.  She mentors students from all over the world on the college application process, helping them uncover their strengths and develop a personal plan for success. Lisa holds a BA in European cultural studies and French from Brandeis University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters. Two of them have successfully survived the college application process!

This post was provided by Lisa Bleich, College Bound Mentor, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 22, 2014.  Listen to the broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: University of Nottingham

The Importance of Early Career Exploration

Candid Career LogoHow did you find yourself in your first job?  Did you take it for the money?  Was it the career your father or mother did?  Or did you simply not have a better idea?

Whatever the reason, it is too big of a decision to take lightly. Far too many students don’t have all the information to make the best choice or the information is hard to come by, boring to review, or even worse, fabricated.  Until now!

CandidCareer.com is the premier provider of career profile videos to educate students on the possibilities.  At Candid Career, we believe that the best career advice comes from the individuals that are actually doing the jobs every day, so that is exactly who we bring to you.  We also believe that young people love video. As video becomes more common for educational purposes, the ability to access honest career information and advice through video becomes essential.  The experience on CandidCareer.com is a convenient and non-intimidating one for students. After all, we know how much time they spend on YouTube!

Candid Career has recently partnered with LEAP (Learning Enrichment and Assistance Program, LLC) to add even more clarification on finding a college major and career path that matches the interests of a student.  CandidCareer.com is now part of the LEAP Fit 2 Flourish program.

For over 50 years, the Birkman Method® has been an industry leader in personality assessment assisting over 3.5 million participants with dialing into their hard wiring. This multi-dimensional tool focuses on measuring usual behaviors, underlying needs, stress behaviors and interests to reveal multiple ingrained personality dimensions. This information combined with a student’s academic profile directs the student in discovering best match, economically safe careers, the college majors that lead to those positions and the schools respected for these majors.

If a student can start college having chosen a major and career path confident needs will be met, interests embraced and stresses avoided then the 4-year graduation rate sky rockets saving thousands in future tuition.

Students take the 45-minute online assessment in the comfort of their home. Once your Birkman and LEAP Student Profile are complete, we marry the two sets of information into best-fit suggestions for the individual student. Families receive via email the full 55 page Birkman® results, the 24 page LEAP Fit 2 Flourish report including 3-5 best fit careers for exploration, 3-5 majors leading to these careers, 3-5 colleges respected for these majors.

Students can take these career suggestions and explore them on CandidCareer.com.  There are multiple search options when browsing through the thousands of videos on the website such as Industry, Career Title, College Major, College Attended, City, and State. Once students have found a career that peaks their interest, learning more is as easy as clicking play.  Industry professionals on the site speak to what they love about their careers and some of the challenges.  Professionals also give advice on how to prepare for their careers, such as college majors, course work and/or internships and training to consider.

CandidCareer.com and LEAP share a passion for helping students graduate on time with a job in a career path that excites them. The future is right around the corner, and those that prepare for success, are more likely to achieve it!

This post was provided by Neilye Garrity, Co-Founder of CandidCareer.com, who was a guest along with Lisa Mader, President of LEAP (Learning Enrichment and Assistance Program, LLC) on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 15th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Hofstra Career Center