Pursuing an MBA during a Downturn

 | August 20,2010 10:30 am IST

As the wider economy reels under the pressure of a potential slow-down, many of you will find that the economics of an MBA suddenly becomes very attractive.

The opportunity cost comes down for many as they get made redundant.


The best possible place to learn is at school rather than on the job (if you still have one, that is!)

That said, applicant numbers also shoot through the roof during such times, raising the odds of making it to the school of your choice. An increasing number of applicants decide to pursue the MBA during a downturn to improve their chances of catching the first wave of recruitment as the economy recovers. Equally, you don't want to be graduating during a recession, especially as an international student looking for a job in a foreign land. Of course, it is difficult to predict when the downturn will move to a recovery phase, but it pays to start preparing in good time.


Here are a few things you can do to help yourself: -


Take the GMAT and the TOEFL when the pressure is less, and you've given yourself ample time to consider when to go to school, given that the scores are valid for five years.


Ensure that your statement of purpose is a bit more adept for the situation. Career changing is not a great story to sell to an MBA school during a downturn.


Focus even more strongly on differentiating your application - community service, sports, etc., are important elements of your overall profile, rather than laying out your career progression and educational background.


Widen your selection of schools to include a couple more. Remember the cost of sitting idle is more than the cost of going to an MBA school during a recession.


Seek as little financial support as possible. Draw down your savings and invest them in the MBA. Of course, you don't want to pull out your investments at the wrong time, so draw down as required. If you have some severance pay, even better. Of course, interest rates will be low too, should you want to take a loan, but often times, international student loans become harder to get. So check with the school, else try and source as much as you can from your home country.


Network with alumni and current students. Getting a recommendation from an alumnus can be an important differentiator.


Try getting your employer to sponsor you. If they want to retain you, this is a great way to do so while helping you develop yourself. It is sometimes cheaper to sponsor the MBA than pay your salary.

Once you are sufficiently armed, you will find that your chances improve drastically in light of the strong competition you are likely to face.