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Is Now the Best Time for Your MBA?

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best time for your MBA

Time is the wisest counselor of all. – Pericles

Once you decide to go to business school, timing becomes a crucial consideration. How do you know whether now is the best time for your MBA? For some candidates, particularly those on the younger or older side of the applicant pool, addressing the timing question in their materials is especially critical. As we stressed in B-Schooled podcast #70, you’ll need to convince the AdCom that applying during this upcoming application season makes the most sense for your career goals.

This thought experiment will get you thinking about why you want or need to get an MBA right now. First, consider what would happen if you didn’t get an MBA. What would your career path look like? How would you achieve your long-term goals? The result: Your career would likely look like X, and it would take Y number of years to reach your goals without the degree. 

best time for your MBA

Next, imagine getting your MBA. What exactly would it do for your career? Would it accelerate your trajectory at your current firm or industry? Or might it allow you to pivot into an entirely different industry or role? Business school could also help you gain the skills and network you need to feel confident starting your own company. Another common reason is that you’ve plateaued in your current field.

While that isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons, it can help you project what these two distinct career tracks—the non-MBA path vs. B-school—might look like. Doing this exercise should help you more clearly articulate why you need an MBA overall and why it makes sense to get one at this point in your life and career. 

 Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant. 

Avoid Giving This Reason (Even if it’s the Truth)

In industries such as banking and consulting, people are often expected to go for their MBA at a specific time. Your current firm may not offer significant growth opportunities even if you want to stay. Yet even if that’s true, you can’t tell the AdCom that now is the best time for your MBA because everyone you know in banking got an MBA after two years. Or because it’s the norm in your industry. 

Don’t follow someone else’s pre-determined career timeline. If you feel some external pressure to apply now, take the time and space to ensure it makes sense for your hopes and dreams.  

So, Is This the Best Time for Your MBA?

There’s no one best time for going back to B-School. In the past, elite programs required five to seven years of work experience before applying. Several top schools have deferred admissions programs explicitly geared to attract college seniors. Once admitted, these candidates work for two years and then start their MBA studies. 

The question at hand for everyone else is whether waiting for another year or two before applying will significantly boost your admissions odds. Would that extra time give you more leadership opportunities, career advancement, or an international assignment? 

For applicants who skew much younger or older than the target program’s average age, it will be crucial to show what you bring to the classroom that no one else can. A considerable part of the MBA experience is sharing your unique anecdotes during classroom discussions.  Think of it from the AdCom’s point of view. They want to admit applicants who will come to the table with many life stories their peers will benefit from.

If you’re on the older side, what else can you bring to the table? More experience timewise doesn’t necessarily mean more value for your MBA classmates. So, think about what’s unique about your long career and its relevance to classroom discussions. 

For younger applicants, if you’ve never gotten promoted or had an appreciable increase in responsibilities, that’s a red flag telling you it doesn’t make sense to apply just yet. 

Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to test prep to hourly help with targeted tasks. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Explaining Your Reasoning

Once you decide that now is the best time for your MBA, you’ll need to use diplomacy in your reasoning to the AdCom. If you’re returning to school because you’ve hit a wall, that’s a valid and common situation. Explain that you’ve realized your learning has slowed, and you know that you need X, Y, and Z from their MBA program to progress. Then, transition to discussing how specific courses, clubs, conferences, professors, etc., from that program would support your career goals. 

No matter what, make sure to sound grateful and upbeat about everything you’ve learned so far on the job. You never want to come across as negative about your past employers or career to date. That will give the admissions committee an easy justification to ding you. 

Because from their perspective, you won’t be excited to share stories and lessons from your past role with your classmates if you aren’t happy about any of it! Think carefully about what you’ve learned that you can still apply to your future career.

If you’ve been on autopilot until now, you owe it to yourself to do some serious introspection. Too many people have regrets later in life for merely going through the motions in their careers. Maybe they did what others thought they should or followed a career timeline deemed successful by somebody else. Ensure the reasons for pursuing the MBA support your goals and dreams—no one else’s. 


Request a free MBA advising session with Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help with your complete MBA applications. Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

The post Is Now the Best Time for Your MBA? appeared first on Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting.

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