Thinking about getting an MBA? Then you better know why you're willing to spend the time (AND the Money) to do so. And the reason for getting an MBA needs to be your own. Perhaps you want to broaden your knowledge or deepen your finance skills – or maybe find out if entrepreneurship is for you. Whatever your goal, an MBA is a very expensive experience. If you don’t know why you’re there, then you probably shouldn’t be. And saying that the job market is terrible and an MBA will help me get a job – that's totally the wrong reason to get an MBA!
The best students I have in the graduate classroom view their MBA tactically: a step on the way to a specific destination they’re determined to reach. They pick their classes strategically. They aren’t afraid to challenge and bring up controversial topics – because they know they need to stretch themselves. They are following their own agenda and plan, not some school’s vanilla plan created mostly by folks who never have (nor never will) successfully run a business.
As a faculty, my view on grades is very simple: You’re not going to graduate school for the grades - you’re there for the learning. Not for the external validation that you can pass someone’s test – but your own internal, personal development. Apart from not flunking out, you shouldn’t be there for the grades. (And by the way, I have never known an employer ask about your MBA grades unless you have absolutely nothing else to talk about.)
Are these purpose-driven students high-maintenance? Oh hell yes - most all the time! But I love them for that. I admire their determination and focus and I take them very seriously. If they can apply that kind of critical thinking to their careers, they stand a far better chance of applying it to their businesses.
So at the risk of annoying every other business school professor out there, here’s my advice: to get your money’s worth from your MBA, know why you’re there, pursue your goal ruthlessly and with total focus. Forget about grades and bend the program to meet your needs. Make your investment in yourself count!