Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The MBA Question

Came across that question again while in the midst of my ritual afternoon headline skimming: Is the MBA worth it? Of course, the last analysis varied rather starkly from the prior fifteen that were either for or against the program. What is troubling though is not that there were so many different views, but that each one was well, right. 

Is any graduate program worth its endeavor? Anyone who has been through any graduate level understands just what that entails: big, tedious - and might I add- heavy textbooks, additional assigned readings, papers, projects, group work, debates, discussions. While it may not sound fun, it actually could be - depending on the program, your perception and the instructors. But no one enters a two year academic program for entertainment, but to expand their knowledge, increase their salaries or for bragging rights. Yes, they do. But overall, they're aiming for better opportunities, to set themselves apart from peers. Whether or not they reach that goal does not necessarily stop at completing that degree, but rather what one does with it. 

A graduate degree has its purpose. The rigorous work that accompanies it expands your thinking and changes your perspective.  No longer are you obligated to the lectures of the old professors pacing the front of the classroom during those undergraduate years.  You actually have the opportunity to share and acquire knowledge. Students are forced to listen and contemplate different opinions and are then expected to reflect, analyze and respond objectively. They are also exposed to more depth and scope of material, going beyond the definitions of theories and their origin. Does this help encourage success in the real world? Of course. Does it lead to promotions and higher salaries? That depends. But does that mean that the graduate program is sufficient? Yes and no. 

There was a time that all we needed was a bachelor's degree. It set you apart, made you more marketable, employable. Not anymore. With all the needless talk of an improving economy somewhere in the horizon long discredited, a bachelor's degree has declined in value. The graduate degree is going down the same path, although it still gives holders a competitive edge. But to enjoy its full value, it should be supplemented by professional certification. Now that many adults are returning to school for advanced degrees, certification shows prospective managers that applicants are willing to go that extra step and become an expert in their fields. Which is why many workers are now encouraged to mention that they are either considering certification or are qualified to sit for the exams, but only if they are of course. 

So you gain that extra knowledge, pass that certification and then what? Merely possessing one does no good. Neither is occupying the same position for three decades. To realize the benefit of acquiring that extra degree under your repertoire of accomplishments,  you need to put it to good use. No one knows what that is except the individual who
worked extra hard to earn it. Aside from becoming qualified you should ask yourself two questions: how will I use it and what will I do with it. Because whether its the graduate degree or the certification process, its worth will be as valuable as its service. 

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