The very high prices of top MBA schools are getting even higher. Within just two years time, Stanford’s estimation for the attendance cost has gone up from $166,812 to $185,054, surpassing that of Columbia Business School and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Columbia estimates a cost of $ 90,698 the first year and $ 89,234 the second year, summing up in a total of $ 179,932. That is already significantly lower than Stanford’s tuition. Wharton offers an estimate of $ 96,000 for the first year (2013-2014) of the MBA, according to its website. These are astronomical numbers for many people – especially MBA candidates who aren’t lucky enough to score a $50,000 MBA scholarship.
Stanford is now the most expensive two-year business school and people cannot help but wonder whether students are paying this much for the education or the connections. It is a fact though, that once a Stanford MBA graduate gets a job, he or she will make an average of $ 185,000 the first year. It is worth noting that more than 70% of Stanford’s graduates got hired within one month after graduating in 2012, while 93% got hired within 3 months. It is no wonder that those who can afford it, make the investment to spend two years following Stanford’s MBA program. With closely knit classes of fewer than 400 new students per year, Stanford offers a personal teaching approach and a powerful network by the time students graduate.
Harvard is offering a very competitive program and employment rates and is currently the main rival of Stanford in rankings, but offers a cost of around $ 160,000. This is significantly lower, especially if one considers the fact that Boston is not a cheap city to study in. Additionally, Harvard has the most generous fellowship program than any other US business school. On the other hand, it has the highest cost for books and study supplies reaching $ 6,700. The reason for that is the case study-based teaching method of the school. An average for books and study supplies in the top 10 business schools is around $ 2,000.
Stern School of Business has the second most expensive business program, with a cost estimate of $ 92,266 per year. And even though the estimate of living costs is high, residents of New York can assure interested students that the $ 24,500 that Stern calculates for living costs are way to little. Cornell’s Johnson School gives a more feasible budget of around $ 30,000 for two years for food and it is based in Ithaca, New York.
Business schools are becoming more and more popular, especially the ones in the top 10 lists, as they almost guarantee immediate employment and a great salary. Students and employees interested in these schools, need to make sure that they can afford them though, before starting the long application procedures. By visiting their sites, one can see that schools estimate the cost of full time attendance by adding up different categories of expenses: tuition fees, health insurance, books, study trips, case study expenses, travel costs and of course rent and food expenses. Almost all of them tend to be quite conservative in their estimations of living expenses though, and applicants need to take that in mind when budgeting. Usually, a high-end school means that the majority of the students will be able to afford a high-end lifestyle. In order to keep networking going, one will want to follow most of the activities, such as weekends in costly resorts and high-class dinners. Applicants should also take into account that almost all schools take it for granted that students will live in the campus or in a shared apartment. If there are any aspirations about more space or individuality, significantly larger amounts need to be included in the budget.
There are a few different ways to fund an MBA. Applicants need to consider their current financial status and base their calculations on that, but it is also a good idea to keep in mind the height of the expected salary after graduation. Stanford has a “need-blind” admission program. This means that no matter what the applicant’s financial background, they will be admitted if they fit the school’s profile. Then, the Financial Aid Office will help the student get student loans and/or fellowships, in order to manage to finance their studies. In Stanford, about 75% of the students get some sort of financial aid. Harvard, Columbia, Wharton and almost all schools that offer MBAs have similar offices, acknowledging the high costs and presenting their degrees as investments worth the burden of a loan.
For people who have finished their studies a few years ago and have some work experience, an MBA is a great way to gain more knowledge in a wide range of topics, develop their business skills and dramatically increase their value as employees. Even recent graduates are welcome to apply, as many top quality schools, including Stanford, do not exclude fresh graduates as long as they have a great profile. Without work experience of course, great references, recommendation letters, and a GMAT score in the target range for your school is needed.
GMAT stands for Graduate Management Admission test. It is a four-section computer-based standardized test that evaluates the candidates in different categories. The quantitative section is focused on the ability of the candidate to deal with problem solving and data sufficiency. The verbal section includes three different types of tasks: reading comprehension, critical reasoning and sentence correction. It is about understanding and correcting written speech in order to best reflect the ideas of the writer. The analytical writing section consists of an essay that is evaluated based on the analysis of an argument. Since June 2012, the fourth section has been added. It is called integrated reasoning and it has as a goal to rate the ability of the candidate to retrieve and analyze data from different sources and given in different formats. As this section is brand new, business schools are not yet taking it’s score into serious account, when it comes to the admission evaluation process. The cost of the GMAT exam is $ 250 worldwide.
The GMAT results range from 200 to 800, but if the applicants are hoping for an admission in one of the top business schools, then they have to be in the 10 percent that manages to get a score higher than 700. The top 3 business schools, according to U.S. News, have an average GMAT score as follows:
Stanford – 728
Harvard – 724
Yale – 722.
MIT, University of California-Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania share an average score of 718.
Dartmouth College students average a 716, while New York University and University of Chicago are at 715.
Northwestern University in the last one in the top ten, with 714.
Apparently, in order to manage such a high score, practice and guidance are needed. Very few people are equally strong in all four sections; and even if the student’s IQ is above average, they still need to polish their performance, in order to increase the chances of getting admitted.
What a tutor or GMAT training program can do for applicants, is to give them all the much needed tips to get from good to excellent. If one wants to get into a top business school, it is important to focus on the GMAT performance and this is a process that can start early on. Even in the first years in college, students can take the GMAT. During these years, the math knowledge from high school is still fresh and there is no need to re-learn things. If the score is good, then one can use it for the following 5 years. And even if it is not high enough for one’s ambitions, one can get familiar with the computer testing system, which can be quite intimidating. Student can increase their score by choosing math and statistics courses in college. And it needs to be stressed, that in order to become a successful businessman, wording counts. This is why applicants need good training in the verbal section, something that many math geniuses fail to acknowledge, resulting in lower total scores. Even more liberal schools that do not provide a minimal GMAT score, make it clear that high scores give a great push to your application.
In conclusion, a top-notch business school can offer great employment opportunities and fast cash flow right after graduation, but it is an investment that needs to be carefully planned on many levels. From the preparation of the application and GMAT tests to the budgeting and application for student loans and scholarships, it takes patience and effort that will hopefully be rewarded.