I have been reflecting a lot – especially while showering – on my last two years now that the MBA program is over and I have had to take on adult responsibilities once again. I asked myself whether this crazy adventure had been worth it or not, and wondered what would have happened had I not gone on with this project. Without further ado, here are my top 10 reasons to not do an MBA in no particular order:
1. It costs a hell lot of money
Oh, boy! The MBA programs are incredibly expensive so make sure you start saving all that change in your piggy bank because you’re going to need every single penny you can get your hands on. To make matters worse, you have to consider not only the tuition, but also the fact that you will most likely not be earning any money for as long as the program lasts while loans and living expenses continue accumulating. Better to think about this before you start looking for an apartment in the hottest part of the city or planning all those weekend trips to all the music and beer festivals in the surrounding area.
2. The application process is excruciating
I never believed that the application process was an accurate representation of your skills, knowledge, or potential – I’m looking at you, GMAT – but, if anything, it is designed to filter out those who will not be able to deal with the stress and frustration of what is to come. Yes, the application process is more painful than experiencing the Cruciatus curse and it is long. I spent one full year reading about the different programs, meeting alumni, going to fairs, researching study permit requirements, preparing for the GMAT, gathering the documents, writing essays, practicing for the interviews, and a bunch of other things just to get that acceptance letter. Just remembering all this gave me palpitations.
3. You have to say goodbye to your family and friends
You’re in! You came out alive and victorious of the mini-Armageddon that your life turned into the moment you started considering this program seriously. And then it hits you: You’re most likely going to move to another country and are also most likely considering finding a job and staying there for a long time. That is exciting, yes, but that means you will embark on this new journey alone, leaving your friends, your family, and your beloved cat behind. Sure, they will promise to go visit you; they might even shed a tear or two before asking for another round of tequila to send you off on a high note, but in the end you will get on that plane alone and will have to make things work by yourself from that moment on.
4. The nuisance of settling down
So you’re in a new country and ready to live the biggest adventure of your life as of that moment, right? Well, before the excitement starts, you first need to adult really hard and figure out the most basic of things: Where are you going to live? How does the transportation system work? Which carrier is best? What internet company gives you the most bang for your buck? Which bank should I choose? Where do you pay for water, electricity, and heating? How about health insurance? Where do I buy my favorite food and products? And that’s only the tip of the Adulting iceberg. Wait until you get to pension packages, taxes, driver’s license, mortgage, bank loans, etc. You will never miss your mom and dad as much as during this moment.
5. You’ll be trapped in a long-distance relationship
The MBA candidates’ average age fluctuates between the late 20’s and the early 30’s. This means that the vast majority of them is in a committed relationship but not committed enough for the significant other to pack their bags and join them. Even if they do join you, you will be busy 25 hours a day – no, there’s no typo here – whether it is studying for an exam, working on a team project, preparing for interviews, networking, or just having a much needed beer, give or take 20, with your new friends after a long day. It is no secret that this lifestyle will put a strain in your relationship, so make sure you are ready to handle it.
6. You will become an alcoholic
One of the major components of the MBA sales pitch is the alumni network that you will get access to. This is 100% true and it is in the school’s best interest to organize as many networking events as possible. However, if you’re like me, you feel most comfortable approaching complete strangers when you’re at a bar with a beer in your hand and a few more already in your system. Thankfully the school knows this and provides plenty of fuel to let even the shyest ones network like pros.
There’s a fine line between networking and getting wasted, and with alcohol flowing all the time, that line is crossed in almost every occasion. Needless to say, you will find yourself celebrating birthdays, international holidays, the end of exams period, or just the fact that you can get drunk on a Tuesday. Yeah, life is great until your kidneys, liver, and head, remind you that you’re not 21 anymore. That doesn’t mean you will be more careful when it comes to drinking, it only means you will spend a lot of your student budget to buy Tylenol and Gatorade. Needless to say, staying in bed is not an option once you remember how much money you’re paying for this.
7. Exams and papers still suck
People usually think that going back to school after spending a few years as productive members of society is a dream come true. It is not. If you want a vacation from your job, then go and take one. It will cost less and you will rest more. The MBA program is intense and you will work your ass harder than you have when you were actually working. If ever you manage to have a 9 to 5 schedule or spend a full weekend away from the faculty’s study rooms, then rest assured, you have forgotten to do at least 20 things.
Moreover, you will not be used to studying, doing homework, writing papers, or taking exams. If you think this was all painful back when you were a college student, wait until you have to do it all over again. The worst part is that even though you might feel confident about a certain subject because, you know, you have worked on it for so many years, theory doesn’t match practice, so your previous experience will not guarantee a passing note. Forget about pulling all-nighters by the way, drinking Redbull after 3 am will not give you wings, it will give you a heart attack.
8. Working again will be bittersweet
Yes, at last you signed up the offer and negotiated your salary like the badass MBA graduate that you are. Bravo. Making money again will be exhilarating and you will be tempted to spend your first few paychecks on random stuff, just because you can. You’ll get a PS4, a new apartment, bags and shoes, that exclusive annual membership for that new experimental yoga class that everyone on Instagram seems to talk about, or maybe even blow and hookers, you know, if you’re feeling extra festive.
That will be glorious, yes, but forget about getting wasted on a Monday, spending the afternoon in a coffee shop, going out for lunch, dressing casually and wearing minimum makeup, and pretty much any other liberty you allowed yourself during the MBA. You will now be trapped in an office for countless hours a day, everyday, eating in front of your screen, wondering how long until you can go back to school for another year or so.
9. People will move away
Face it: the people you spent the whole time with during these past two years, your family away from home so to speak, will most likely part ways with you as soon as the program is over. Maybe they will go back to their countries or maybe they will find jobs in other cities or countries, who knows? What is certain, however, is that your MBA bubble will burst and you will find yourself with a lot of free time and not enough people to spend it with. On the other hand, you will have a lot of excuses to visit countries you would have never thought of visiting and a lot of couches to sleep in.
10. You will want to do it all over again
Yes, you’ve been through hell; you worked harder than you’ve ever worked in your life, you made every single second of the day count, you were sleep-deprived, you had literally no food in your fridge for days because you didn’t have time to go to the grocery store. You were frustrated, angered, depressed, and worried about spending money in that extra beer when your bank account was already in red numbers. And you survived.
These two years were a roller coaster of emotions, and yet, no matter how bad, how annoying or how frustrating some days or weeks were, you will look back at the whole experience and realize it was the best decision you’ve ever made. You will miss your friends, your classmates, your teachers, the crazy schedules, the uncertainty, the randomness of it all. You will miss the bad and the good times, for they all made these past two years the best experience of your life.