My assessment of the benefits of an MBA from a top school

I love business and entrepreneurship. I love it so much that I can’t sleep sometimes because I just want to go out and DO something. One of the things I’d like to do is get my MBA. Now, I know that many lifelong entrepreneurs are no fan of the MBA, but for me, there are five primary benefits of an MBA from a great school, in order of ascending value to me:

5. The technical skills and training you receive

I would argue that this is the least valuable part of spending $250,000 for a top MBA program (including lost earnings while attending), as most of this knowledge is freely available to anyone, via books and so forth. Most of the case studies from Harvard Business School can be ordered online and delivered to your door. Additionally, this seems the thing that you are least likely to look back on as what enabled your career to flourish.

4. The credibility of a world-class education

It’s undeniable that certain schools have greater cachet than others. Merely having the right alma matter on your resume can open doors for you that would otherwise remain closed. I went to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for my undergraduate degree, which was a great school where I learned alot but not exactly a prestigious school. You can argue that the system is broken, but I’d rather work with the system than against it. Additionally, the large and very influential alumni networks of some of the best MBA programs are an invaluable resource that can open many doors for you.

3. The improved earning power that you have upon completion

Historically, the top MBA programs produce graduates who earn more immediately after graduation and grow their earnings faster than MBA graduates from less prestigious programs. Surveys have shown that graduates from the top programs often make as much as 150% more than than their pre-MBA salaries. The top programs are more expensive, but in the long run, they have been shown to be a financially sound return on investment.

2. The connections and bonds that you form with your peers in the program

Students make friendships and bonds together that may last their lifetime. While many undergraduate students lose touch after college, MBA students are generally older, more mature, often married, and often enjoy a clearer direction in life than they did as undergraduates. As a result, MBA graduates often form long-lasting friendships and bonds that serve them well both personally and professionally. I know that getting an MBA will be a lot of very hard work, but I expect to have fun along the way with others who are sharing the experience with me.

1. The opportunity and experience of learning about what you love from some of the best in the world

This is it. This is one of the main reasons that I want to get my MBA. As I said at the start of this post, I love business and entrepreneurship. I have many heroes and mentors, and the best schools have the ability to pull those people in and have them share their experiences in a very intimate and personal setting. For example, Harvard Business School teaches cases that deal with real-entrepreneurs and leaders in business, such as Michael Dell, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos. Often, these visionary leaders join the class via teleconference or even a live appearance to discuss the details of the situation they faced in the case study, and how they dealt with it in real life. Students are encouraged to ask questions and seek more detail.

At a program like Harvard’s, you have the opportunity to sit in a room with 90 other brilliant and eager young people who want to change the world, discuss a real-world problem that was faced by a real-world business leader, led by a professor who is probably one of the foremost academic experts in the world on the subject, and on top of that, that business leader may be sitting in your classroom and answering questions by students about the decisions they actually made and why.

How can you put a price tag on that?