Should you accept your MBA admit during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you’re an MBA applicant in the middle of this pandemic, one question must have you stumped. Should you be paying 200 thousand dollars to business schools in the USA, Europe, Singapore or any other country, for the session starting August 2020?

The dilemma

In the past week, I have received tonnes of emails and phone calls from my applicants. Everyone had the same concern. They have paid the deposit to the business schools that they have been admitted to but are unclear whether they should be paying the entire tuition fee in a month from now. Given that nobody knows whether the MBA sessions will commence as per normal time. I had a conversation yesterday with someone who has an MIT Admit, and a very stable job in India. He said to me, “Jatin I am a month away from making the tuition deposit which is approximately 200 USD, i.e. 1.4 crores -1.5 crores in INR.”

I am going to tell you what I told him and all my applicants.



Why online classes at business schools, due to COVID-19, are an issue?

I experienced a transformation at Darden because I was there physically. I was a manufacturing professional who was clueless. I did not even know how to network in an international setting. I faced a challenging time in the first year, and am glad that the second year was easy. But I faced it by being present on campus.

The challenges I faced while chasing recruiters, networking, doing a lot of heavy lifting in MBA was crucial to my transformation. My roommates, classmates, professors, and everyone else on campus had an amazing impact on my transformation. I am glad I went through a very rigorous and initially a tough time living with people from different countries.

It was not just a course in operations, marketing or finance that I was looking for and neither are you. It is way more than that. It has to have a transforming impact.

Should MBA applicants to Top 100 business schools accept admits amidst COVID-19?

If you are going to schools beyond the internationally ranked top 50 business schools, do not have a lot of money, are getting loans from Indian or other international banks, have a stable job in India, and are doing well, explore the option of getting your MBA deferred.

Listen, I do not know your financial situation. So, if 1 crore or two crores is not a small deal for you, which it isn’t for a lot of people in India, and your business school is planning on teaching you online for the first 6 months, then I believe that your MBA will not be worth USD 200K.

Should MBA applicants with Scholarships to Top business schools accept admits amidst COVID-19?

People who have admits to top schools in the US, M7 Category, if you have scholarships, go for it. Just go for it, man. You are the ones who will bring the world back. We may be headed into recession, in fact, we are headed into a recession. But this is the time to educate yourself. I am talking to all the Wharton, Columbia, Stanford, Booth- and all the masters of the Universe kind of schools.

You will be at the forefront and you will give opportunities to consulting firms, banks, other companies to have a fresh supply of international students. It is a no brainer. You are headed to a two-year MBA program. And we live in a very fast-moving world. And we will bounce back definitely in 2 years. A lot of people will have lost their dear ones, but we will bounce back, and it won’t take us two years hopefully.

Should MBA applicants to one-year MBA Programs accept admits amidst COVID-19?

If you are heading out for a one-year MBA, and belong to the category of significant scholarships, I have the same advice for you. The world has given you gifts, pick them up and participate in bringing back a positive sentiment.

But if you belong to a category where you were earning 10 lakhs a year in India and are taking a 1 crore loan for a one-year international MBA. Also, have decided not to come back to your current employer but to seek international opportunities, you need to talk to your school. Find options to get your MBA deferred.

A lot of things have gone wrong with the economy and their country has every right to offer these jobs to the locals when the economy tries to revive. You may not be a priority for them and that is absolutely fine. You will have a tough time honestly. What you can explore is if your current organization will be willing to give you a higher pay-cheque when you come back and join them in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi after Insead, HEC, IMD, the top one-year programs.

Be nice to the schools as they have been nice to you and have offered an admit, but explore opportunities for a WIN-WIN. One-year MBA’s are generally 10 to 11 months long, and you have to experience the rigor of the program by being there.

So, if you want an amazing ROI with a one-year MBA program in Europe, and are currently doing well in India, explore the opportunities of getting your admission deferred to next year.

How can you get a deferred admission to the MBA Program?

If your school does not agree, they are not wrong either. We cannot close the MBA ecosystem. This would be the perfect time for you to find out more about the kind of support you will have for internships come December. These are all tough conversations at this stage but you need to have them.

One of my other admitted applicants to an M7 business school, which I shall not name, reached out to his school admissions committee. They said that and applicant needs a very strong reason if they wish to defer their admission, like a good promotion.

Know that the school admissions committee members are just doing their jobs. You have to empathize with them. Have a heart to heart conversation and ask them how what your MBA opportunities will look like in the foreseeable future. Find out the actions your school is taking to get you the job you want.

I really hope that a lot of things will change in the next 3 to 4 months. We will soon come out of this pandemic, and then the world will be working on the economical side of the equation.

Till then, we need to do our best in dealing with the uncertainties that have risen in every part of our lives, even MBA admissions.

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