Q: My child is 21 year old and wants to do an MBA abroad? What is the right time for MBA and where should he do an MBA from? Which country is better?

Answer By Purvi Tantia: As humans we often get into a herd mentality and try and follow what people in large groups are doing. One of such things is doing an MBA. Sharing my personal story first. As a BCom(H) student, studying in Lady Shriram College in Delhi University, I was inclined to study MBA, following the same herd mentality and then a conversation with my cousin, who is a graduate from Harvard University USA brought me closer to the reality of the requirement of average 3 years of work experience to be admitted to Harvard MBA Program. So, I had made up my mind to work and then go abroad for MBA. But then immediately upon my graduation, I was chosen to study on full scholarship in Australia, so I ended up doing my MBA from Australia itself – that too before gaining any full time work experience.

So, coming to your question – What is the right time to do an MBA? Most western universities require an average of 3-4 years of post graduation work experience for an MBA application. Although in recent times, there have been a surge of deferred entry MBA programs, whereby some top universities like Harvard, Yale or Indian School of Business (and many others) have allowed undergraduate students to apply for MBA while the students are in their undergraduate program itself and if they are selected, the students join the MBA program after a few years of work experience. The entry requirement of each deferred entry MBA is different and it gets updated on the university websites. These deferred entry requirements are very competitive but if you think your child has an extra ordinary caliber in business, do go through this option.

A logical question here is: What is the main difference between doing an MBA before work experience or after work experience? When we do an MBA before gaining substantial work experience in real life, our thought process is more bookish than practical. Whereas when you are studying the same theory after gaining work experience, you can relate to your real life challenges and understand the same concepts from real life perspective.

Before deciding to select the MBA degree for your child, have a clarity of thought on why the MBA is needed for your child at the point in time. More often than note, MBA candidates are matured individuals who can reason out for themselves, so giving a free hand to your child is important. Since the Indian thought process of completing the studies at once and then starting to work, especially in family businesses, continues to dominate – there have been numerous universities in the world which have started their MBAs for freshers. This is the power of India – which really motivated a lot of universities to start MBA for freshers program. Not surprisingly, majority of the students in these courses are from India. So, you might not get the kind of international diversity in these courses as you will get in the other MBA programs which require 3-4 years of work experience.

When B-Schools interview you for MBA programs, they want to know what will you do with the MBA degree and how will it help you to achieve your short term and long term goals. So, if you are going just for the sake of getting a placement offer from the B-School, it might not be the best reason to do an MBA. Most MBAs from top universities across the world are expensive and thus, reason out the cost effectiveness of the MBA in relation to your short term and long term goals. Moreover, many B-Schools abroad might not have graduate placements on campus in a manner in which it is conducted in India. These B-Schools usually have a placement fair where all companies come and deliver presentations but the students apply through the regular job application route on their website and the selection process is not conducted on the campus like it is done in India.

The selection of the country depends on various attributes, like the budget for the degree, the duration of the course, the lifestyle of the student or the visa laws of the destination country. USA has far more number of universities and colleges than any other country. For this reason, the popularity of USA is more as compared to other countries, but you can get good institutions in almost every country. If your child is rank conscious, then USA has more universities in the top ranks, but there are a few European or Asian universities as well in the top ranks. Your GMAT score, your work experience, your statement of purpose and your recommendations will play a crucial role in determining your chances of getting admissions in the top universities. If the applicants are truthful in the application, the chances of acceptance are higher as the applicant will be way more comfortable and confident in the interview if the application reflects the applicant’s identity truly.

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