Listen to this article
I have a job I love and an extremely supportive employer who is willing to sponsor me to study for a part-time MBA. My heart, however, is set on a full-time programme, which my company will not sponsor. I can afford to pay for myself on the full-time programme, but it means leaving my job. What should I do?
Are you nuts? The two things that scare people about doing an MBA are quitting the security of their job and the need to pay a king’s ransom for the course. You have a job — and not just any old job, but a job you love. You also have an employer who evidently loves you enough to be prepared to pay for a part-time course.
Instead of throwing your hat in the air, you are considering losing that good job, and impoverishing yourself by tens of thousands of dollars — possibly far more. And for what? For the privilege of being able to study discounted cash flow all the time, as opposed to some of the time. What should you do, you ask. You should go to your supportive employer and say thank you.
. . .
We run a family business and my son is keen to go to business school for an MBA. Our business can ill-afford to run without him for the year, but we would, I hope, ultimately benefit from his management knowhow. Is the time and investment spent on an MBA really worth it?
Your son is an adult, so this is a question that would be far better coming from him than from his parents — even though it is you who controls the purse strings. Still, taking your question at face value, there is an easy answer. If all he needs from business school is a bag full of techniques and if he is indispensable to the business, by far the best thing would be an online course. Then he can continue to work and learn at the same time without bankrupting you.
However, the treacherous thought occurs to me that the reason your son is pushing so hard to get an MBA is that he knows it will give him a network and might help him to fly the nest of the family business. I have no idea if this is what he is thinking, but, if so, wouldn’t it be better for all of you to have it out now? Before taking any decisions, talk to him.
. . .
In my CV sent to a top business school I slightly exaggerated some of my sporting and social achievements and omitted some of my weaker academic qualifications. Now I am about to start my programme and the thought that I may be caught out is giving me sleepless nights. How worried should I be?
Lying on application forms is madness; exaggerating makes every sense. It is not clear which side of the line you were on. If you claimed to be “a popular member of the team” when in reality lots of people dislike you, that’s fine. It’s the sort of rubbish everyone writes. But if you said that you played football for your university when actually you have two left feet, that is a real problem. Omitting weak academic qualifications is not as heinous as falsifying them; how bad it is depends on how misleading your academic performance looks without these dud grades.
The thing that gives me most doubt about your predicament is how uneasy you feel about it all: you know you’ve misled. Even if you get away with it this time — as you probably will — listen to the unease and avoid feeling it ever again by filling in application forms more accurately next time.
. . .
I am lucky enough to have been offered places at three of the world’s leading business schools. One is fantastic for networking, one has a great reputation for placing its students and the other has a superb academic brand. Which of these should take priority?
Which of the three things is the most important for you? If you don’t know, I would be inclined to go for the first one. The things you learn at business school wither and die, but the bonds you make — if they are good ones — will last and can go on helping you all your working life.
A third consideration: which place would you most like to live in? It is always impossible to know in advance which school you will like best, as it depends to some extent on who teaches you and who your classmates are. But if, for example, you don’t much like the US west coast, Stanford might not be the place for you.
. . .
My brother went to a very good business school four years ago and has said that I can pass off some of his essays and assignments as my own. I am more than happy to do this, but as he is currently between jobs I wonder if this is wise. What would you advise?
I would advise you to retract the question. No, you can’t pass off his essays as your own. That is plagiarism, and no one thinks it at all clever or funny. Not only would you get chucked out if discovered, you would be missing most of the point of going to business school — which is to learn something. As a postscript, I have no idea what your brother’s current lack of a job has to do with anything. Irrespective of his employment status, the answer is no.
. . .
My girlfriend and I applied for the same MBA programme. We both got in but now are in the process of splitting up. It is a very good school but a small programme. Should I pass on my place?
This isn’t a question I can answer for you. It depends on whether your heart is badly broken. And on whether hers is. It depends on how desperately you want to go to this school. Other things being equal, and unless your heart strongly advises to the contrary, I would stick to plan A. However bad the break-up seems now, it gets better in time, because that is simply what happens. And even if the course is small, it will have more than two people on it.
Lucy Kellaway is an FT associate editor and management columnist, and writes the Dear Lucy advice column
Be alerted on MBA