Long story short, I agreed with his initial thoughts on waiting a few years to work first. But here's the longer version of the advice I gave him, in case it can be helpful to students or alums that you work with.
"There are a couple questions you should ask YOURSELF as you make this decision:
1) Why should I or shouldn't I go right after I graduate from college?
- For most of my students, they think they have to go straight because parents or other influencers are telling them too.
- It may be easier to go straight to grad school full time after college, your loans are already deferred, you can include your living costs and not have to work, etc.
- Keep in mind also that depending on the degree, such as an MBA, most strong programs may prefer/require a few years of full-time work experience. Meaning that if there are specific programs you want to apply to, it may not be a good fit for you to apply and go now.
- If you went to work first, do you think that you could find a job that you could stick with for maybe 2-3 years before going to school? Or maybe 3-5 years?
- Do you feel that you could find a job that would get you tuition reimbursement, because if so, that's a great resource so you might want to wait and remove that added financial burden.
3) If I waited, what kind of factors or challenges later on might keep me from actually going back?
- This is an honest question you have to ask yourself. For instance, I don't know what your situation is, but if you have a girlfriend that you think you might want to marry in the next 5 years, then you should probably go back to school BEFORE then so that it doesn't become a challenge, both in terms of time and responsibilities, but also MONEY.
- Or, do you have parents that are much older that you may have to take care of at some point? Because doing that while working and going to school can be very challenging. Not impossible. But challenging.
4) What kind of program could I afford to do if I went straight from college versus waiting?
- I could not afford to not work so I had to do a part time program while working full time. What is your situation?
- Could you afford to maybe not work for one year and then do a full-time accelerated program?
5) What kind of program do I WANT to do?
So your choices for a straight MBA are pretty much:
- Full-time, normally 2 years
- Full-time - accelerated, 1 year
- Part-time - weekends or cohort model, normally 2 years
- Part-time - executive, can be 2-3 years (most people i know that do this take 3 years)
6) Do I want to do a strict MBA? Is an MBA the right thing for what I see myself doing not just now, but later?
BUT, there are also joint MBA programs (how I wish I had looked into these…):
- MBA & MS Engineering/Applied Science
- MBA & MS Journalism
- MBA & MIA Public Affairs
- MBA & MPH Public Health
- MBA & MS Social Work
- MBA & MA East Asian Area Studies
- MBA & MPI Planning
- MBA & M Real Estate Development
- MBA & Ed.D. Doctor of Education
- MBA & MPP Public Policy
And these are just a FEW of the examples.
Basically what I'm saying is, are you 100% clear on WHERE in business you want to end up? Because an MBA is just going to teach you a little bit about a lot of different things. You're not going to learn enough HR to become a manager off the bat and feel confident, unless you did an emphasis in it. But dual degree programs, or work experience, can help you figure it out so that when you DO go back to school, you know that it's going to get you where you want to go."
Please note this reflects my own opinion, based on my own experiences, and my reflections of the experiences shared with me by others.