How Much Is An MBA Worth?

Robert Frost, American poet

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Excerpt from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Life is a series of choices and unless you are clairvoyant you ability to plan for the future is somewhat limited. The best you can do is gather information and conduct a quiet analysis in which you hope your hunches, experiences and that of those you trust come true.

But the thing is that there are twists and turns you cannot see nor anticipate. Sometimes those turn out to be pivotal moments that change your life and sometimes they are nothing more than a brief hiccup.


Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of my graduation…from college. It also marks the moment when I chose to find out what would happen by not going to law school or obtaining an MBA.

At that time the choice not to get an MBA was simple. I didn’t have interest in “business” and though I had some attraction to becoming an attorney it wasn’t enough to convince me to spend more time in a graduate school program.

I was done with tests and papers and interested in starting my life because I had lots of things to do.


Twenty years later I can look back with the benefit of age and experience and say I am not always certain that I made the right choice in not obtaining the “advanced degree.”

That is because I can look back now and see positions that I wasn’t able to obtain because I didn’t have a few more initials next to my name. Yet I can also argue that it might not have made a significant difference.

I can look at the financial cost and ask whether spending another $40,000 in school loans would have helped and wonder how long it might have taken to recoup my investment.

If you “Google” how much is an MBA worth you can find a variety of articles that promote both sides too. Some of them are tied into market conditions and suggest that timing is everything. If you went to school at the wrong time you would end up with a big bill and fewer opportunities to try to use to leverage your degree in which case your three letters might not be worth as much as you would like.

Of course timing in life is everything. Run a couple more “Google” searches and you can see how you could have made a small fortune from a modest investment in certain companies or how your great idea for a business might have worked better had you tried it in the year 9283.


Sometimes I think about going back to school for an MBA now. When I think about it I weigh the pros and cons.

I have an awful lot of real world experience now and have obtained skills that are worth quite a bit. I am confident that those skills and experience give me an edge over many others, including those who have obtained those three letters both recently and otherwise.

But I acknowledge that not everyone looks at a person like that. Some don’t spend time thinking about transferable skills. Some are more interested in what letters reside next to your name and some don’t see your application because the software programs they use don’t select those without those three letters.

So sometimes I find myself mulling over the idea of going back to school to gain a few more letters beside my name.  Sometimes I’ll sit under a moonlit sky and wonder if it is worth investing a little time to see if those letters open a few more doors.


And now thirty years after I first read Frost’s poem I understand and appreciate it so much better than I did the first time around.

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