MBA Considerations

To get an MBA or not to get an MBA, that is the question.

I’ve been considering getting an MBA for some time. At one point several months ago I had made up my mind that I was going to get one. Fortunately, I came to my senses and now I’m 95% sure that I’m not going to.

I think it started with an article in the Wall Street Journal talking about earnings reports. I had come across (yet another) term I wasn’t familiar with. My thought process went something like this: “Diluted earnings per share… what the hell is that? I have no idea. It sounds important. I better get an MBA so I figure out what its talking about.”

I started doing some research and found several online schools that offered MBA programs that focused on entrepreneurship (attending a school isn’t practical at the moment). The descriptions sounded perfect for me — if you want to start and run a business, we’ll teach you what you need to know… yada yada yada. It would cost me about $18K and 20 months of time at about 15 hours/week to get it. The wife and I discussed it and decided that I should do it.

I decided to wait a week to make the final decision.

I didn’t sleep well that week. I’d lay awake calculating in my head how much free time I’d have to work on the technical half of it. It turned out I’d have to pretty much put learning Rails and web development on hold until I finished the MBA program. I tried figuring out ways around this — maybe I could work on it during my lunch breaks. Maybe I could get up early on the weekends to get a few hours in. Maybe…

It wasn’t going to happen and I knew it–there just wasn’t enough time in the day. I’d have to put my plans on hold in order to get the MBA. When I realized that I became very depressed. I’d go hack away, frustrated that I’d have to put it on hold in order to learn what the significance of diluted earnings per share was.

There were other considerations as well. The online schools that offered these specialized MBA programs were not exactly prestigious. In fact, the primary one I was considering was solely an online school — they did not have a campus anywhere. They were mentioned on a few online MBA related web sites, but other than that, it didn’t appear that anyone had heard of them. If I was confident that I would learn everything I needed to know from their courses then maybe — but I worried that the lack of information I could find on their programs reflected on its quality. There were some good schools that offered other types of online MBAs, such as international business, accounting, and the like, but they cost upwards of $30K and I didn’t want to learn that stuff anyway.

Then it hit me. This — hacking — is what I love doing. It’s what I’m passionate about. I was considering giving that up in order to learn some business theory and definitions, something that I could learn pretty well on my own anyway. It’s not like I could even network (since they’re online) or get a resume booster (since no one has heard of them).

Additionally, given the time and money it would cost me, pursing an MBA would probably have the opposite effect on my goals. Instead of working on something tangible and acquiring the technical skills and experience necessary to found a startup, I’d be bogged in textbooks learning a lot of things I’ll probably never use. In a strange, ironic way, I think that in five years I’d be more likely to work as some mid-level manager with an MBA than without one and that is exactly the opposite of where I want to be.

And so, MBA is postponed… probably indefinitely.

I wouldn’t mind getting a masters in computer science, but I’ll save that for another post…

P.S. This guy’s recent blog article on his Wharton MBA inspired me to make this post.

2 thoughts on “MBA Considerations

  1. The very fact that you couldn’t find much information about the school you were thinking about is a really good sign that it’s not the right one, even if it’s the only school on Earth that offers the particular online MBA business program you want to take. Online schools are still a little shaky on the credibility scale unless they’re a branch of an established institution, so for the time being it makes sense to limit a search for online degrees to reputable schools that have a physical address.

  2. Vance, thanks for the feedback.

    Yeah, it just seems ridiculous to spend that much time and money getting a half-ass education. The name of the school doesn’t too much. Ideally, my career won’t have me down a path where it matters, but, I think there is a correlation between the education and the prestige of the school.

    We’ll see what happens.

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