Juno’s MBA Series aims to bring transparency to the MBA application process. In this series, we’ll interview MBA students about their paths and decision-making process. The subject of this piece has asked to remain anonymous, so we'll refer to them as Jane.
Since her undergraduate days at The University of Texas at Austin, Jane has been focused on building a career in business. She majored in marketing and minored in finance before graduating in 2017 and entering the banking industry.
Eventually, she transferred to the supply chain and operations side and took on a project management role. She began applying to MBA programs to expand her skill set to prepare herself for a position at a major technology firm. She will be graduating from the Kellogg School of Management in 2023.
From the beginning, Kellogg was her first choice. While most students apply to a handful of schools, Jane applied to 10 different programs. Fortunately, she was accepted into her top pick and the school offered her a scholarship. While she admits that finances play a role in choosing business schools, she also says it is important to also consider the overall experience, including the campus culture and curriculum.
“I will say that if I had gotten into Kellogg with little to no money, I would have still considered it depending on what other admissions I would have gotten, just because it was my number one choice. I feel like what is most important in the end is where you see yourself spending those two years, where you see yourself fitting in.”
Financing her MBA
Jane was able to finish her bachelor’s degree without any debt and start a job with a salary of around $70,000. This allowed her to enjoy a fun lifestyle while also saving up for her MBA program. Between a $90,000 savings account and a scholarship from Northwestern, she has been able to fully fund her first year. Jane is prepared to take out a loan for her second year if necessary.
While Jane feels comfortable about her financial situation upon entering her MBA program, she is having to get used to the idea of watching her savings account deplete. “Here are all the savings that I’ve accumulated since I started right out of college in 2017. Now it’s just slowly, slowly going away. I had to pay my $2,000 deposit the other day for Kellogg. And that was just $2,000 gone. I’m just trying to keep a level-headed mind about it. I’ve saved all this money for a reason; this is what I want to put it towards.” Jane is working on keeping her eye on the bigger picture.
To help anticipate expenses and avoid accumulating personal debt while she is in school, she has already started crunching the numbers and creating a budget with Excel spreadsheets. Once again though she is working on maintaining a balance and focusing on getting the most out of her experience. “It’s important to be conscious of money and how you’re spending, but at the same time, don’t let that hold you back because these are the only two years you’re going to get.”
“I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to school again. If I chose to do an MBA full time, this is the experience that I want to get. I know my lifestyle is going to get busier. I’m going to have to be juggling so many different things at once, whether it’s recruiting, whether it’s having a social life, whether it’s academics, but from a money standpoint, my mind is saying ‘have a monthly budget of how much you want to spend, but if you go over one month, it’s okay.’”
Looking back on her application process, Jane acknowledges that applying to 10 schools might have been a bit much. If she had to do it again, she would have narrowed down her choices even further. She recommends that other students get started early when it comes to the application process to reduce stress.
“My one piece of advice to anybody is that it’s never too early to start prepping for your application because a lot of schools are going to have similar essays and they’re going to have a similar application profile or things that you have to put in your application. If you have already completed your GRE or GMAT, start looking at what the previous year’s essays were and start thinking about your goals. You’re always going to have to write a goals essay. You’re always going to have to submit a resume. You’re always going to have to think back on your extracurricular activities and responsibilities.” A little preparation can go a long way.
While Jane is still early on in her MBA experience, she has a clear vision of what she wants to get out of the experience and the role finances and spending will play during her two years at Kellogg. She is prepared to go through her savings and even take out loans to cover the last semester of her education. After getting into her top school, she is looking forward to capitalizing on this opportunity and enjoying her time at Kellogg.