How to Leverage Your Career Plan with Postgraduate Studies?
By Hubert Ho | Head of Admissions Consulting Services, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
2020 is a very challenging year for people all over the World. We are not just attacked by the COVID-19 and a huge wave of economic recession follows the pandemic. The wave has caught almost all businesses. That’s not hard for us to see that the environment becomes hard for businesses to survive even for those big brands and chain stores.
People starts to consider taking a second degree, i.e. master degree and MBA, at this period of time preparing themselves for the economic reconstruction in the coming near future. It leads to the MBA admissions and graduate school admissions becoming a very competitive battlefield, not just require high standardized test score and high grade point average (GPA) but also an attractive student’s profile as well as a clear and convincible career plan for catching the Admissions Committee’s (Adcom) eyeballs. Many candidates ask about what the Adcom refers to. Let us throw some clues here for reference.
Why do you really need a Master Degree/MBA?
Let ask yourself on your objectives for obtaining a master degree or MBA. Possibly you will name three main reasons, i.e. specific skill acquisition, job promotion and salary increase, and career change. Now, we are going to see how these reasons do not stand out from an application.
- Specific Skills Acquisition
It is always good to go for further studies. Knowledge can help us to understand things more and give us insights on dealing with complex problems. However, let us think about it again. We can probably spend the tuition fees to buy tons of books or tool books for acquiring those skills we want and it can result in saving money and more effective than studying a master degree and a MBA degree for one year.
- Job Promotion and Salary Increase
A lot of people has a fantasy on obtaining a master degree or MBA in order to get a job promotion or salary increase. However, they do not really tie to each other. There are a lot of factors affecting these two things to happen but not just relating to whether you have a second degree. Master degree is becoming a very popular thing in the labor force these days. The number of people with master degree has raised from about 8% in 2015 to 13.1% nowadays. As a result, it doesn’t mean to have a salary increase by obtaining a master degree.
- Career Change
Master degree and MBA have been used as the pathway for changing career in recent years. Is it really a viable option for it to happen? There is no definite answer since it depends on how you choose your master degree’s concentration. More and more people would like to use a MBA certificate to enter Business Consultant field as their second career. Of course, the MBA can be using to help you achieving such goal but not all MBA programs can do that. Which program you pick will definitely change your destiny. Therefore, career change is also a myth.
All the aforesaid reasons seem not a reason for pursuing a postgraduate study. You may want to ask what should be the real reasons for that. In general, it is not saying that those are not the reasons but it must need to your true purpose and you need to think about whether those reasons are aligned with your ultimate goal. For competitive programs, they are looking for students who have dream and solid execution plan. Graduate schools would like explore more about how you want to achieve your success in the future by using not just your own effort but also their resources. You will know choosing different schools and programs will definitely lead to different results.
Let us look at some myths about take the graduate programs.
Myth #1: “I should take a master degree in the same field as my Bachelor Degree.”
It really depends on your own situation. In general, this statement is wrong. In recent years, multiple skills are required for people to help corporate to solve a single problem. You may also notice the increasing number in bachelor degree with multiple disciplines. It indicates to you that you should acquire another set of skills to stay competitive in the job market rather than focusing on one particular skill set.
Myth #2: “That’s so good that I can do my master degree at the same school as my bachelor degree.”
It is a very tricky question as it will relate to your career strategy. It is not a weird thing for people to think about their resources and networking. When you graduate from one school, you can access its resources and opportunities through the alumni network. In this sense, you will immediately understand that it will be wise to gain access to another source of resources and opportunities. In another point of view, employers also know that the admissions criteria for alumni are always looser than a new recruit. The hidden message that you are writing in your resume is that you may not be as competitive as your other classmates.
Myth #3: “I have great GPA and GMAT/GRE score so that the graduate school must give me an offer.”
Great GPA and standardized scores are just the differentiator for your academic capability. It doesn’t show your potential in your future success. Graduate schools always want to look at your potential in future success. Scores do not reflect it to the admissions team. Again, your resume and your dream tell the story to them.
It seems like it is very hard to stay competitive nowadays. True! It is not just hard to stay competitive but also hard to be competitive. It requires detailed and smart planning for the next few steps for transforming yourself being an elite in the current World. Do you think that you are ready for this challenge?
Mr. Hubert Ho
Head of Admissions Consulting Services, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
Associate Member of IECA, Member of NACAC and AEE
MCom (Finance), UNSW
BCom (Management & Marketing), University of Wollongong
- 10+ years of experience in helping students gain admission to top graduate schools.
- Success case: Yale SOM, Tuck School of Business, Harvard Business School (HBS), NYU Stern School of Business, Chicago Booth
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