The real reason to apply to an MBA program: Find Your Tribe

I very nearly applied to a couple of MBA/Graduate type programs this year, most notably Stanford and Singularity University. I am interested in both of these programs due to their nature. Stanford is one of the only programs I know of that actually has students creating real businesses over their time there. Why every institution touting entrepreneurship doesn’t follow this method I am unsure. Singularity University focuses on teaching exponential technologies in order to solve global problems, which is very attractive in a rapidly evolving world.

Why didn’t I apply? Well my main reason is this: I am already building a company. I moved away from distractions to focus solely on myself and my business, and a full course load might not be the best complement at this time. I found myself much more concerned with working on my own company than studying for tests like the GRE.

I truly believe requiring test scores is pointless in this rapidly changing world we now live in. Though there is one somewhat valid reason, which I assume to be THE reason, why institutions like Stanford still require test scores: Taking those tests requires effort, and MBA programs want to validate that their applicants are truly dedicated. I believe that there are better ways to accomplish this, but that’s for another post.

Putting together all of the required documentation for an application is another daunting task to some. Substantial time and effort are required to wrangle together the proper documents and records. This is another place where the 21st century hasn’t seemed to arrive yet. Surely my schooling records are all digitally stored and can be accessed via the correct channels. If TurboTax can “magically” do my taxes and find documents and records I could have easily forgotten, then surely these prestigious institutions could figure it out. Or better yet they could incubate a student founded company that could figure it out!

With the multitude of data available on each of us, institutions combing through applicants could be analyzing their way to some great students. There are dangers to relying only on data, but that’s where the written part of the application comes in. It’s the pieces of the application that involve explaining personal reasons for applying that really make the application process valuable.

By taking the time to apply to a program such as an MBA, you will have to dig through your life, your goals, and your self quite deeply. If you were unsure to any degree before you started applying, digging through yourself in order to complete the application will bring the truth to the light. This makes the application process quite valuable on an individual level.

The real reason why I would apply to an MBA program: Networking. And no, not the “how many connections can I make”, “how many business cards can I collect”, or “how can I make friends with the celebrities” type of networking so frequently touted in get rich quick circles. The networking I speak of is that of finding a tribe.

There are many talented people out there who don’t have a tribe that supports them or nurtures their passions. Their abilities are plateaued due to their environment, not that we should use environment as an excuse in a world of free information. It should be noted though, that many of us had to reach a point of “critical mass” in order to achieve the momentum needed to continuously strive towards our goals. If these talented people could find their way to a place where similar minded individuals gathered, then they too could find their tribe and begin to thrive.

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