MBA Has Big Costs But Big Payoffs, too
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The College Leaders:
Worth the Price?
Hawaii MBA programs cost $40,000 or more and usually take at least two years to finish. Double the cost at top Mainland schools – and take many more years to pay it off if your company doesn’t help cover the bills.
But Kristine Lesperance, chairwoman of graduate business programs at Argosy University in Honolulu, says there’s no question that the MBA is worth the time and expense. “The MBA is opening more doors in terms of upper management types of positions,” she says. “It still has that ‘wow’ factor that shows somebody is really serious about what they do and interested in increasing their knowledge base and the tools in their tool kit.”
“Some companies absolutely require it,” notes David Bess, professor of management and former dean at the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. “They won’t hire you without it. For a number of organizations, an advanced degree – an MBA – is required for promotion.”
Aytun Ozturk, business dean at Hawaii Pacific University, says a master’s degree is the new B.A. while the B.A. is the new high school diploma. “Many of our MBA graduates have told us that their return on investment manifests in a variety of ways. First, the credentials for upward movement, then confidence to perform at an optimum level, and finally the critical thinking and analytical skills to excel beyond the norm.”
The Hiring Executive:
‘An Entree Ticket’
Jean Hamakawa, executive vice president and director of human resources for Bank of Hawaii, doesn’t look for an MBA first when scanning resumes, but she says it can’t hurt. “We would look at the job-related experience first,” says Hamakawa. “However, that MBA surely makes your candidacy attractive. … You have an entree ticket.”
The Grad Student:
$60,000 of Debt, But ‘Worth It’
Loryn Guiffre, 27, a Hawaii Pacific University MBA student, wants it all – the wow, the shiny star, the management job – and she’s been busting her chops for two years, with one more to go, to reel in hers.
“The buzz is if you’re going up for a promotion and someone up against you has an MBA, they’ll get it,” she says. “A lot of the major companies I’ve been looking into, the people they hire are only the ones with the MBA. But there are a lot of MBAs out there so you have to do other things to make yourself stand out. So the way I do that is work in the community, take internships and do freelance consulting work with a student organization called the MBA Club. The MBA is a foot in the door, but it’s no guarantee.”
Guiffre will be $60,000 in debt when she graduates next May.
“I am so scared about that,” she says of the debt, “but it’s definitely worth it to me. It was what I want to do and it’s realistic. You can work in almost any industry with an MBA because you have the skill set that’s transferable.”
After Guiffre graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in journalism from New Mexico State University, she fell behind financially while writing stories for a Mainland newspaper. “I couldn’t make ends meet.”
With an MBA she’ll be able to switch careers and double her salary, moving up to general or marketing manager in a corporate job. “It wasn’t that my boss told me,” she says, “it was that I knew what education they had and it was an MBA.”
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