Is attending a top US B school worth it for an international ?

Hey,

I'm a long time reader of this forum and wanted an opinion on something that I know a lot of international students think about:

Is it still worth attending a top US business school as an international ?

My thoughts:

-- Most internationals want to work for a few years in the US, gain some experience, clear their debt and go back to their home country (or at least most that I've spoken to).
-- An MBA was great while finance and consulting were doing well but they're not now and things don't look like they're getting better.
-- Details: Lets limit the discussion to the M7 schools and assume it costs $150k total for the degree. If you don't get a job in the US and have to move back east (China, India, Singapore etc. etc.) even with all the hype, salaries are still a fraction of the US ($50k approx for India from what my friend got) and you could spend years repaying your loan. Isn't it better to just attend a school in your home country (ISB, HKUST, NUS, insert you're favorite Asian B school here, all of which cost WAAAY less than an American degree) and invest the rest ?
-- B schools make a lot of noise about brand, alumni etc. but in Asia unless you're from H/S/W you won't get much of a premium for your degree (in short, recruiters prefer a top grad from a good school locally to someone from Columbia cos they figure they both could do the job and the local guy won't want as much money as the guy from Columbia).
-- As an international, you attend school on a student Visa; this results in recruiters favoring local students (can't blame them really) and networking / perseverance pays off less for us since you may be able to impress recruiters but you can't get around immigration so "hustling" doesn't help as much.

What do you guys think, is it still worth it ?

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Comments (24)

Dec 20, 2011 - 7:59am

apparently the OP has done something douchey in the past that i'm missing here, but i think this is an interesting question and brings up some important points. i am surprised at $50k, that is a pittance

Dec 20, 2011 - 8:07am
bortz911:
apparently the OP has done something douchey in the past that i'm missing here, but i think this is an interesting question and brings up some important points. i am surprised at $50k, that is a pittance

In comparison to other third world incomes, that's quite a lot actually.

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Dec 20, 2011 - 8:55am

^ You two, read OP's post again:

valleybandar:
If you don't get a job in the US and have to move back east (China, India, Singapore etc. etc.) even with all the hype, salaries are still a fraction of the US ($50k approx for India from what my friend got) and you could spend years repaying your loan.

:)

Dec 20, 2011 - 9:14am
seedy underbelly:
^ You two, read OP's post again:
valleybandar:
If you don't get a job in the US and have to move back east (China, India, Singapore etc. etc.) even with all the hype, salaries are still a fraction of the US ($50k approx for India from what my friend got) and you could spend years repaying your loan.

:)


uhhhhhhh, oops?

OP, it's highly unlikely that you go to a top ten school in the US and end up in a call center in India. Take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're the fobby fucking geek that no one wants to work with and start from there. If you're cool...you're cool, but if you're the math genious with no social skills then brace yourself and prepare to be sent to the salt mines.

Or just make an effort to be personal and professional, and you'll be fine. ALSO: try to marry an American citizen while you're in school and that should solve about 90% of your problems. Just kidding. Sort of.

The bottom line is this: if you realistically fear being unemployed at the end of a top ten program, you might have interpersonal communication issues that need to be worked on. I sincerely doubt that a NYU/Columbia MBA grad will have a hard time breaking $50K in the US upon graduation...if you don't, then YOU are the problem, and you need to figure out how to rectify this. You may not get the $200K job, but if you're unemployed, then you need to get serious about life.

Get busy living
  • 1
Dec 20, 2011 - 9:53am

"I sincerely doubt that a NYU/Columbia MBA grad will have a hard time breaking $50K in the US upon graduation...if you don't, then YOU are the problem, and you need to figure out how to rectify this. You may not get the $200K job, but if you're unemployed, then you need to get serious about life."

-- did you read the original post ? my question applies to students who've not got jobs and are moving back to their home country NOT to those students who've secured employment in the US (who are paid as much as US citizens generally).

-- as far as your theory about "interpersonal skills" go, I have news for you - if company XYZ says they're not going to employ internationals (and plenty have in the recent past), it doesn't matter how eloquently you talk, whether you look "fobby" or are a math nerd, you're not getting a job, capiche ? I don't work for a wall street firm, I'm guessing a majority of the people on this forum do, the goal of this post was to figure out what the environment is for foreign students i.e. are companies still receptive to hiring them.

Dec 20, 2011 - 10:43am

OP, it's highly unlikely that you go to a top ten school in the US and end up in a call center in India. Take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're the fobby fucking geek that no one wants to work with and start from there. If you're cool...you're cool, but if you're the math genious with no social skills then brace yourself and prepare to be sent to the salt mines.

+1
hhahaha imagine working in a call center after a Harvard MBA.. i think that act alone may throw Harvard from the ivy category!

Or just make an effort to be personal and professional, and you'll be fine. ALSO: try to marry an American citizen while you're in school and that should solve about 90% of your problems. Just kidding. Sort of.

How the fuck did you know that? hahahah 99% of all int. students studying in America secretly want to marry some American girl for the green card...too bad most of them have dont any pick up skills or balls to actually do it..the other that do are fucking scumbags

The bottom line is this: if you realistically fear being unemployed at the end of a top ten program, you might have interpersonal communication issues that need to be worked on. I sincerely doubt that a NYU/Columbia MBA grad will have a hard time breaking $50K in the US upon graduation...if you don't, then YOU are the problem, and you need to figure out how to rectify this. You may not get the $200K job, but if you're unemployed, then you need to get serious about life.[/quote]

stellar advice no sarcasm whatsoever

Dec 20, 2011 - 9:56am
bortz911:
he mentioned singapore... seriously, $50k USD in singapore? singapore is NOT like bangladesh ... if anything it's more like tokyo

-- don't have exact figures for Singapore but I've heard it's around $70k-$80k, the $50k number was for Mumbai, India.

Dec 20, 2011 - 9:54am

It depends on your country (or countries you can work in) and the school you get in to.

If you are able to work in Singapore, Hong Kong, the wealthier countries in the Middle East, or are open and able to move to a developed country then the cost of a top 5 programme shouldn't be that big an issue long-term.

However, if your only options are your home country and the "average" wages are low there, then make sure you know what the salaries are for your target jobs there before you make your decision (e.g. consultant, Investment Banker, junior management roles, etc...).

Also, don't forget about scholarships. If you can get a big enough part of your education covered, then it makes sense to get a brand name MBA.

Other options. An executive MBA programme, like Columbia/LBS or INSEAD provide might be an alternative if you are working as you won't incur the opportunity costs.

Dec 20, 2011 - 10:04am

Very few MBAs 'want' to go back home and work. IMO the vast majority want to work and stay in the US. Returning home is something they would maybe think about doing 5 years down the road, at the earliest.

The numbers don't really 'work' if you finance your MBA with debt and return to India.

International students face more challenging recruiting for US jobs, as there can be language and cultural issues.

If you want to work in Singapore, why not just save the $$ and go to a school you claim is a standout in that region. Who knows if you would even be accepted at a top US b-school? You don't have good odds at gaining admission.

Dec 20, 2011 - 11:29am

Let's clear up a few things.

Not everyone wants to work in the US after graduating. There are post-MBA roles outside of the US that pay more than your average post-MBA jobs in the US (i.e. more than USD 150k - 200k p.a. after tax). There are also non-financial reasons to prefer going overseas as well (family, personal life, better lifestyle, global connectivity, etc...).

I wouldn't want to work as an entry level investment banking associate at a BB or consultant at McKinsey in the US after doing an MBA when I can make more money doing more interesting work by going back to my pre-MBA sector overseas.

Marrying an American / Green Card / becoming American. Many international students at top MBA programmes wouldn't want to become American and get taxed on their "world-wide" income for life. Remember, these students will be expected to be some of the higher earners in their home countries. Many people would never want to be American for this reason alone (there are many others).

For overseas candidates who don't currently have access to higher than US paying jobs, the original poster brings up valid concerns. Many overseas candidates take post-MBA jobs in the US to pay for their MBA costs and gain some experience prior to moving back. Many have no interest in being in the US long term.

To the OP, you may want to consider going to LBS in the UK if they place well to companies in your region. London is much more international than New York when in comes to finance, which tends to affect other business sectors as well.

Dec 20, 2011 - 12:46pm

At my MBA something like 30-40% of the class was foreign. The majority of these were Asian / Indian, with a very small sprinkling of European and South American students, although literally just a handful.

I think one person returned back to India after school, and this person was loaded beyond belief. It was much more common for Asian students to return to their home countries, especially given the fact the Asians had much poorer command of the English language (Generalizing here), which put them at a huge disadvantage for recruiting. Working in Shanghai or Tokyo or Singapore will usually give the student a nice salary.

When I was at school a lot of the banks would not talk to International students. This was post-Lehman, and things were really tricky. Lots of recruiters didn't want to deal with the 'green card' issue (or whatever paperwork is needed to host foreign workers). I do not know if this is still the case, but it is indeed a very valid issue to ask about.

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