We always hear about the countless incentives to pursuing graduate education—richer job offers, robust networks, and of course, reveling in your own self-glory (because we all need those “YASS, I did that!” moments). And how could we forget? More cheddar for cheesing. The notion of “more cheddar” has long ago been reaffirmed by Lil Kim. Back in the day she uttered “Money, Power, and Respect help you sleep at night, you’ll see the light, it’s the key to life.” Most importantly, she alluded to the casual order of that list. Money is a prerequisite to power, and power ultimately leading to respect. Although her amalgamation of words is pretty problematic, it’s not completely without merit. How are we to acquire respect if we don’t have money because a disrespectful loan payment slaps you every month?
Yes, pedigree is prestigious and fleeky, but who finna pay for that?? “You need to understand college is an investment!” Those words were uttered in every household across the globe by our parental figures. I always wanted to say “I’m too broke to understand so why don’t you invest?” But we always had their financial support. Even if we had the fullest financial package from our undergraduate institution, our parents were still there supplementing work-study income with extra petty cash every now and again.
For most of you however, that gravy train left a long time ago, probably when your bachelor degree was conferred. Before applying to graduate school, we need to realize, contextualize, and pray on the fact that we have to foot the bill. Reflect on what that means for your life. That’s $80 whole thousand dollars. You won’t feel the sting now, but post-degree completion, when those $2000/month loan payments come through, you will. And what if you’re not aspiring to go into finance or consulting?! These industries’ compensation packages average the highest in any MBA graduating class. For entrepreneurs and those who have nonprofit aspirations, you may have to adjust industry preferences so you can afford the degree. And if you have to work in an undesirable profession for X amount of years, is it worth pursuing said degree? Because a MBA isn’t so cute if you can’t pay your light bill. So let’s see how we can pay for the “key to life.”
Maybe you’re one of the fortunate people who have the luxury of corporate sponsorship, meaning your company has agreed to invest in your education and pay for your degree. We know that doesn’t come at a small price for you either. They definitely want a minimum of a three-year commitment post MBA and although it seems small, you are sacrificing a lot. For one, while your peers are exploring career options, you remain stagnant because you’re committed to not only return to your previous industry, but your former employer. Second, the price sticker of your MBA is cheap for the company relative to your opportunity cost of other, forgone career options.
You can also end up in a similar scenario with a new industry/employer in what I like to call the “slave contract”. So, companies, mostly financial institutions, offer “diversity scholarships” that comes with $25K internship, $15K-$40K for first-year tuition, and probably a higher allocation for second-year tuition incumbent upon you successfully receiving the offer and agreeing to return to that firm post MBA. They may slip you an extra $5-$10K for signing egregiously early like September 14th of your second academic year. What’s interesting with these deals is that you can secure this before you step foot into one MBA classroom as recruiting starts late March of the year in which you apply (a few weeks after Round 2 decisions are released) for the diversity financial institution opportunities. Now, preying on top-minority talent with all this cash is a provocative tactic, to say the least, but I have to give them credit for a well-planned and well-executed strategy. Not only does it convey the organizations’ “commitment to diversity,” but it also helps the organization acquire the best of the best of matriculating MBAs in addition to dissuading people against other industries. If you are interested, Toigo (research it) is a great platform to start initiating those touch points, but we a ways off from that, so back to financing that degree.
You can win the lottery because the likelihood of that is extremely high…..
And my favorite, getting the school to pay for it themselves. To me, that’s always the most desirable result. We the holy grail, remember? (If you forgot, read “Magna Carta…Holy Grail). They should pay for us. Some schools have committed to making financial investments in our education vis-a-vis The Consortium.
So I’m going to do the impossible and attempt to explain on a web platform how the Consortium works with a good example using a prospective student. Let’s say her name is Moesha (and as always, I’m not profiling, but in my head it’s an appropriate name for a girl who happens to be the vocal bible). Let’s say Moesha is a Black girl from Baltimore, Maryland, went to Dartmouth for undergrad, majored in Political Science, wrote for The Economist for four years subsequent to her Bachelors, worked in Public Affairs at Viacom and now is applying to b-school to transition into brand management in consumer-packaged goods (CPG). She’s interested in applying to three schools via the Consortium: NYU (Stern), UC Berkeley (Haas), and UVA (Darden).
- She submits a Round 1 application to those three schools via the Consortium. So answering the Consortium questions in addition to mandated essays from the other schools’ application. She ranks Haas 1st, Stern 2nd, and Darden 3rd.
- The Consortium, without assessing the application (app), distributes Moesha’s app to the respective schools.
- Each school independently evaluates her candidacy (without knowing where Moesha ranked them) and makes admission decisions.
- The three schools admitted Moesha (although she is not notified yet) and notify the Consortium.
- They assess her Consortium supplemental app materials to determine if she embodies the mission. Since she directs the choir at her local church and has taught them her exemplary technique for executing flawless vocal runs’, the Consortium decided to admit her (not simply because she’s Black, but she’s been enriching her community).
- The school notifies her of her admit decision and her admission to the Consortium.
- Since its Round 1, she isn’t notified of her scholarship status until the completion of Round 2.
- The schools meet up in March (when Round 2 notifications are completed), are notified of their respective ranking, and decide who they are giving scholarships to. Remember, Moesha can only be offered one Consortium scholarship.
- Since Haas is willing to offer her a scholarship because they want her to matriculate, and she ranked them first, Haas has first dibs on offering her the scholarship, and they do. Stern and Darden can’t offer Consortium scholarships.
- Stern is sneaky on the low though, so while they can’t offer Moesha one of her Consortium scholarships, they offer her a named non-Consortium full scholarship.
- Moesha, after visiting Stern, decides it’s a better fit and goes to Stern as a Consortium member, (not fellow=no real difference between member and fellow besides a fellow receiving a Consortium scholarship and a member having not received one).
Non-Consortium schools can offer scholarships as well. Out of the non-Consortium schools you all may be considering, think of generosity as inversely proportional to rank, so the higher the rank, the less philanthropic they may be. There’s always anomalies. I’ve know Northwestern (Kellogg) to be more generous than others.
But everyone, think critically about how you’ll get the “money” to ultimately finance your “respect”. I don’t believe in allowing finances to be a barrier to graduate endeavors because they are investments, but everyone’s financial perspectives and outlooks are different. I certainly don’t want to advocate for pursuing more lucrative industries post-MBA at the expense of your dream career, but it’s the real, and you may have to do so. Also, think about long-term life planning as well. Can you have your mortgage at 32 if that disrespectful loan payment is slapping you every month? Think about this now. And strategize on ways to get your education paid for. Let this be more inspiration to assemble an even more flawless application. More than an admit decision is at stake!
IF YOU REALLY BOUT THAT LIFE, take control of your destiny today. Don’t let any industry/school dictate where you go with money. The choice is yours. When you are truly pleased with what they’re offering, which is often different than what they posit as “the max they can offer”, seize the opportunity. To my black women, remember you are the film on top of the creme of that crop. If you work hard and invest in the right resources (Forte (research it), your application), you already have the “key to life”. Please read on if you are considering applying to the Consortium for some common anecdotes you hear about the process.
Some Consortium Speculations/Miscommunication
- If you don’t get the Consortium scholarship, you’re not in the Consortium. No you don’t have to be rewarded a scholarship to be in the Consortium. The Consortium decides who gets to be in the Consortium, but the schools ultimately decide who they give funding to. So the options are:
- Get accepted to the school, and get a Consortium fellowship.
- Get accepted to the school, get admitted to the Consortium, and not receive a Consortium fellowship.
- Get accepted to the School, get admitted to the Consortium, and get a non-Consortium fellowship.
- Get accepted to the School, and not admitted to the Consortium.
- And of course, rejection.
- The schools get to see where you rank them, and consequentially, that affects your admission decision. This is a big speculation, and honestly, I don’t know. According to the Consortium, schools don’t see rankings until it’s time to have a scholarship conversation. I’ve known people to apply to five Consortium schools, and receive admission to all, so I would imagine schools don’t see the rank.
- There’s no benefit to membership besides the money. Not true. You get to go to OP, which is a conference in early June that allows you professional development opportunities, networking with prospective employers and other top B-school students, in addition to internship opportunities.