This one is for our BAUCE women in their last year of college. Do you know where you’ll be in two to five years from now? Where will you live? What will you be learning? Who will be in your company during this next stage of life? For many people, these questions present hypotheticals to which we cannot predict the answers. This is not the case for everyone. Seniors in college can apply to business school programs with matriculation dates two-to-four years after they graduate. For BAUCE readers considering this option, there are a few key realities to consider. These deferred enrollment programs, also known as “2+2”, allow optionality. Therefore, they have their advantages and their drawbacks.
Entering the Workforce with an Acceptance can Bring a Sense of Stability
One of Aesop’s Fables, The Ant & the Grasshopper, shares the merits of early preparation. In the story, the grasshopper spends his summer gathering food and supplies ahead of a long winter. Meanwhile, the ants in his community relax in the warm weather. The grasshopper then gets to spend his winter resting and enjoying the fruits of his labor while the ants scramble. This fable may not serve as a perfect analogy to business school applications, but it does describe how one can feel at ease when their hard work pays off. While many young professionals may ponder how the first few years of their careers will unfold, people with acceptances to deferred enrollment programs can take comfort in having some certainty. These individuals can continue to forge ahead in their chosen field, or they can navigate their jobs with the knowledge that their role is temporary.
These Programs Require Early Preparation
Candidates to 2+2 programs need to begin considering the process early. After three years of studying, working, and grinding away, it may be tempting to go on autopilot during the final year of your undergraduate program. But the deferred graduation school application process requires planning ahead of time. In general, applicants need to send in their materials, test scores, and essays for an April deadline. Overall, the process demands ample time, energy, and resources. This can be antithetical to a relaxing senior year. Students vying for a space in these deferred programs may need to begin laying the groundwork months or years in advance so that they can present themselves to the admissions counselors in the best possible way. Mia, a management consultant, began considering deferred business school programs in her sophomore year of college. Establishing relationships with faculty and preparing for the standardized tests early on paid dividends for Mia as she was accepted to business school in her senior year.
There is a Financial Consequence if you Don’t Enroll
Upon acceptance, deferred MBA candidates are often required to pay a deposit. On the lower end of the spectrum, universities like Wharton, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northwestern may ask admitted students to pay between $500 and $1,000. Some schools require more money in order to secure a spot. Stanford University and the University of Virginia require between $2,000 and $6,000 for incoming business school students. These amounts are non-refundable. Therefore, if an applicant changes their mind about matriculating to business school, then they could potentially lose thousands of dollars.
Your Attitude Toward Graduate School Could Shift Over Time
It’s no secret that your early twenties often represent a time of change. Applicants to 2+2 programs need to make a major decision when they are still in college. The concept of a graduate degree may sound appealing at that point. However, after a few years of working, you could change your mind. This was the case with Ashley*, who pursued the deferred enrollment route in her senior year of college. At the time, the promise of new skills, a broader network, and an additional credential were all exciting. Ashley’s program allows applicants to defer enrollment for up to four years. The clock is ticking, and Ashley has started to change her tune because her current industry does not value MBAs. Leaving for graduate school could interrupt the progress she has made at her company, and the $150,000 cost is a deterrent as well.
2+2 Acceptance can Reduce the Fear of Failure
According to a 2016 article from Stanford University, having a sense of certainty is massively influential on an individual’s behavior. Certainty, which often breeds confidence, brings more meaning to an individual’s actions. Knowing the next step provides a sense of empowerment. This was the case for Claire, a venture capital investor who spent the beginning of her career in management consulting. Describing her admission to graduate school, Claire shares, “Personally…it has allowed me to approach my career and approach graduation in a way I never expected… I feel really lucky about that because it allowed me to kind of try things… because I wasn’t worried about what came next.”
These deferred enrollment programs can be massively beneficial to BAUCE women. Equipped with that acceptance, you can be bold and experimental in your career. At the same time, these programs can be limiting. Not every school offers a deferred enrollment program and changing your mind can ultimately cost thousands of dollars. Before taking this next step in your professional journey, be sure to consider the pros and the cons of these programs.
*Name changed to maintain anonymity.