Many who have recently lost their jobs are thinking about avoiding the rest of the recession by going back to school to get an MBA. It sounds like a great plan - you get to go to school, sit out much of the recession and take an important career step all at the same time. Unfortunately, reality is different. As someone who graduated from business school in 2001, during the roughest period of the dotcom bust, I can tell you that this is a very bad idea. Here's why:
Banking or Consulting? Not Likely - a large percentage of graduating MBAs turn to one of two careers: banking or consulting. However, these industries dramatically reduce their hiring during economic downturns. Moreover, newly hired MBAs are very likely to be laid off by these firms. I speak from experience. My offer with a well respected consulting firm was rescinded shortly after I graduated, and weeks before I was scheduled to start work. I wasn't alone. Every other MBA who had accepted an offer from the same firm, suffered the same fate, and our firm was far from unique. The good news? I kept a very substantial signing bonus which I received upon acceptance of the job offer.
By the way, this situation was not confined to banking and consulting. Friends of mine had their offers rescinded by Intel, Lucent, Conagra and many other well known and respected companies.
Only One Shot - if you are shooting for a career in banking or consulting, you should be aware that you only have one shot of getting into those industries, and that is through MBA campus recruiting. Sure, there are a lucky few who are able to get into those industries after graduation, but in general they are the exception. Since recruiting for those industries declines dramatically during recessions, you are greatly reducing your chances of getting into the career path you want.
Tougher to Get In - you are not the only one with the bright idea of sitting out the recession. There are many others who plan on taking the same route. This makes it tougher to get into the school of your choice. In addition, admissions officers are trying to construct the most competitive and impressive class out of the available applicant pool. They don't typically consider out-of-work, recession refugees to be at the top of that list. Want to improve your chances of getting in next year? Why not take a year to backpack your way across Asia or join a non-profit for a year to serve your community? Besides, you might actually enjoy this little detour.