Jan 30, 2020

Making Your Decision to Enroll

By Luke Anthony Peña

Luke Anthony Peña


Happy 2020, friends! Winter is here in Hanover, which means my colleagues and I are in the heart of the admissions season. We’re hard at work getting to know those of you who applied in Round 2, both by reading your applications and by welcoming you to campus for your interviews. We’re also supporting our students who are planning Admitted Students Weekend in April, and already looking ahead to recruiting season several months away.

We’re also spending a lot of good time and effort working with those of you admitted in Round 1 and considering your enrollment options. Some of you have already decided to join us at Tuck (hooray!) while others of you are still making a decision. No matter where you are in this process -- admitted and deciding now, awaiting a Round 2 decision, or preparing to apply in Round 3 or next year -- you may soon have a decision in front of you between several good options. I remember what this is like; I wrestled enormously with my decision to enroll in my MBA program, and I waited until the very last possible day to make my decision. While each of you will decide in your own way, I’d like to share some perspective on making this important decision.

First, if you’ve been admitted to multiple degree programs, or are deciding between your MBA and a great career opportunity, congratulations! I hope you will take time to appreciate your incredible accomplishment. The opportunities in front of you are the culmination of your own research, reflection, preparation, and determination, as well as trust, faith, and patience in our evaluation process. As I often tell Tuck students, current and future, it’s your job to be excellent, and it’s our job merely to recognize it. You worked hard for this achievement, and you’ve earned the right to celebrate it.

Now that your decision is in front of you, some of you are now debating if the MBA is a worthwhile investment after all. I am a proud MBA alum and an evangelist for the degree, but I am the first to admit that not everyone needs an MBA, which is just one of many paths to a successful future. If you’re questioning whether the MBA is the right path right now, I ask you two questions. First, are you ready to step away from your day-to-day and fully immerse in an environment where you acknowledge what you do and do not know, empathize with the diverse experiences of others, and learn when and how to take the right risks? Second, can you replicate the benefits of extraordinary classmatesengaged facultycareer services supportglobal experiences, a powerful alumni network, a rigorous curriculum, and co-curricular learning, all on your own, without enrolling in an MBA? If you’re ready to immerse, and you recognize that the benefits of an MBA experience are unique and distinct, then I encourage you to seize this opportunity.

Still others of you recognize the immense benefits of pursuing your MBA, but you’re wrestling with the finances of your decision. I fully acknowledge that finances are an important consideration -- they certainly were for me when I pursued my MBA -- and the price tag of an MBA can appear intimidating. I know from experience that sometimes, in the midst of a decision of this magnitude with this upfront expense, it’s possible to become narrowly focused only on the short-term costs. These costs are not irrelevant. But I hope you'll remind yourself that the costs, large as they may seem now, are temporary. Even for those of you who finance your MBA through loans, you will be paying the MBA for a mere fraction of your future. On the other hand, the benefits of the right MBA experience and community – which you only get once – will not only endure for your entire life, they will grow stronger as you advance in your career. Think of the MBA as an investment, both in yourself and in the community that best enables you to contribute and thrive.

Finally, some of you are ready to make this investment, and yet you truly believe two (or more) programs will be equally rewarding and beneficial to your future. While it’s wonderful to be enthusiastic about multiple options, it’s also a difficult decision to choose between two options that seem equally great. As you weigh all of your decision criteria -- and yes, I’ve heard about the models some of you build to quantify your decision! -- I urge you to prioritize one factor above all others: the people. The relationships you forge with your classmates, the alumni network, the faculty, and the staff comprise the asset that will appreciate most over the rest of your life. Choosing to surround yourself with people who support and challenge you ensures you have a lifelong network and community that will benefit you no matter where life takes you. Writing as an MBA alum, I assure you that you will value this more with every passing year.

If you remain undecided, I offer one tactic and one quote. The tactic: A mentor of mine once advised me, when struggling to make a big decision, to live one full day as if I have chosen Choice A. Tell myself Choice A was final, and check in with myself throughout the day to see how I thought and felt. Then, on the next day, live the full day as if I had chosen Choice B. Check in with myself, see how the other decision makes me think and feel. I’ve found, without fail, that I learn much about what my head and my heart want me to do. And the quote, courtesy of the late Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

Please let memy colleagues, and the Tuck community know how we can support you with the big decision in front of you. All of us at Tuck are happy to be accessible, responsive and helpful to you!