Last month, I started taking a Saturday morning GMAT class through The Princeton Review. Since my wife works there, and as a family member, I could take a free course with them. In my long-term goals, I’ve had this plan to attend graduate school, so I could advance my career as far as I could go. The problem is I’ve hit a few roadblocks in terms of available time & energy, and the possibilities that I may never get an MBA. Let me ‘splain.

I recently dropped out of the GMAT course. I’m not crazy, since I’m not losing money on the course. Attending the courses are not impossible, but trying to fit in all the lesson pre-work, homework, and diagnostic (practice) tests) during the week was difficult at best. Take the practice exams — four hours at a time. When do I get four hours of uninterrupted time to work after coming home from the office, dinner, bathes for the kids, and time to sit for a minute? There were nights that I fell asleep on the couch by 10pm.

Apart from the time and energy conundrum, there are questions on whether I would get into a good school, and how much an MBA would be worth to me. I’ve read these MBA tidbits in many places, but this CBS article “Why an MBA Is a Waste of Time and Money” covers many of them in one list. Point #3 “MBAs who are not from a top 10 school don’t increase their earning power.”

So if you’re not one of the elite, the degree won’t help you earn more. According to the recruiting firm Challenger & Gray, the degree simply does not separate you from other people in any significant way; it’s too easy to get an MBA from a second-tier school. The cost of the degree is so much more than the combined cost of taking two years off of work and paying for the degree that you are better off taking a job you don’t particularly like and getting a night-school MBA after work hours.

Let’s say hypothetically that even if I get a decent-to-good score on the GMAT, but I don’t get into a top-tier school. What do I do? If I don’t get into an NYU, for example, is there a value? I know a handful of people (not to be named) who have graduate degrees, but I never saw them doing anything different than I was doing. I have highly successful relatives who never when the graduate school route, and they’re doing phenomenal. Do I need an MBA?

Am I too old for graduate school? I’m 34 years old. Should I try to get an Executive MBA? In the aforementioned CBS article, point #4 “It’s pointless after a certain age.” Here, the author states

Don’t go if you are older than 28. You are too far along in your career to leverage the degree enough to increase your earning power enough to make up for the sticker cost of the degree.

For now, I’ve taken a break to think about what’s best for me career-wise in the long term. In the meantime, what would be good for me are additional certifications. I’m working to get grandfathered into getting ISACA’s new CRISC certification by the end of this month. I also intend to start back up on my CISSP certification. I’d like to have both under my belt. I may not know what I’m going to do in the long-term, but as always, I’ll figure it out.