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Observations after returning to school at age 42

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Observations after returning to school at age 42

Old 06-04-16, 02:57 PM
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Observations after returning to school at age 42

My company agreed to pay for an MBA three years ago. The program I attended costs about $140K, so this is a big deal. I finished all of the coursework last night after 2.5 years of school. Commencement is in two weeks.

I went to a prestigious business school here in Chicago part time. I attended classes at night, usually two 3 hour sessions a week. It was essentially a second job for me while I was there. Overall it was one of the best experiences of my life, I really loved it.

My reactions:

1. Business school is really useful. Don't let anyone tell you business school somehow makes you a management speak - spouting, know-nothing automaton. Some of the classes I took were truly revelatory moments in my life. All contained at least 10 very useful and true pieces of information.
2. Elite business schools are tough. This program was no joke, let me tell you. I graduated with a 3.8 but it was a stressful pain in the ass many weeks. I'd say about 8 of the 21 classes I took were extremely difficult, the rest were hardly cake walks. None of the classes were a waste of time.
3. Business schools teach you a lot about values these days. Learning how to make money, work with people and complete meaningful analyses are all important in business school but learning how to avoid being an asshole is equally emphasized.
4. Most of the students in this program were impressive people who were great to get to know. I will say that some of the 28 year old Google / Goldman / Bain employees who get into an elite business school can be really, really annoying. Smart but really annoying. I'll leave it at that.
5. Attending school at age 42 when you're a father of a high schooler is a strange and humbling experience. I had to re-learn how to write papers and study for exams, it felt weird holding my hand up to speak in class, it was bizarre being significantly older than some of the profs sometimes etc.
6. Choosing the right schedule at the right time is an art in itself. Hitting the right combination of material, difficulty and applicability to your major is really tricky.
7. The GMAT is a stressful piece of shit experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
Old 06-04-16, 03:05 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congratulations man. That sounds like a bit of work and good on you for sticking it out.

Wow, what timing. I just turned 42 and I've been thinking about finishing because I never even finished my bachelors (business administration).

Nearly 18 years ago I started with a company as a temp and it really clicked for me and now I'm a manager of operations of a large chunk of the country. I've thought about going back but my wife finished hers a few years ago and we're still paying off her loans and my boss has said it's really not necessary.

Should I just do Khan Academy to expand my mind a bit?
Old 06-04-16, 03:20 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congratulations Hiro. I hate people who say that MBA programs teach you only common sense theories that you can also learn from the "School of Hard Knocks."
Old 06-04-16, 03:23 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congrats on the MBA. The GMAT is currently tougher than the LSAT. An MBA from an elite school is worth the expense and work, it should help your salary a great deal going forward.

Many of the Goldman / Bain employees I've met are little more than professional sociopaths. Because of the possible career paths, that type of personality is drawn to the MBA more often than law or medical school.
Old 06-04-16, 03:36 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

This thread would get so many more replies if it were full of observations on the sexual habits of millennial coeds.
Old 06-04-16, 03:44 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congratulations, Hiro! What did you specialize in?

There are plenty of free business classes on websites such as coursera.org and edx.org if others are interested.

Last edited by EinCB; 06-04-16 at 03:56 PM.
Old 06-04-16, 03:53 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Very good to know... I am most impressed with #3 above. But, it seems to conflict with #4... Does business school now try to impart a sense of "values" in those Google sociopaths, or is it mostly about using psychology on people (or, maybe reverse psychology) to make friends and influence them? I'm Genuinely interested in your opinions, insights, and impressions.
Old 06-04-16, 07:50 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

You guys rock! Thanks for the congratulations, it's much appreciated!

Responding to zyzzle above, I'll provide an example from a negotiations class I took.

Two related concepts. First "naive realism". This is the natural tendency to believe that your viewpoint is the only logical viewpoint any "smart person" could possibly have. You believe that the other side of your negotiation would agree with you if you could just accurately convey your viewpoint because your viewpoint is the only one that makes any sense. The problem is that other people have exactly the same beliefs about their own viewpoints: if only they could convince you, you'd see the light. This is one reason why so many negotiations go off the rails: too many people simply plow ahead trying to convince the other side. A better tactic: perspective taking. Try to understand the context the other side lives in. Try to understand why they believe what they believe. This makes it much easier to find common ground and conduct a successful negotiation that creates value for both sides, especially if both sides are practicing perspective taking.

Secondly: "fundamental attribution error". This is the idea that people perceive the behaviors they see in others to be indicative of the other person's personality rather than the context the person is currently in. Because of the fundamental attribution error, people often make assumptions in a negotiation that are completely incorrect. To avoid the fundamental attribution error, it's critical to ask "why" the person is rejecting the offer rather than assuming that you understand. More information and more communication is always better than assuming you understand the other side based on what you see.

These are both common social psychology concepts but they're hugely valuable in a business context. You begin to see negotiation as a partnership to achieve a mutually beneficial goal rather than competitors squabbling over a tiny pile of resources. Note that these concepts also encourage you to be a better person and try to understand other people better. More broadly, understanding these concepts are important in dealing with people in life let alone just in a business context.

My business school experience was rife with useful models and concepts like those above. Combined with rigorous quantitative analysis to determine actual facts, you start to see that competence, honesty, transparency, compassion and trustworthiness are more important than most anything else in business. That sounds pretty good to me.

Last edited by Hiro11; 06-04-16 at 08:03 PM.
Old 06-04-16, 07:55 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by milo bloom View Post
Should I just do Khan Academy to expand my mind a bit?
I like Khan Academy a lot, I did a couple of their courses. Another option is MIT's Sloan school which offers a ton of graduate-level business stuff for free:

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/sloan-school-of-management/

Maybe take a look at a couple of MIT's courses and see how it goes.
Old 06-04-16, 08:05 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

What's the highest level of math needed for the classes you took?
Old 06-04-16, 08:09 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by bluetoast View Post
What's the highest level of math needed for the classes you took?
Maybe freshman in college / AP stuff. I needed to know differential calculus for a few of the economics and game theory classes I took. I took a class on regression (which was completely fascinating, BTW) that I needed to have taken college-level stats to understand.

I didn't major in finance, I'll bet the math starts getting fairly deep if you start taking 900-level finance classes like derivatives or quantitative risk management.
Old 06-04-16, 08:22 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Hiro11,

My sincerest congratulations. That is one hell of an achievement. You are spot on about about the MBA degree. Again, congratulations!

You can certainly educate me as well as many others about naive realism.
Old 06-05-16, 05:35 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Well, sounds like you will make a fine businessman... I loved taking psych, and I have heard of "fundamental attribution error," but do not recall "naive realism" per se, but certainly understand (and many times, am guily of it!).

There seems to be a very great argument for "returning to school' in your 30s / 40s. Without fail, these older, more mature students seem to really care about it, aren't just going to school for the motions, and actually get something constructive and important out the the endeavor.

Kids in their late teens / early 20s (and yes, these days they're still "kids") simply have too many distractions to make the "higher education" experience all that it can be.
Old 06-05-16, 05:57 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congrats. I did a master's program for work and it was a pita but nothing as in depth as yours.
Old 06-05-16, 08:41 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

I am going through school at 52 to get a Bachelors. Part time, but classes every semester (including summer)...I am about 1/3 of the way done.
Old 06-05-16, 08:43 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congratulations! That's awesome.
Old 06-06-16, 09:54 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by Chrisedge View Post
I am going through school at 52 to get a Bachelors. Part time, but classes every semester (including summer)...I am about 1/3 of the way done.
Huge respect!
Old 06-06-16, 11:21 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Well done!

And you didn't even mention the Black–Scholes model once, which makes you one of those smart-but-not-annoying people.
Old 06-07-16, 12:58 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congratulations Hiro and Chrisedge! I have become a huge advocate of adult learning. It has so much more meaning and value when you have "life perspective".

I went back to finish my Bachelor's in my mid 30s. The program was designed to be one night per week along with one online class for two years. I did one online class and was so disgusted by it I refused to do any more. I looked at the schedules for the cohorts ahead of and behind mine to find a way to avoid online classes. Then I had to go to the Dean to fight with the school to allow me to take classes according to my plan. I even shaved a few months off by going 2-3 nights per week most of the time.

After I finished, I ended up continuing on to the Master's program (Management and Organizational Behavior). It was every other weekend (all day Saturday and Sunday) for a little over 18 months. While I felt the school was a bit of a diploma mill (at least a quarter of my class had no business being there, let alone graduating) I really found the program to be beneficial and worthwhile. Most of the professors were fantastic and all of them worked in the field. Often they were the authors of the texts we were using.

While I haven't changed careers (or even jobs) since earning my degrees, I still use the stuff I learned every day at work and in personal life. I'd like to get into true Organizational Development work (I'd love to get into consulting), but my current job is too good to force me out. I'm always trying to listen for opportunities though (hint, hint).

Good luck to all Otters who are continuing (or considering continuing) their education in some form!
Old 06-07-16, 01:02 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by The Bus View Post
Well done!

And you didn't even mention the Black–Scholes model once, which makes you one of those smart-but-not-annoying people.
If you don't like the Black-Scholes model, try the Black-Scholes "Un" model. It washes the rain away.
Old 06-07-16, 10:19 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
If you don't like the Black-Scholes model, try the Black-Scholes "Un" model. It washes the rain away.
Black-Scholes matter.
Old 06-07-16, 10:45 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Congrats.

It's tough enough just getting accepted to either of those two B-schools. I've had a few friends and relatives rejected. Thankfully, none of my employers ever offered tuition reimbursement, so I was never tempted to try myself.
Old 06-07-16, 10:49 AM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
3. Business schools teach you a lot about values these days. Learning how to make money, work with people and complete meaningful analyses are all important in business school but learning how to avoid being an asshole is equally emphasized.
This must be a new thing.

I know a few people who went to prestigious business schools about 10 to 20 years ago (couple went on to work for Goldman/Sachs), and they all stressed how competitive the programs were, pitting the students against each other, basically instigating and bringing forth and utilizing any asshole tendencies they might have in order to succeed.
Old 06-07-16, 12:26 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

Originally Posted by slop101 View Post
This must be a new thing.

I know a few people who went to prestigious business schools about 10 to 20 years ago (couple went on to work for Goldman/Sachs), and they all stressed how competitive the programs were, pitting the students against each other, basically instigating and bringing forth and utilizing any asshole tendencies they might have in order to succeed.
I'm not necessarily talking about competitiveness or ambition. I don't see either as being an asshole and I had no problem with classmates trying to "get ahead". I'm more talking about honesty, trustworthiness and competence. Classes repeated emphasized that "doing the right thing" was always the better choice both from a morality perspective and from a making money perspective. Business schools may have the reputation of breeding clever swindlers, I found the opposite to be true.

For what it's worth I also didn't see "students pitted against one another". Stipulated: I was prevented from participating in on campus recruiting (due to my employer sponsoring the degree). Also, I have 18 years experience in my field and I'm not particularly looking to change careers. I'm sure other students who are trying to get a new job had a different perspective about the other students around them: these are smart, ambitious kids competing for lucrative jobs after all. I was outside of all of that.
Old 06-07-16, 12:33 PM
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Re: Observations after returning to school at age 42

A lot of people assume I am doing it for financial reasons (better job, more pay, etc...) but it's not that at all. I feel like I should have gotten the Bachelors when I was out of HS, but no one I knew (other than my dad) went / graduated from college. My biggest regret is not doing it. So...in December of 2013..I made myself a promise...



I stare at that card everyday when I am hating class or worried about a grade...

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