Getting an MBA is difficult—this was the advice I heard from a lot of people when I told them I was thinking of pursuing my MBA. I have come to believe what they actually meant is: ‘Getting an MBA is difficult from day 1’.
Almost a full year and a program change later—my Hult academic journey will begin in January 2021. I hope that through my story, other students like me, can walk into their own journey with eyes wide open and confident they will find the perfect solution to their academic dreams—just like I did.
The idea vs. the reality
Going into the application process I knew I would come up against financial and logistical challenges. I’m the sole provider for my younger brother, who’s still in high school and lives on the other side of the globe from me. Also, on the opposite side of the world is my support system, which consists of a small group of friends I grew up with. The most they could give me was a word of encouragement and piece of advice here and there. Finally, I was applying from China, where I still live and work, which at the time was in a state of complete lockdown. But I knew from the first phone call with a lady who would become my Hult enrollment advisor, that even the amidst the chaos and uncertainty of 2020, I was ready for the next step and I wanted that to be with Hult.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of 2020, I was ready for the next step and I wanted that to be with Hult.
Only the beginning
Once I was accepted and had paid the confirmation deposit; my enrollment advisor immediately gave me all the information I needed to apply for Hult’s scholarships and financial aid. I was awarded the maximum amount of student aid Hult can give, as well as two additional scholarships. Although it was super helpful, I was still falling short of where I needed to be financially by June 2020.
My enrollment advisor also gave me the name of a Hult alum, who was also South African and had gone to great lengths to get funding in order to attend Hult. I reached out to her over LinkedIn and set up a phone call to ask her how she did it. She was an incredible woman!
Falling between the gaps
Halfway through our call, I realized there were a few fundamental differences in our circumstances. Even though I was incredibly grateful for her kindness, her path was one I couldn’t follow. Firstly, she was quite a few years my senior when she applied to Hult, so she was also more financially established and professionally connected than I was. Secondly, she had property to mortgage and a company that was willing to fund part of the tuition equivalent to that of a South African masters degree.
So, I reached out to people I knew from university who had studied abroad and asked them about how they had funded themselves. Everyone I reached out to was generous and kind, offering me pages of information and wishing me luck.
But with each opportunity I discovered, I found myself falling between the gaps of the existing structures.
June 1 was quickly approaching and I had to start making decisions on a costly visa application. I knew I wasn’t going to make it to London in 2020, so I emailed my enrollment advisor and gave her an honest account of where I stood and inquired about the process of deferring my academic year. This would not only give me time to save money, but also time for the world to open up again. Then opportunity came knocking.
The power of chaos
2020 was a year of limited movement, financial instability, and uncertainty. It was also a massive migration from offline to online existences for a large percentage of the global population. Working as an ESL teacher, I witnessed firsthand how young learners have the capacity to adapt, learn, and grow in environments outside of traditional classrooms.
2020 made space for online and long distance learning and I noticed thousands of institutions placing increased significance on their online programs, encouraging and incentivizing people to apply for them. Not only were they becoming increasingly valued more, but the way they were conducted was met with increased creativity and innovation, the type that arises when a system is thrown into chaos. And with this new focus in the learning systems of the future, came opportunity. My enrollment advisor proposed Hult’s EMBA program.
The final negotiation
Hult’s EMBA program offered the same courses I would have done in the one-year MBA. In many ways it was the best program for my current life, but to say this was the end would be a lie. My enrollment advisor and I, called and emailed back and forth until we found a payment plan, campus schedule, and start date that worked for Hult and I. Almost a year after my initial application, in early-September I decided that my academic journey would start in January 2021.
The truth is, applying for an MBA is difficult from day 1; there are a million gaps and blind spots in the systems and to complexities within our own lives. There is no way you can prepare for everything, but you can be very honest with yourself and with those you meet along your journey about your specific experience. Negotiate for yourself until the end, ask questions about what can be done for you, the worst you will get is a no. Finally, there is no chaos without opportunity. Open your eyes so you can recognize an opportunity when it comes along and its potential to put you in the right place, at right time. This is what could make the difference between a wasted year and that ‘yes’ you’ve been waiting for.
There is no chaos without opportunity.