Opportunity Costs

option from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 Bill Ohl, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

  The Full-time MBA Class of 2016 at UW is a little over two months into the MBA program and we have finals next week. It’s been a good run so far, but the fear of missing out is going to ramp up again next quarter.

  When you choose to go back to school, you sacrifice your time and the wages you’d be earning from another job. This is an explicit opportunity cost that my classmates have calculated to some degree. There’s also the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO), which we get from social media news feeds.  

  But as a MBA student, there is one more source of FOMO: the never-ending parade of optional activities and opportunities that present themselves to you.  There are meet-the-firms, independent study (consulting) projects, speaker series, case competitions, and networking events competing for your attention. If you’re in a student club (or two, or three, or eight), then you have club activities to attend or organize. You have the various centers (consulting, entrepreneurship, global business, etc) that host a ton of events and need your help. You have opportunities with career management to improve your public speaking skills, review your resume, practice your interviewing, etc. And this is all just for the business school. UW has a ton of events happening all over campus that could be interesting to you. Outside of the University, there are a ton of events happening in Seattle, too. Oh, and there’s the job hunt to worry about, too!

  At some point, you’ll have to prioritize your time around the activities that mean the most to you. You can try to overload your schedule, haphazardly going to each and every event that you might be interested in, so that you can find that one thing that will get you that dream job you’ve been hoping for. Do you feel pressure to go to as many events as you can, to maximize the effect of your shotgun approach? 

  This can certainly work, but remember why you decided to go back to school, and what you want to get out of it. Is it a network? Is it an education? Is it a job? Just make sure you’re not attending events or agreeing to meetings that don’t add enough value to you. You need to learn how to say no. Remember that there’s an opportunity cost to going back to school, and there’s an opportunity cost to pursue one opportunity over another. You’re going to have to consciously make tradeoffs. 

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