CFA + masters. General school advice


I just got admitted to EAE Business School (Spain) for an MBA starting on October 2019. It’s an ¨executive¨ MBA which means I just have classes on friday and saturday, thus I have the rest of the week to prepare for the CFA level 3 (assuming I pass L2 this year).

Also, my school transcripts are not that good. An 80.0 average on both of my degrees (Finance and Global Management, both from Nicaragua).

My questions are the following:

Will having the CFA designation or at least L2 or L3 passed will give me a bump into qualifying for a scholarship?

What do schools look for in a candidate for a scholarship?

What masters should I pursue? I’m 24 years old, hoping to finish L3 by 2020 (late 25s almost 26). Private Equity is my dream and I want to be as competitive as possible. I’ve heard CFA+MBA looks cool, plus I love entrepreneurship.

What do you guys think of EAE?

Should I wait until I finish the CFA to enroll in an MBA?

I want to go into the London Business School to be honest, but I think that i need to pass L3 in order to stay competitive in their admissions programs and scholarships.

Any advices/thoughts?

thank you!

EDIT: About job experiences I pretty much have none in the industry I want (finance). Nicaragua is poor on jobs and extremely limited. Therefore, I have my own online services business on data entry and analysis, and translations. As you can see, it really isn’t finance. Aside form that business that I currently own, I’ve dedicated the last couple of years in other entrepreneurial projects so thus I haven’t really worked for somebody aside from PWC for 5 months.

Not an MBA grad here, but I’ve asked this question before. The advice I received was that it of course helps, as MBA programs are in the business of sending graduates off to the best careers/positions possible. Earning the CFA signals that you’re one of the people who will get a job that will make the program look good to the next wave of prospective students. In your essays, craft a story about how the CFA will help you pursue that career in banking/PE (which is where most graduates end up), rather than saying you want to go into tech where you’d have worse odds of landing a job.

You can recommend a good online school for students from the USA and Chile. It can be a resource for individual instruction.

I’m a CFA charterholder who has an MBA from a second-tier school in the U.S. As one who also spent a half-decade in academe, I can tell you that I’ve never heard of EAE. That doesn’t make it a bad school, but it does suggest that it’s definitely NOT top-tier.

I also think you’re too-too young to pursue an MBA. You should have at least three years of full-time business experience–and preferably five years (or more)–before you enroll in any MBA program. Besides, the ‘better MBA programs’ seldom accept people without any real-world experience because so much class time in MBA programs consists of students exchanging views about their professional experience. If you don’t have that experience, I think you’re going to feel overwhelmed and excluded because you will have nothing of value to contribute to those experience-based classroom conversations.

Executive MBA programs are cash cows for business schools. I’ve never heard of anyone getting kicked out or flunking out, and I think it’s because the programs are so expensive that the schools don’t want to forgo any of that high-dollar revenue if they don’t have to.

A question: Why do you want an MBA? If you can’t get into a top-tier school, then I don’t think it’s worth getting because non-top-tier MBA programs are, literally, a dime a dozen. Besides, the CFA curriculum is much, much more challenging than any MBA curriculum. (I’ve done both.)

I cannot imagine that having ‘CFA’ after your name will help you get a scholarship. That is because only those in universities’ Finance Departments are likely to know what ‘CFA’ stands for. Therefore, I see no connection between holding the CFA charter and getting a scholarship.

Finally, if you don’t mind me asking, why do you say, ‘Private Equity is my dream.’ Why? What do you know about ‘Private Equity’?

Please elaborate, and I’ll be glad to comment further.

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All of the above is good advice. If you can get into LBS, which is world class, or a US M7 business school, it’s a no brainer. Going to an unknown or little-known MBA program has limited brand power and probably little value in terms of networking as the alumni network will be weaker. You might still learn some useful stuff and have fun. But you can learn most of what an MBA teaches from books and it’s an expensive way to amuse yourself.

You are young for an MBA program and definitely too young for EMBA which are built for mid-career executives. Some MBA programs offer deferred admissions for young, eager students who don’t have enough experience to contribute meaningfully to the Socratic approach of case learning. That might work for you.

Business schools don’t know what CFA is and it will have absolutely zero impact on your application or the possible conferral of a scholarship.

Business school admissions are generally based on (i) an excellent statement of purpose, (ii) undergraduate GPA, (iii) academic letters of recommendation, and (iv) standardized testing scores (GMAT or GRE). You can produce an excellent SOP and it should be perfect. Set aside a month or two for this. Expect 10 - 40 re-writes. Get a lot of input from people who know you. And if you still can’t crack it, pay an admissions service to help you. Read the final version at least 20 times for typos. Then read it 20 times backwards. (ii) is what it is, so, don’t fret about it. (iii) is important and you can beg, debase yourself, of flatter, or whatever to get the recommendation letters you need. These should be from academics, not friends, associates, or people you work with. (iv) you can control. Take GMAT or GRE or both. And keep taking them until you get a GMAT 7xx or GRE equivalent score. M7 schools are now typically 720-740 median for successful applicants, which is tough. Only the highest score is considered, so you can take the exams many times without penalty. GMAT math is harder. GRE written requires more vocabulary. Choose your poison. Or, as I say, try drinking both. It is better to test 10x to get into a good school than to test once and go somewhere unrecognized.

Good luck with your application.

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