‘Why do you want to do an MBA?” In the last decade of working with students across various schools and colleges, we have asked many students this question and the most common answer is some polite version of, “To make money.” Unfortunately, while many with an MBA do make money, it is hardly a sufficient or even a necessary condition. Many think that this degree can get them promotion on a management track.

There are thousands of colleges around the world marketing their MBA programmes to students or job professionals. However, most of them fail to tell that this degree is not a ticket to their success. It can never replace their hard work, commitment, teamwork and ability to drive results. This can only provide them a platform to learn more about various disciplines of business management such as marketing, finance, accounting, operations, leadership, etc. Why do an MBA, then? Does it help you in your career? The answer to this question is “absolutely if you get into one of the top business schools.” (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or Carnegie Mellon or top B Schools in India like the IIMs, XLRI and ISB).

A top school helps you to increase your earnings, open doors to top companies across the world, connect with other emerging leaders, meet your future business partners, and uncover your true potential. If you do not get admitted into such colleges, you need to think hard about why you want to pursue an MBA. If it is to learn more or gain knowledge in certain areas of business, you should definitely go ahead. If the answer is it will help you get a career edge, then it may be better for you to focus on enhancing your technical knowledge, skills, working hard on your current job and delivering results.

An MBA degree is an applied degree. The value is derived from how you use it in your professional growth. When you join a good, reputed MBA programme, you not only get an opportunity to learn from the faculties, diverse group of classmates, but also get an access to the established alumni network, good placement office and a strong brand you can put on your resume for rest of your career.

It can be a vehicle to redefine yourself or make a quantum leap in your career. You can also use it as a vehicle to change if you want to explore and try something new. Many graduates of top MBA colleges join a consulting organisation after graduation and allow them to work on different type of projects, industries and clients for a few years before they decide on their practice specialisation. They find their passion, niche and decide to join in a functional role with a company or start their own business.

A strong alumni network is by far one of the biggest advantages that an MBA from a leading business school offers you. Like old wine, your batchmates keep adding value to themselves and you find yourself constantly in an environment where you can learn, be challenged as well as be supported by some of the best minds and leaders in the industry. Again, a whole number of new businesses are set up by B-School students who have spent several years discussing their ideas and dreams till they come together to make it happen.

And, of course, it’s always great to have the who’s who of the corporate sector just a phone call away. So, first think hard on why you want to do it. If it is to give a boost to your career, make sure you work hard to get into a reputed MBA programme, especially one that has global brand and reputation. This degree will give you an excellent platform to learn, build relationships, have fun and build upon your previous experience.

However, your future will be more influenced and shaped by your work, your drive, and your results post MBA.

The writers are founder and managing director, respectively, stoodnt.