An MBA is a tough, costly but potentially lucrative undertaking and prospective MBAs have so many important and genuine questions. Here, we select the most commonly asked questions for those in the preliminary stages of considering whether or not to do an MBA.

How much experience should one have before applying for an MBA? An increasing number of fresh graduates are applying for MBA courses immediately after their degree. However, the best advice is to gain at least four years of work experience. Sej Butler, Recruitment Manager of IBM Europe advises, “Before that I don’t believe you are getting the most out of your MBA as you are still too junior in your career.”

Selecting the right MBA college?

There are hundreds of business schools around the world, and more than one ‘right’ school for you. We recommend short-listing five colleges, two that are your dream to get into, but where you will face stiff competition; one that is a prestigious ‘evens bet’ and two that you have a good chance of getting into.

When should I apply?

Early. Find out if your school has a rolling admissions process – they take applications all year round – or if there is a specific date deadline, and aim to get your application in some weeks before it. However, it’s vital that you provide everything at a time, along with the application. A forgotten GMAT score or letter of recommendation is enough to see your precious application moved to the bottom of a growing pile.

Where I study matters in anyway?

Not as much as before, as business continues to globalise. Narrow down your locations first. The US and UK MBAs earn the highest average salaries but the costs of undertaking such courses are commensurately high. There are prestigious and cost-effective courses in Australia, Europe, Asia and India. If you want to develop your career in Asia, for instance, Australian courses and businesses have close Asia-Pacific links; a course in Spain may not have the same links in Asian circles but will be beneficial if Latin America is your aspiration.

What about the Return on Investment and how significant is it?

Return on investment (RoI) is a method of comparing the post-graduation salary of an MBA course against the costs involved in taking that course. However, there is evidence that MBA salaries are converging as multinational companies benchmark salaries on a global rather than on a national scale.

What about finances for MBA?

Most of the schools will have some kind of policy in place to help with some or all of your tuition fees or living costs, even when studying in a foreign country. We know that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of scholarships or other financial aid goes unclaimed every year so spend as much time as you can discovering what funding is available and how to put yourself in the driving seat to secure it. Look closely at scholarships and loans but be prepared to have sufficient money to look after yourself in difficult financial situations.