As with any major investment, the timing of your MBA is critical. Similar to buying or selling a house or trading on the stock market, you want to "get in" at the right time and extract the most value from the transaction.

The "right time" to embark on your MBA should be such that it allows you to make the most out of the experience with regards to your personal development, knowledge acquisition, career advancement and earning potential. This is not to say that getting an MBA at any other time would negate these elements; the MBA experience is an asset no matter when you get it - this article is about making sure you make the most of it by timing it right.

When investing in stocks, you want to pick a company that will stand the test of time, appreciate in value and yield good dividends. Similarly, top ranked business schools have the reputation, track record and quality to deliver on these requirements. If you're going to make such a huge investment (up to two years of your life and a substantial financial commitment), then “pick the right stocks”.

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on the right time for your MBA - the first is maturity.

An MBA is a stimulating experience. All at once, you're immersing yourself in new and diverse subject matter, interviewing for an internship or full time job (sometimes for both) and networking with classmates, faculty and alumni. Each of these activities is sufficient to fill up your entire time in business school. Personal maturity (which is not correlated with age) will ensure you make the right tradeoffs and handle the pressure effectively. You’ll be competing with the "cream of the crop" and there will be a few disappointments along the way. You need to have the mental fortitude and maturity to stay the course and persevere, especially when it appears that everyone around you has things figured out and things aren’t working exactly as envisaged. As much as we celebrate the successes of MBA alumni who go on to do great things, there is that minority that falls by the wayside because they couldn't handle the pressure. Mental fortitude and maturity are essential ingredients to see you through, and help you make the most out of the experience.

To evaluate your readiness for the rigors of an MBA, it’s a useful exercise to talk to those who know you best…and aren’t afraid to tell you the truth! Companies like Total Ascent also organize workshops where you can meet with alumni from various business schools and get different perspectives on readiness and preparation requirements.

Next Week: More factors to consider in timing your MBA right.

Thomas Oluwatosin Okojie, MBA

Tosin has an MBA from Yale University and is the CEO of Total Ascent (www.total-ascent.com), a Test Preparation (GMAT/GRE/LBS Exam) and MBA Admissions Consulting company. Direct comments to info@total-ascent.com