How Technology Can Help You Get Through Your MBA

Edu Tech

Getting into business school, as most readers know all too well, is often a feat in and of itself — though it rarely stacks up to the struggle that comes when trying to find a market niche. Particularly for entrepreneurs, the possibilities can seem endless.

The post that follows may provide some guidance for grads in this situation. Emma Collins, author of the recently-published MBA School Rankings List, profiles many of the opportunities in the up and coming education technology sector, and includes tips on how to break into the field.


While tuition at traditional educational institutions continues to rise, a number of education-technology entrepreneurs have stepped in to make schooling more affordable and effective. The education market has been attracting more than just tech-minded entrepreneurs, though; venture capitalists eager to invest in education-based tech companies have also been chomping at the bit. Overall, the Software & Information Industry Association estimates the K-12 education software and digital-content industry at $7.5 billion in the US, — and it’s rapidly growing. Venture capitalists invested $429.1 million through 82 education-technology deal in 2011 alone, up from $334.3 million and 58 deals in 2010. For aspiring MBA students, many of these startups offer applications that give users an advantage in an increasingly competitive market, though some believe these entrepreneurs may revolutionize the education market completely.

“Right now we are seeing a boom in educational costs and a simultaneous reduction in education effectiveness,”says Ariel Diaz of Boundless, a Boston-based startup offering free online textbook replacements for college students. “This creates a huge opportunity to leverage the prevalence of technology and the availability of open content to dramatically revolutionize education.” Diaz believes we are now seeing a “golden age of education startups” in which we may see more change in education over the next 10 years than we have in the past 50. Indeed, the education-tech market still appears to be growing rapidly, having begun its boom even as the US and global economy sank into recession.

A few companies have already gotten started paving the way towards a more user-oriented future for education. One such company, Knewton, delivers what it calls “adaptive learning” by customizing coursework with digital algorithms. Knewton collects data from millions of students on how they learn and perform on digital textbooks, then uses the information to tailor its educational materials. “What we can do is figure out exactly what you know … down to the atomic concept,” says Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira. So far, Knewton has raised $54 million, more than any other Ed Tech startup, suggesting great potential for long-term viability in the market.

Though many companies have targeted young, developing learners, many are designed to assist upper-level high school and undergraduate students to prepare for competitive programs in a number of fields. Parliament Tutors is a New York-based company that offers in-home and online tutoring to prepare students for all subjects, including tests like the SAT and even the MCAT. Online social marketing has allowed the company to grow to 500 tutors in more than 20 states in only three years.

Though globalization has made top-ranked MBA programs more competitive than ever, many tech-savvy entrepreneurs have designed applications that can provide welcome assistance to aspiring MBA students. One of the most daunting aspects of business school for many students is group projects. These usually require a great deal of collaboration and are often heavily weighted at the end of a course. The free online application Trello allows college students to manage both large and small group projects by assigning each person with a label and filtering responsibilities through the application. Students can create deadlines, assign tasks and even collaborate in real time — all without having to physically be in the same space.

Perhaps even more challenging than group work for business students are research papers that often serve as final exams for business theory courses. However, free applications like GoodReader and EasyBib can greatly assist MBA-bound students. Goodreader allows students to import and view any file type, be it text, audio or movie, as well as offering many note-taking tools. EasyBib greatly simplifies the meticulous process of properly formatting a bibliography by enabling students to create accurate MLA, APA and Chicago style citations. By simply scanning the barcode or typing in the name of a book used for reference, the app saves time and cuts down on the stress of ensuring each source is properly punctuated and formatted.

The marketplace for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders will only become more competitive in the coming years. Yet, the innovative resources being developed by education-tech startups can give ambitious students a distinct advantage as they move towards their respective goals. In time, the services and products offered by these companies may not only aid the tech-savvy students who seek out their services, but could possibly revolutionize the market by delivering quality education to all who seek it.

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