Prospective students of an online MBA program usually have many questions filling their minds before they start. What will an online experience be like? How will the online education be different from being a residential student? What does the MBA program entail? Will future employers respect my online degree? Will my job prospects expand? Will the program be worth the time, money and effort I put into it?
To help put prospective students at ease, we are asking online MBA graduates some of these important questions in order to give our readers perspective from students who have been through the program.
Tracy Farrell recently graduated from the online MBA program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Being named one of the 100 safest college communities in the United States, it is the flagship public research university in Nebraska. The main campus is located in Lincoln and it receives its regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. Offering degrees from associate's to doctoral, there are over 25,00 students currently enrolled. UNL's College of Business is accredited through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). This top-notch 48-credit hour online MBA program offers concentrations in Business Analytics, Supply Chain Management, International Business, Finance, and Marketing. UNL's online MBA is one of the most-recognized in the country being ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review, as well as being ranked among the best in the world by the Financial Times and Quacquarelli Symonds. Online MBA Today has featured the outstanding UNL Online MBA program in the rankings of the Top Online MBA programs in Nebraska and the Top 50 Online MBA Programs.
Online MBA Today: Overall, how satisfied are you with your online MBA education?
Tracy Farrell: I am more satisfied than I imagined I could be when I started. I think my education was exceptional and I am extremely pleased with my degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Online MBA Today: What do you wish you had known before you started your program that you know now?
Tracy Farrell: Being that I am making a complete career change, I wish I had taken the time to interview and explore different areas of business prior to beginning my program. It is pretty intimidating to do that when there is so much you don't know. I think it would be great if a school could help align some of that with business managers/consultants and provide some sample questions to get you started. As I start really looking into finding a new job, there are definitely skills that I think I could have honed in on more throughout my education if I had been more prepared from the beginning on the direction I wanted to head.
Online MBA Today: What was your experience in the job market after graduating?
Tracy Farrell: It has been tough. Although I have 20 years of experience, it is very niche. I was hoping that getting my MBA would provide me a more well-rounded background. It has definitely gotten me more attention than previously, but I haven't landed that perfect job yet.
Online MBA Today: Did employers show any reservations about the fact that you earned your MBA online rather than on-campus?
Tracy Farrell: Just the opposite. In most of the interviews I've had, employers seemed to be impressed with the classes I was taking. They also seem to recognize and appreciate the amount of self-discipline and organization that is needed to complete an online program. With so much business being performed remotely and across time zones/nations, employers seem to like that I already have the skills to work like this as my program included many group projects where we had to overcome these barriers.
Online MBA Today: What advice would you give to a prospective student trying to decide on a program?
Tracy Farrell: Wow! That's a hard one. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You should feel like you are interviewing a program as much as they are interviewing you. I think definitely try to research as best you can the kind of job you are looking for and find a program that specializes in that. For me, it was business analytics so that narrowed the field quite a bit. After that I just spent a lot of time talking to those in the program and asked a lot about post-graduation business connections. I recommend asking for names of students who are attending or have attended the program – specifically in your geographical region and try to talk to them. Then, in the end, follow your gut. Even though I live in the Pacific NW, I could not be happier with having chosen UNL for my education and I feel very lucky to have received my education from them. I have spoken to students of other programs, and I never regret the decision I made.
Online MBA Today: How positive of an impact do you believe obtaining your degree from this program will have on your career in the immediate future? Long term?
Tracy Farrell: Being that I live in Oregon, I think the immediate future is a little harder, as there are many schools in-state where I could have gotten my degree and have better local business connections. However, none are as well ranked as UNL which I think is important in the long-run. I think the education I received is first rate. I know that once I get my first post-graduate job, people will recognize that. This will have a great positive impact in the long-term of my career.
Big Take Aways
PREPAREDNESS: In any endeavor, it helps to be as best prepared as possible. The first-rate education that the University of Nebraska, Lincoln provides assists students with obtaining the utmost information, training, and teaching to best prepare them for the professional business world. Not only has Tracy found that employers are impressed with her education, they seem to greatly appreciate that she has received her MBA online. As business has evolved along with technology, there is so much business conducted online, including worldwide meetings that require a certain skill set to execute. This online MBA program has best prepared students with these skills so they can confidently pursue the careers they desire.
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Advice comes to us in many different forms, but we tend to respect and appreciate most the advice that comes from a person who has personally experienced what they are talking about. Tracy has been through this UNL online MBA program and encourages prospective students with three suggestions. First, make sure to ask questions of the program to help find the best fit for you before you commit. Second, "research as best you can the kind of job you are looking for and find a program that specializes in that." Third, make sure you find students who are currently in or have graduated the program to assist you in discovering more about what the program has to offer and to make business connections for yourself for after graduation.