Monday, August 8, 2011

Cell Phones and Online MBA Education

I purchased an iPhone recently, and it got me thinking about online education. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, allow me to explain. I owned the same cell phone for five years. It was a classic flip phone with an antenna. It took 25 keystrokes to write a simple phrase like “happy birthday." It was a terribly inefficient device that my friends reminded me of regularly.

I didn’t get a new phone sooner because I’m a late adopter. It takes me a long time to evaluate products and services, and it takes an even longer time to make a decision. I tend to be distrustful of “the next best thing,” and I prefer to allow other people to test new products so that I may learn from their feedback. So why did I choose to earn an online MBA degree – a relatively new educational program design – instead of a traditional two-year immersive program?

There were three mental obstacles that I had to overcome in order to apply (and be accepted) into the Kelley Direct program. It’s my hope that prospective students who read this blog entry may find my thought process to be parallel to their own. Clearly my goal is to be a good steward for the program, and I hope prospective students will choose the Kelley Direct program, but at the end of the day everyone has to do what’s right for them. With all that said, let me continue.

First, I wanted to make sure that whichever MBA program I chose would have a great reputation. I wanted the program to be challenging and to adhere to strict academic standards, and the Kelley School is frequently ranked among the best in the country. Additionally, the Kelley School has done a tremendous job opening up its career and alumni resources to Kelley Direct students. The administration has further integrated the program so that everyone knows that it’s the first word in “Kelley Direct” that is the most important.

Second, as sick as it sounds, I wanted to keep working. When I was evaluating full-time programs, I had lots of discussions with prospective students about career goals. The inevitable first question that I was asked was “What do you do?” and the follow up question was “What do you want to do?” After answering these questions the same way for about the 500th time, I realized that (a) I love my work, (b) I’m doing exactly what I want to do and (c) I have great opportunities to progress in my career. So why leave for two years to go back to the same job in the same industry?

Third, I have a young family, and their happiness is of paramount importance. My daughter is about a year-and-a-half and my wife is working on her master’s degree. How far would our family be set back if we made nothing for two years? What kind of dad would I be, or shall I say could I be, while being a full-time student? I should note that I met people who were dealing with the same circumstances, and they were accomplishing their MBA as a full-time student while being a family-person. I admire their commitment to fulfilling their MBA dream, but I knew that their path was not for my family and me.

Obviously I’m very happy about my decision to enroll in the Kelley Direct program. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my skills. I’m even looking forward to viewing PowerPoint presentations on my iPhone.

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