Have you been looking for a way to get ahead in your career? Maybe you’ve been thinking about going back to school for your MBA, but you have concerns. Like most working adults, you probably have bills to pay and a family to support, and you may be wondering how you can manage to find time for a master’s degree. How will you pay for it, and how will you keep food on the table and a roof over your head while you do? Not to mention, who’s going to help the kids with their homework, drive them to soccer practice, and clean the house?
If you’ve been debating getting your MBA, but you’re worried about the cost, the time commitment, and the years out of the work force, an online program might be for you. Online MBA programs are geared toward adult learners with jobs and families, so they’re more flexible than traditional programs, and can be easier to get into, because they tend to have larger enrollment caps. Here’s what you need to know about earning your MBA online.
What an Online MBA Can Offer You
One of the biggest reasons why many working adults don’t pursue a traditional MBA is the required commitment. Going back to graduate school the old-fashioned way means leaving the workforce for a year or two to hemorrhage money, rather than earning it. If you have a family, a mortgage, and other bills, missing those years of work, and paying upwards of $80,000 for tuition could mean leaving your spouse and kids in the lurch. Plus, enrolling in a traditional program means you’ll most likely have to relocate to the city where your new school is located, pay rent on an apartment, buy books, and fork over other associated costs like fees and transportation. Altogether, the degree could cost you upwards of $140,000 or more. Ouch!
But tuition for an online MBA program could cost you significantly less – as little as $5,000 per semester for some programs. You won’t have to relocate, or even drive to class, and because course materials will all be available online, you’ll be able to master them on your own schedule. That means you’ll be able to stay in your job, continue living in the same town, keep the kids in their schools – the whole nine yards. But you’ll still get to network with classmates at all stages of their careers, learn from the best professors in the field, and even take advantage of international immersion and residency opportunities.
How to Get In
Make no mistake – MBA admissions are competitive, no matter what the program. But if you’ve been out of school for a while and you’re looking at getting an MBA to further your career, an online program may represent your best chance of admission. That’s because online MBA programs tend to look for adult learners who are a little further along in their careers. When considering applicants, admissions committees for online MBA programs worry less about whether an applicant will be able to find a job after completing the program – most already have one – and more about whether the degree will help the applicant move up in his or her company. They’re on the same page as you are.
Besides, online MBA programs understand that there are better ways to assess the strengths of applicants who’ve been out of school for a number of years than standardized tests and transcripts. That’s why most online MBA programs look harder at your professional experience; you don’t even necessarily need a bachelor’s degree in a business field. Online MBA no GMAT programs are also common, because committees know that test scores aren’t a strong indicator of ability for more experienced applicants.
How to Succeed
Once you get into an online MBA program, you’ll need to work hard to succeed – and you might need to get creative. A strict schedule will help you make time for work and school, but don’t forget to include some time to spend with family and friends. Many students find time for online courses by getting up early, or staying up late, to work while the kids are in bed. Others find extra time for schoolwork during lunch and work breaks or commutes. Take the opportunity to learn time management and prioritization skills, and be ready to sacrifice much of your free time, at least until graduation.
MBAs have long been touted as the best way to get ahead in business. If life circumstances are keeping you from going the traditional route – or you just want to earn the MBA but skip the crippling debt – an online program could be right for you. With hard work and perseverance, you can make your business dreams come true.