When I considered whether to do my MBA in an on-line program or a traditional classroom setting, I was repeatedly given the same advice: “Don’t do an on-line program or you will miss out on the learning and networking that happens when you are in the classroom with other professionals and leaders in the community.” Well, despite their advice, I decided to enroll in The University of Scranton’s on-line MBA program. The on-line program was a better fit for my life, and being 25+ years into my career already, I wasn’t too worried about the so-called “missed opportunity” that I was cautioned about.
Now, only 6 credits from graduating, I am very happy to report that the biggest thing I was surprised to learn and experience with the on-line program was the connection I could make to the people in my classes whom I had never and still have never met in person.
Beginning with the student introductions in my very first class, I realized that I was going to be in classes with a very diverse group of students. I even will boldly say that I believe I have experienced an even broader range of diversity among my classmates than I would have gotten at a local, on-campus MBA program.
My fellow students in this program come from all over the country and all over the globe. And, although this could happen at a local college, I don’t believe I would have met as many people from as many different places with as many different experiences. I have experienced people from government, academia, private and public industries, small business owners, people from the healthcare and pharmaceutical field - you name it, and I’ve probably had all of those represented in my classes. I’ve been in school with students who ranged from recent undergraduates to first level and middle managers to directors and executives and retirees and I’ve learned something from all of them.
I was also surprised how much I’d get to know these people. Because of the program structure, every course involves discussion posts. Then after you complete your post, you must read your classmate’s posts and write a response to a few of them. It’s amazing how you really can begin to form some connections and bonds with your fellow students through this type of discussion forum. The program also involves some group projects where you have an even higher level of interaction with other students in the program.
After a few classes, you also begin to “run into” students you have been in class with before and can sincerely say, “Nice to be in class with you again!”.
Obviously, I have no regrets about my decision to enroll in an on-line MBA program and when asked for my opinion between on-line and on campus programs, I share my experiences. I tell people that most big decisions typically come with some form of risk or tradeoff, but one tradeoff they won’t have to make with this program is whether or not they will learn from their peers and build their network, because they definitely will.