Considering the Overall MBA Experience When Selecting a Part-Time MBA Program
In my first class as a part-time MBA student, Professor Jahangir Boroumand opened his Managerial Economics lecture by expressing how he truly respects and recognizes the valuable time and money we invest in our education. He emphasized that as students, we certainly face various constraints and opportunity costs – both of which also happen to be important economic concepts! Indeed, when I was applying to part-time MBA programs, I was aware of both the cost of tuition as well as the value of my time and effort spent on obtaining an MBA. However, I made the decision to pursue my MBA after I did a cost-benefit analysis (my last economics lesson, I promise!). So while I knew that obtaining the degree itself would be one of the greatest benefits of embarking on this journey, an overall benefit would be the experience of being an MBA student itself.
In essence, I recognized that being an MBA student would provide me with great learning and networking opportunities within the program, both inside and outside of the classroom. These opportunities include access to my school’s career services office, which provides a vast array of tools and services to enhance my career. In addition, my school’s networking events and student clubs and organizations would give me many opportunities to expand my network, perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of completing an MBA program. Although factors such as the program’s curriculum, faculty, ranking, cost, and location were indeed vital in selecting Smith as the best program for me, other factors that would contribute to an overall rewarding educational experience were also key.
Accordingly, potential part-time MBA students hoping to gain more out of their education than a degree may want to think about factors that encompass the entire MBA experience. Essentially, not all schools provide the same opportunities and services to their part-time students as they do to their full-time students. Since access to career services, clubs and organizations, and networking opportunities are not fully described in a program’s website, potential students should inquire about these from schools at information sessions and open house events.
For instance, through my inquiries at MBA admissions events, I learned that some schools in the Washington D.C. area tailor their career services to full-time students and provide very little service to part-time students. Their reason may be that, unlike the majority of part-time students, full-time students are unemployed. While this may be true, I know many part-time MBA students who are looking to change careers. At the same time, some part-time students may want to compete for promotions at their current organization, negotiate higher salaries, or even enhance their skills in their current jobs. These are all skills with which a school’s career services office can provide valuable assistance.
After attending several information sessions and speaking with numerous current students and alumni at various schools, I learned that Smith is one of the few programs in the area that offers almost identical career services opportunities to both its part-time and full-time students. Having considered all aspects of a part-time MBA program, including access to such services and opportunities, I made the decision to attend Smith.
Ultimately, if the part-time and full-time MBA students of a school both pay the same tuition, take the same classes, and complete the same number of credits, isn’t it logical that they also have access to the same services and opportunities? Sure, the part-time students may have to manage their time better to take advantage of these events and services, but, in the end, they’re more likely to get a higher return on their investment (I can’t help it, I was a finance major!), and the benefits will outweigh the costs.
Shabnam Tehrani (Shabi) is a first-year part-time MBA student in the DC campus. After graduating from George Mason University with a degree in Finance, she worked at Accenture, first as a Financial Analyst then a Financial Specialist. She currently works as an Energy Industry Analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In her spare time, she enjoys writing, practicing yoga and martial arts, and discovering new places.