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I need some help, and I have come to greatly value the MT community's opinion. I am considering going back to school for my MBA. What type of school/mba is what I am working on right now. I am a sucessful IT manager, that is not looking to move out of the IT. Instead I would like to move up to a more senior position. Currently, I am leaning toward a tier 3 online school that is based outside my state. This choice is based on my calculation of ROI of my investment. Online allows the flexibility I need and they are a cost leader for an accredidated university. My fear is that after all the work the MBA wont mean much because it didnt come from a top national or regional school in my area. I know our community members looks at many resumes everyday, and I would appreciate any thoughts you could share.

Thanks,

Scott

HMac's picture

Scott: I have some former colleagues who now work at Capella University (online, based in Minneapolis). I would be happy to connect you with them for you to get their perspective. Admittedly they're going to be biased in favor of online learning, but these are people whose judgment I trust.

That's all I got. If you're interested, PM me and I'll send you contact details.

-Hugh

jhack's picture

Scott,

You might find this thread interesting:
http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2549

I found the personal relationships I built up to be a core part of the value. Most valuable, learning the language of finance, marketing, organizational theory, etc, made it a lot easier for me to interact with senior executives once I moved up. The degree itself did not get me a promotion or a raise.

If you're looking for the MBA to be a slingshot to a shiny new career, then it ought to be a luxury brand MBA. If you want to learn about finance, etc, so that you can be more effective, then don't worry about the brand, but focus on the curriculum. You can learn that material in many ways: school, online, books, alumni networks, etc.

John

sbockh01's picture

Thanks for the opinion guys. In my mind, I am not looking for a sling shot or a large career change. To me it is about rounding myself out, and gaining additional knowledge that will be helpful as I begin to work with another tier in the organization. I will continue to read books and use other mechinisms to learn; the MBA looks like a good systematic way to aquire a solid set of buisness knowledge.

Thanks again,

Scott

asteriskrntt1's picture

Online programs differ greatly as to how often you meet team-mates, the types of projects you can work on and the relationships you build. You might also take an executive MBA vs a main stream MBA. I did my MBA in a traditional school setting but deviated by doing a double major (finance and marketing).

While my professors for the most part were amazing and I am still in touch with many of them, I feel I learned more from the top performers in my classes. These are the people who taught me how to apply what I learned in class in the real world.

*RNTT

bflynn's picture

If you've read the other thread, you already know my general thoughts. Let me add more for your specific situation.

On the online program - I do not think highly of online MBA schools. A good part of the rounding out experience is soft skills, which you are extremely difficult to acquire through online interfaces. You are in IT, so this doesn't seem to make sense, but management isn't about technical things. Even the parts of management that are technical aren't about technology.

Today's MBA programs are primarily recruiting channels for management jobs, most of which are outside the IT realm. If you're not looking to change your job, the MBA program is not the most efficient way to go. You would be better off with a MS or similar degree to build on your area of interest and use that as a recruiting path at graduation.

Brian

Nik's picture

[quote="bflynn"]Today's MBA programs are primarily recruiting channels for management jobs, most of which are outside the IT realm. If you're not looking to change your job, the MBA program is not the most efficient way to go. You would be better off with a MS or similar degree to build on your area of interest and use that as a recruiting path at graduation.[/quote]

Picking a school by the value of their career network/recruiters is not a terrible idea. BUT if you are truly interested in rounding out your skill set, then you may want to look beyond schools that have great job placement opportunities.

Many well-established and highly ranked schools have a younger student body (lots of eager college graduates wanting to catapult into the big leagues), and tenured professors who aren't entirely interested in educating. You end up buying a first rate diploma, but receive a third-rate education.

I visited the schools in my area and ended up at the local state school (Colorado State). The dean has great ambitions for the business school, and has been working hard on retaining excellent faculty. CSU also has a requirement that all applicants have more than four years of work experience. As a result, I found myself getting a high quality education, enhanced by peers who challenged me and brought new ideas into the classroom. (And it was cheap.)

The skills I learned have served me well. I think the investment of time and money was well worth it. But I also know people who went to DU's highly-rated b-school and graduated directly into six-figure incomes. But when I talk to them about our experiences, they say I got the better education.

CSU has an excellent distance program, too, by the by. The distance program interacts with the in-class program and gets the same lectures (as videos), the same faculty, the same assignments, etc. Truly a distance school rather than an online one. It's also HIGHLY collaborative, so you do build up relationships with your peers. You may want to check it out.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

If cost and convenience are your principle drivers then you might want to look at [url=http://personalmba.com/]Personal MBA[/url]. It's basically a reading list that should give you the knowledge you would gain from an MBA course.

Key disadvantages would be:
* Don't get the MBA certificate and can't describe yourself as having an MBA
* No feedback
* No fellow students to interact and collaborate with (although if you know others who might like to go through with you there's no reason you couldn't set up a study group to work through the list together and discuss the content)
* No tutors to consult if you have questions (although you might be able to find a mentor who could fulfil that function)

Key advantages could be:
* Price (the complete set of books can be bought as a set from Amazon for around $1,300 or may even be available through your public library)
* Convenience, you can work through the books at your own pace
* A lot of the books are ones you should probably be reading any how, and have been recommended by Mark, Mike and others on these forums
* If you do decide you want to do an on-line or traditional MBA after all, you'll have a head start, and probably a fair few of the course books

Stephen

TomW's picture

[quote="bflynn"] A good part of the rounding out experience is soft skills, which you are extremely difficult to acquire through online interfaces. [/quote]

I don't think of business schools as a place to learn soft skills.

I've only met a few MBAs who had any soft skills in the first place, let alone learned them in school. Most of the MBA grads I've met were very cold and analytical with very antiquated ideas about building relationships and managing personnel. Going in person or online won't affect that.

Now, you may gain new insights from peers on projects, but that happens online as well. In 2008, if you're not capable of working with a virtual team, you're behind the curve. That IS a skill you would be more likely to pick up in an online program than in a physical one.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Tom

My experience with MBAs is quite different. Most were great communicators. That being said, a big part of being a great communicator is being a great listener and observer and learning how to pry information out of people.

*RNTT

Nik's picture

Bottom line: Shop around and talk A LOT to alums, look at where folks from the school go next, etc. Then use that info to figure out if it's for you and worth the time and money.