Online Learning is Just as Rigorous
A few months ago, I had an interesting conversation with a family friend, who informed me that they did not believe that an online education should be accredited. Their belief was that without the students being in the presence of professors, they could easily find the answers to exams with Google, or by searching through textbooks. I was taken aback by their opinion, as I felt they were belittling all of the effort I had put forth into earning my MBA. The program by itself is a challenge, however being completed online makes it even more difficult. What that person failed to realize was that by not being in the presence of professors, a majority of the material I was learning was self-taught. Rather than sitting in a classroom and observing how statistical formulas are derived, or watching as an accounting balance sheet is filled out based off of a company’s financial information, I am instead trying to understand the material by reading my textbooks and practicing on my own. When I have questions regarding the material being covered, I cannot simply raise my hand and ask a question, or meet with the professor after class has ended. Instead, I must email the professor and hope to catch them in-time to complete the necessary assignments, or reach out to a fellow classmate and hope they understand the material and can answer my questions. As for the assumption that exam answers can easily be “Googled,” a majority of the exams are timed, and there is normally just enough to complete the test based off of learned knowledge and the occasional gut instinct. There is certainly not enough time to thumb through a textbook or conduct web searches to find the right answers.
In addition to the difficulty of an online learning program, courses are completed in an 8 week period rather than a full semester. You are still covering the same amount of material, and also completing the same amount of assignments, however you are completing it in half the time. I have spent many nights feverishly typing on my computer until 2AM, just trying to finish my assignments by their deadlines. Whether you are employed full-time, or a stay-at-home parent like me, it can be very challenging to find enough time in the day to dedicate to your studies. I normally have to wait until my daughter goes to bed each night before I can focus my attention on my class work. There have even been times that I have had to get help from my family to babysit for me so that I can lock myself in the office for several hours, such as when I have a three hour exam that I simply could not complete if I waited until her bedtime to start.
Tough but Rewarding
Even with all of the challenges I face with the MBA program, it has been one of the most rewarding ventures I have taken. I have gained confidence in my ability to learn and comprehend once intimidating material. Even though I may have struggled through similar classes in my undergrad, my professional experience has expanded my understanding and capabilities, so that the classes now make sense. I also take pride in knowing that this program will better prepare me for future roles, and potential employers will respect my dedication to bettering myself by furthering my education. The program is very difficult and you will be faced with many challenges throughout, but the personal and professional rewards make it all worthwhile.