Student Perspectives: Earning an MBA Online

Student Perspectives: Earning an MBA Online

Whether you earned your undergraduate degree recently or long ago, thinking about going back to pursue an advanced degree stirs up a lot of questions.

Having recently completed the Master of Business Administration program, University of Cincinnati Online alum Rebecca Hall has answers and tips for those considering their options.

When she decided to pursue her MBA, completing her undergraduate degree in computer science and math was a distant memory and she was already firmly established in her career as an Application Development Manager. Hall provides an inside look at what she calls an overall enjoyable and rewarding experience with UC Online’s MBA program.

What factors made you choose UC Online?

“I’ve always heard great things about UC. But I also did my research ahead of time. I looked at their curriculum, and it matched up with the goals I had for myself.”

What are your career goals and plans?

“My career goal is to keep moving up the ladder. I’m a manager now, and I’d like to be a director at some point.

“Another one of my goals is having my own business. This achievement — getting my MBA — gave me a confidence boost. It helps me believe in myself and those possibilities.”

How do your career prospects look different now vs before you started UC online?

“I was at a smaller company, and the growth opportunities I wanted weren’t really there for me.”

Since completing her MBA, Rebecca is already taking steps toward her goals, accepting a senior manager role at a new company. “Having an advanced degree gave me more negotiating power with my new company. They seem interested in opening up opportunities for me in the future.”

The positive impact of her new status as an MBA graduate on her career prospects may not be a complete surprise to her, but it’s still a new and satisfying revelation. “It made me feel like — wow, people seeing that I have my MBA really does make a difference! It’s definitely an advantage. People see my degree on my resume now and they reach out to me because of that. One recruiter who only works with executives contacted me. That was kind of cool.”

Is there advice you would give to others thinking about pursuing an advanced degree online?

“I would write out your goals, know what you want to do, and research the various options out there. Then decide if the curriculum matches up with your goals. I felt like UC Online was a good choice for me because of how it matched up with what I was looking for.”

How was your experience with pursuing your MBA through UC Online?

“I enjoyed the overall experience, and the group projects were so helpful. Sometimes they were frustrating, but at the end of the day, I enjoyed them and they helped me grow.”

What was your favorite class and why?

“Surprisingly, my favorite class was accounting.”

Did you say accounting?

“I did say accounting! I know. I always thought of accounting as being boring, like crunching numbers and stuff like that. My undergrad degree was in computer science and math, so I do like numbers, but I never thought I’d like accounting. I really enjoyed learning about it. I think the main reason it was so interesting to me was my professor; she was so good. She really made a difference.”

Who was your favorite professor and why?

“Molly Rogers, who taught the accounting class I just mentioned. She made accounting more interesting than I thought it could be.

“Not only that, she really cares about her students. She had an open line at any time and she got back to everyone quickly. I called her once at eight o’clock at night — she actually wanted to hear from me and answer my questions.”

What was your biggest lightbulb moment in the program?

“When I learned about nudging in leadership class.”

Rebecca recalls learning how to influence people’s behavior and encourage them to make a specific decision by how choices are presented rather than telling them what to do. “I went back to work and changed how my developers share what they’re working on. It was such a small change, but it did really make a difference for them. After that, they were updating their statuses, which they weren’t before. I didn’t even have to say anything! That was good. It was interesting to realize — oh, this stuff really works!

“A lot of times you think about the future in terms of, like, how will I be able to use this math? But this was stuff that could make a difference now. I thought that was really cool. I was able to listen to the concepts and think about how I could apply them right away in my management role.”

What advice would you give a prospect or new student on how to make the most of the UC online experience?

Hall shares how planning and a bit of strategy can work to your advantage, advising, “look at all of your options before you start your program. Then pay attention when you’re scheduling your courses. You could work towards two things at once if you choose electives strategically. I got my MBA and earned a marketing certificate as well. So review all the options with the curriculum to decide how you want your degree to go.”

Did you have the opportunity at work to use anything you’d recently learned in class? Describe what the immediate application was and how it helped you.

“Yes, I mentioned getting my developers to update their statuses, but there were others. In my leadership class, we discussed what motivates employees. What I learned led me to think differently about setting goals and motivation. For instance, I’d always set hard goals, but there’s more to consider. For example, you have to keep in mind what each person is capable of. If you make a goal too hard, it negatively impacts their motivation.”

How did you juggle school, work, family, etc. And any advice for potential students?

“My husband was also doing the MBA program, so that helped. It wasn’t like he was out doing other things when I was working, so that made it easier. We could support each other.

“With my work, even on the weekends, I would sometimes get calls on production issues and things like that. So in case something came up on the weekend, I knew I had to plan to do a little bit of school work during the week.

“Since each class was kind of exciting to me, I didn’t have a hard time wanting to do the work. Having said that, you should think about balancing how many classes you take. I tried to take three at one time and that killed me. So I would say pick a lower number of classes to start with until you get used to it. And if you feel like you can handle more, add another. But three was way too much for me, so pay attention to your workload and only take as many classes as you can handle.

“You have five years to complete the program, which makes it flexible for people who need to take longer. It took me a little over two years. The program is built into three semesters per year, but each semester is split in half. I took two classes each half, so about 12 classes per year.”

What was it like maintaining your career while pursuing your degree?

“I did most of my course work on weekends because it was a lot more difficult during the week. So having time set aside and knowing I was always going to do my work at that time made a big difference.

“Also, in my current management role, we have to work long hours. Sometimes I have late appointments. So having the flexibility to study on my own schedule was extremely helpful to me.

“I’m not going to say it was completely easy. It was a lot of work, but it was rewarding.”

Thank you to Rebecca Hall for your time and willingness to share details about getting your MBA through UC Online!

Interested in Pursuing an Advanced Degree?

Explore our master’s programs to discover how you can achieve your goals with a degree from the University of Cincinnati Online; or take the first step in advancing your career by starting your application today.

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