“You have to be responsible for your own education as an online student, so I advise you to be ready to take an active role in your classes.”
The Big Picture
Why did you choose to enroll at Colorado Technical University to earn your online master of business administration degree?
I chose to enroll at Colorado Technical University for my online MBA because I felt that it was a good place for nontraditional students like myself. I had already spent 30 years in the workforce. For me, returning to school for my education felt like putting a lid on the hands-on education I already had. But I feel like my education will support me in making good career decisions in the future.
Another reason that I chose to get my MBA through Colorado Technical University is because I was already familiar with the school, since I earned my associates and bachelors degrees there too. They made it very easy for me to continue my education. In fact, 3 weeks before I finished my bachelors program, I was contacted to see if I was interested in going on to get a masters degree. The application process was very streamlined, since I was a stellar student in good standing with the university. I was able to enter the masters program without any additional interviews, letters of recommendation or written statements. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to take any special prerequisites.
What are the benefits of earning an MBA degree online?
The biggest benefit to an online MBA program is the flexibility that it offers students who are working while going to school. For example, while I was attending Colorado Technical University, I was working 50 to 60 hours each week. But since I could access my classes whenever I wanted, I was able to maintain my grades and finish my assignments by the due date.
Another convenient aspect of my online MBA program was that my online instructors were very available at any time of day. At a brick-and-mortar school, you might have to chase down a professor during their office hours. But you can e-mail, instant message or call an online instructor at almost any time from anywhere in the world.
What are some drawbacks to earning an MBA degree online?
A potential drawback to earning an online MBA degree is that you might not get to work directly with people who have real-world experience. At my program, there was no residency requirement, which I didn’t feel was necessary for me since I came into my program with a 30-year background in accounting and finance. But it seemed to me that the younger students should have had a prior residency or internship requirement in order to enter the program. They didn’t have the hands-on experience that I received through working in the industry, so they couldn’t contribute a lot to class discussions.
How can prospective students be sure that an online MBA program is legitimate?
I think the most important thing that a prospective online MBA student should do is to make sure that their questions are answered before they commit to a program. That means they will have to conduct some research and examine their options thoroughly. They should invest time into speaking with advisors at different schools so that they will be completely satisfied with the information they receive. For instance, even though Colorado Technical University is a great school, I found out after I had committed to its program that Kaplan University offered a more in-depth MBA with a concentration in human resources management that would have been better for me. Had I exercised due diligence, I would have gone with the program at Kaplan University.
What did you learn in an online MBA program?
My online MBA program presented a broad spectrum of knowledge, but students were also able to focus on specific topics under the umbrella of business administration. Human resources management was very important to my career path, so I specialized in that area. We learned about how to enforce equality in the workplace and how to be sensitive to other cultures. My program also integrated human resources concepts with instruction in related management areas, like applied accounting, for example.
How was the curriculum in your online MBA program at Colorado Technical University presented?
The MBA curriculum at Colorado Technical University was centered on live lectures given by our instructors. The lectures were an hour long and aired twice a week. Students logged in to hear the lectures, and could either type questions or ask them directly if they had a microphone. Some students even had webcams so they could be seen talking.
The instructors kept attendance according to who was listening to the live class sessions, but attendance was not required, since many students, like me, had busy work schedules. For that reason, every class session was recorded and uploaded so that we could watch it when we had time.
What kinds of academic resources did Colorado Technical University provide to help you succeed in your education?
Colorado Technical University offered online resources like a library and tutoring centers. The online library contains an immense amount of curriculum information. Also, students who needed refreshers in subjects like algebra and calculus could go to virtual labs for assistance. The virtual campus also offered live chats and a one-on-one tutoring center to help students with a wide variety of subjects.
My school also had an outstanding advisory department. If I was feeling overwhelmed, or starting to experience burnout, they worked with me. Although I didn’t need to do this, I could withdraw from one session in order to catch up or take a break.
There is also a great alumni program that I am involved with now as a student mentor. It makes me feel like I am part of a community, because I was not forgotten the minute I earned my degree.
What kinds of computer skills were necessary to succeed in an online MBA program?
In my online MBA program, I needed very basic computer skills, like the ability to navigate search engines and work within the Microsoft Office suite. You did not have to be a computer genius to get through the program. The only problem was that technical difficulties did arise occasionally, such as when an instructor’s computer would lock up during a live chat or lecture. In that case, the class would have to be made up later.
Can you describe your interaction with your professors?
My interaction with my instructors was generally positive. In fact, I have even asked some of them for letters of recommendation, and 1 has offered to provide me with a job reference. Many of the instructors knew their topics well enough to competently answer the questions they were asked by students. I felt that their lectures were worth attending online. For example, the last instructor I had would bring in outside articles and research materials that were current and integrate them with his PowerPoint lectures. He would challenge us to find current, topical material and bring it to class as well. To me, that was what a masters degree course should look like.
But other instructors were weak teachers. Their lectures were boring and rote, and they either could not or would not explain things in depth. Sometimes they were difficult to understand, too. I liked to challenge those instructors by asking questions that were outside the scope of their presentations. I found out that in many cases, they didn’t like being put on the spot like that.
How did you fund your MBA program?
I paid for my MBA through student loans. My school did provide basic information on how to apply for financial aid, but since I used to work as a default collector of student loans, I knew how to find that information myself.
Do you feel like you got your money’s worth?
I do feel like I got my money’s worth through my MBA program at Colorado Technical University because it was accredited and quick. My program is accredited by the Society for Human Resources Management, as well as other scholastic crediting agencies. That makes me feel like my degree is worthwhile and legitimate. Another reason that I value my degree is because it takes students at a traditional campus much longer to finish their programs. But as a nontraditional student, I was on a fast-track plan.
The Job Hunt
Do you think that employers value an online MBA degree as much as an MBA from a brick-and-mortar school?
I don’t know if employers will value the education that I got through my online MBA program as much as one from a brick-and-mortar school, but I think they should. My program taught me how to develop organizations and how to manage the people in those organizations. The content of my knowledge matters more than where it came from, and since my degree doesn’t indicate that it was done online, I don’t think it will matter to my employer.
Did an online MBA program allow you to network?
I do feel like I was able to network with my peers through my online MBA program. I interacted with people from every walk of life. From housewives to corporate executives and military personnel, I now have many more connections than I had before I started my MBA program.
What advice can you offer students who are trying to decide if an online MBA program is right for them?
I would remind students that there is a big difference between online and offline study. Most brick-and-mortar schools are designed to hold your hand after high school, but in an online program, there is no one checking up on you to monitor your progress. You have to be responsible for your own education as an online student, so I advise you to be ready to take an active role in your classes. In order to succeed, you will need to be focused and serious about your goals. Don’t expect that you can blow your courses off for a party, because you will get behind very quickly.