Benefits Of An Online MBA
Online MBAs are growing in popularity.
But what is the benefit of an online MBA and how can you choose a good online MBA program?
Heidi Rivera of Money recently spoke to a few experts on what an online MBA can provide and how applicants can choose the right program.
Cost is the biggest benefit to an online MBA versus a traditional MBA.
For one, an online MBA doesn’t require you to relocate or find housing, saving you potentially thousands of dollars versus a traditional, on-campus MBA.
While many online MBA’s have costs similar to traditional MBA’s, there are select online programs that are more affordable and hold great value.
In addition to lower cost, an online MBA can offer students more flexibility by allowing them to schedule classes at their own pace. Additionally, according to Rivera, students in online MBA programs are likely able to keep their job while studying rather than take a two-year break from work to pursue a traditional, on-campus MBA.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ONLINE MBA
Much like choosing a traditional MBA, the selection of online MBAs is vast.
However, experts say one of the first things applicants should do is figure out what their goals are and how an online MBA program can help them achieve those goals.
“It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how overlooked this is,” Linda Abraham of Accepted tells Money.
Abraham recommends that applicants do research on a specific program’s curriculum, the faculty, and the school’s career support to see if they align with your career goals.
Additionally, experts recommend applicants to verify a school’s credibility. Typically, you’ll want to ensure a b-school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
And while cost of an online MBA is certainly lower than a traditional MBA, experts still recommend applicants to do a cost analysis of different programs.
“I encourage students to really dig deep before they make the investment,” Abraham tells Money. “Yes, the investment is less than with the full-time (residential) MBA program, but it’s still significant.”
How To Answer The “What Will You Contribute” Essay Question
If you’re applying for an MBA, you’ll most likely have to answer an essay question that asks you what you’ll contribute or bring to campus.
For instance, Wharton applicants are asked to answer the following: “Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community?”
Many other b-schools will have some variation of that question. What exactly is the best way to approach the essay? The experts at Accepted recently shared a few tips on how applicants can position themselves as a candidate with plenty to contribute.
POINT TO PAST ACHIEVEMENTS
Experts say applicants should look to their past achievements and quantify the impact they had in certain experiences.
“By showing how you’ve already contributed, you demonstrate that you have the initiative, people skills, and organizational talent to make an impact in the future,” according to Accepted. “Perhaps your past contribution is part of an ongoing program or a recurring event that you intend to continue with in the future. This will show the adcom that your achievements are not one-offs; you can demonstrate your commitment, as well associating your worthy contributions with their school.”
HIGHLIGHT SKILLS AND GROWTH
It can also be helpful to discuss skills that you’ve developed through your past achievements and how these skills will help you contribute to the b-school and your future. And don’t shy away from sharing instances of failure.
“Use evidence to support your skill development by talking about how you’ve worked to build your skill set (by taking a course or through work experience, etc.),” according to Accepted. “Analyze your success to reveal that you are a thinking, growing, dynamic individual. And when asked about failures or setbacks, discuss what you learned from the tough times. Demonstrate a growth mindset.”
CONNECT IT TO THE SCHOOL
You’ll want to discuss your achievements and what skills you can bring to the table, but experts say it’s also important to tie it back to the school and explain how this specific MBA can help you and the b-school you’re applying to.
“Highlight any overlaps in the ethos of the school or the course curriculum that will advance your skills in the future,” according to Accepted. “And it works both ways: point out that just as the school helps further your skills, you as one of their contributing alumni become a future ambassador for their school.”
Tips For Customizing Your MBA Applications
Most MBA applicants apply to a number of schools including reach, target, and safety schools.
In fact, experts even recommend applicants to apply to roughly four to six schools.
Writing multiple essays for different applications can be tedious. Often applicants will find a way to write the same essay but simply swap out the names of the schools.
Experts say this strategy won’t get you anywhere.
Amy Hugo, an Expert Coach at Fortuna Admissions and former manager of admissions and recruitment at London Business School, recently discussed why simply copying and pasting an essay won’t cut it and how applicants can actually customize their essay for each school that they’re applying.
“What’s essential in crafting each application is making each school believe that they’re your first choice,” Hugo writes. “Of course, programs know that you’re applying to other programs – they expect that and it’s a sensible thing to do. But to win their acceptance, show them the love. This means going the extra mile to prove you understand a school’s unique culture and values, and that you’ve given considered thought both to how you’ll contribute to their community what you hope to gain from it.”
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Hugo stresses the importance of doing your research when it comes to each school.
This means going beyond what’s simply listed on the website but really looking for the differentiators in what makes each school valuable.
“This level of awareness and detail can and should come across in your application,” Hugo writes. “Cite specifics that are relevant to your career vision and goals – specializations, electives, clubs and the myriad of opportunities that will be available to you.”
It can also be helpful to build meaningful connections with people in your target b-school community.
Hugo recommends that applicants reach out to students and alumni or even asking the admissions team to put you in touch with someone so you can learn more about the program.
“As you do, ask intelligent questions that help you learn what the school cares about and what it’s looking for in new members of its community,” Hugo writes. “It really shows when someone has spoken with alumni and students, and you can even drop names in your application.”
HELP YOUR RECOMMENDERS HELP YOU
Recommendations are an integral part of the MBA application. Thus, Hugo recommends applicants to brief their recommenders on their application for a specific school.
“Meet with your recommenders and talk to them about your vision, your goals and how this program in particular is going to help you take the next leap in your career,” Hugo writes. “This important groundwork will allow your recommenders to include specific snippets that might resonate with your school in their recommendation letter.”
Read more tips here.