Education as we know it has changed drastically in the last decade. An increasing number of students now prefer to study online because of the lucrative benefits online education provides – but the story of online education is not entirely as it seems. While online education does provide potential students a chance to study at their own pace and an opportunity to study at a lower cost, it also takes away the learning experience of a traditional, brick-and-mortar classroom.
Believe it or not, in trying times like these, over fifteen percent of graduates are now considering getting an online MBA, as opposed to getting one the traditional way. But is getting an online MBA the right decision? Before we answer that question, let’s take a look at the bigger picture. Why did the global education system feel the need to have an online presence? And was going online a beneficial decision?
Why Did We Feel the Need to Go Online?
Nowadays, the way we perceive education has changed massively. Expecting questions when you talk about your degree like: “Did you get your degree online?” or “Was it a hybrid learning experience?” weren’t even a possibility two decades ago, but thanks to high-speed internet and expensive higher education, we were introduced to the concept of online education.
Online education felt like more of a need rather than a want when it was introduced to us in the late 1990s. But back then, the situations surrounding an online degree weren’t optimal (lower bandwidths, lack of people to vouch for it); hence people hesitated to be associated with the online learning experience.
But in 2020, two decades later – online is the way to go. Now that being physically present in the classroom isn’t a necessity, we’ve been exposed to a plethora of opportunities that weren’t previously available to us. Stringent and robust educational systems of the past didn’t give students the flexibility an online degree provides.
College graduates, for example, have the ability and the paperwork to land an excellent job because they have appropriate accreditations – but that is not where some graduates end their learning experience. An increasing number of graduates now want to get an MBA, but their tight schedule does not allow them to do so. Even if a graduate chooses to enroll in a weekend MBA program, it can be tough to juggle between work and college, since both require you to be physically present.
An online MBA, in this situation, is a viable option. Because you’re studying online and you can choose to study at a pace that is suited to your lifestyle, everything seems very easy. But with that being said, getting an online MBA can have its drawbacks.
The Pros of an Online MBA
Same Education Different Format
While the mode of delivery is vastly different, the curriculum is exactly what any student would learn in a typical traditional classroom. In other words, you will get the same education that you would get in a classroom, but more conveniently. According to an online education administrator in the US, when you’re free from the confinement of a traditional classroom, you learn a lot better and a lot quicker.
One prominent reason online MBA students perform better in corporate settings is because they can apply their learning immediately after a class in their working space. While traditional students have to complete their degree before they can see, let alone try, realistic applications of the concepts they’ve studied in the classroom.
In a traditional MBA program, there’s a limited amount of flexibility the student has. Classes are taken at a pre-set time, and a student has to make it to that class by hook or by crook. Unfortunately, these strict policies can make things difficult for a non-conventional student. While rules and regulations do ensure discipline and teach students the importance of time management, they also ignore the importance of education for students that prefer to study in a non-conventional way.
In an online classroom, students can choose to study at their own pace. When you’re studying online, you can choose to complete your online MBA in 5 years, or 18 months.
Up until two decades ago, online MBAs were stigmatized by employers and students. Because there weren’t many people to vouch for the online learning experience, not many people were prepared to take the “risk” of studying online. Would it be as effective as a traditional degree? Would it get me a job? The concerns were genuine, but nowadays, an online MBA from a reputable institute has the same credibility compared to the degree that was acquired on-site.
Online MBA students are more tech-savvy than traditional students, and there’s no doubt that their degree has the same value as a traditional MBA degree.
The Cons of an Online MBA
No Opportunity for Interaction
Any business graduate will tell you that business school was more about the people they were with rather than the education they received. As much as online MBAs are liberating, they also confine you to a single room. You don’t have the opportunity to interact with new people, and you don’t get to expand your network.
The business world has time and time again stressed the importance of having a big, strong network full of people with distinct backgrounds.
It Can Take Longer
While traditional MBA programs can be completed in less than a year, online MBAs can take longer. This can be particularly true if you have to juggle constantly between work and your degree. While a shorter MBA program may be a choice that doesn’t hurt your wallet too much, will it truly give you the knowledge you need to become a business leader?
A shorter degree kills the purpose of an MBA degree. An MBA degree is the last degree for many people, and hence, after their degree, they consider themselves ready to take on the world. Rightly so, they should be able to achieve the latter, but if you don’t give your MBA the attention it deserves, you’re wasting your money and your time.