Thursday, March 02, 2006

Full Time vs. Part Time MBA

Career Journal has posted an article about why a full-time MBA program "still rules with corporate recruiters." Given that I'm two semesters into a part-time MBA program, I thought I'd comment on some of the claims made in the article.

1) Full-time students' experience "mirrors the the consulting experience...they have been brainstorming and solving problems in teams with people who have different skills and different styles."

Personally, I have found this to be even MORE true in a part-time program. Not only do people have different skills and different styles, they have different career and industry experience. In my current finance group I have team members from the IT, Oil & Gas, and Investment Banking industries. This breadth of real world experience cannot be matched in a full-time program.

2) "The full-time M.B.A. is a much richer experience-as much about clubs, guest speakers, close interaction with classmates and professors, and networking with alumni as it is about the cirriculum."

First off - clubs? Welcome to something I like to call "undergraduate". If you didn't develop interpersonal skills and interact with classmates and professors as an undergraduate, chances are you won't as a graduate student, full- or part-time. Second, I do see some validity to this point which is why I believe that UT got this one right in their Houston MBA program. Classes are held at the Houstonian hotel, which includes a Friday night stay at the hotel. You can hit the bar, hit the town, or hit the books with classmates, professors, staff, etc. In addition, every fall semster begins with a week-long "intensive" in Austin. One look at the 2nd year classes during this week and you can definitly see the bonds formed between classmates as well as between students and staff.

3) "Full-time students... are immersed 12 to 16 hours a day."

True, but how much of that day is immersed in theory, and how much is directly related to their eventual real-world exposure. In my undergraduate days I was immersed - no make that drowned - in five semesters of calculus. Did that make me a better at my current job? Absolutely not.

Now if the argument here is about workload, I'm really going to have to disagree. Trying to balance a 10+ hour workday with 4+ hours of schoolwork and family committments is definitely more demanding than the good ol' days of just being a college student.

4) "Many go part-time just to get the three letters-M.B.A.-behind their name."

Tony Camilli M.B.A. - I think not. I pity the tool that actually tries to pull that one off.

5) Internet...

I pretty much agree with everything they've said about online programs, albeit they've been a little too harsh.

Overall, my biggest problem with the article weight that they give to surveys of recruiters - campus recruiters specifically. These are people who interview COLLEGE STUDENTS for a living. My personal opinion is that they simply don't know how to respond to early to mid-carreer interviewees who know as much, if not more, about a job than the interviewer. Also, as I expressed earlier, a key benefit to a part-time or executive program in the breadth of work experience in a class - and no, internships and co-ops don't compare. The fact that my classmates work at various companies, in various industries, in have worked in different countries adds a significant value the overall experience.


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