I started my MBA at the same school where I received my undergraduate degree. At the time, I did not feel as if I had a lot of options as far as school choices due to my undergrad GPA. During my undergrad years, I placed more value on life experiences than I did on doing my homework, which resulted in me having a less than stellar GPA.
When I chose to being an MBA program, I did so with the expectation the classes would prove to be challenging. A finance class was one of the first classes I took during my first semester as an MBA student. I eagerly signed up for the class as it was taught by the professor that is purportedly the best finance professor in the entire school. I was eager to soak up everything I possibly could from this class. By the third meeting of the finance class I was no longer under the illusion that I would be soaking up a lot of material, let alone anything of any value at all. It was in this meeting of the class that the professor announced that for the next few meetings of the class that we would be watching the Enron movie. This was the television movie, which incidentally is available for rental at Blockbuster for under $5.00. However, my graduate level MBA finance class was costing me around $800. Upon realizing that I was spending $800 to watch at $5 movie, I knew I needed to look for a new school as this program was not going to be challenging in any manner.
Knowing that my undergrad GPA was bordering on pathetic, I was a loss of where I could transfer into another program. I was a traditional school snob, but felt that the only place I could look was online schools. Online schools seem to have such a stigma about them that I expected to find no real answers in evaluating them.
The first thing I noticed about online programs was that the cost was more than double what I was paying at a traditional school. Most online schools seemed to charge an average price of around $1900 per class, whereas I was paying $800 for my current classes. I scrapped that idea and began looking for state schools that had online MBA programs and came across the Georgia Web MBA program. It was more in my cost range, however, seeing as how I was currently attending school in Tennessee I worried that a school in Georgia would have no more academic rigors than where I was currently attending. That put me back to looking at online schools.
I renewed my search of online schools by looking for reviews from others students, news articles on the schools, and I searched for the names of the schools with words like “scam” and “not accredited” to see if I got results. I got no hits on those searches other than learning how some students were unhappy with University of Phoenix classes, because the postings for the class are not done in real-time format. There seemed to be a virtual cornucopia of online schools providing MBA programs, each with something unique about them.
I knew that I needed to figure out what I wanted from an online program to make sure that I picked one that was the right fit for me. After my experience at a traditional school, I knew that I wanted to be challenged, that I wanted to finish up as soon as possible and that I wanted to actually get my money’s worth. However, I did not want to spend $2000 per class as it was not something that was financially feasible for me at the time. I also knew that I did not want to have to pick up any undergrad pre-reqs, which would have been necessary at a traditional school. I was also concerned about transferring the classes I had already taken. And finally, I wanted to make sure it would not be a useless degree from a school that would get me laughed out of every job interview.
In reviewing programs at Regis University, DeVry, University of Phoenix, Cardean Univiversity / Ellis College of NYIT, American Intercontinental, Strayer University, Capella University, and the Colorado State Distance MBA program I noticed that most schools did not allow you to transfer very many classes. However, Cardean University and Ellis College of NYIT allowed more than any of the other schools. Based on this sole reason, I chose Cardean University as my online school of choice. The price of classes was still to much for me, but I signed up for their mailing list and planned on saving up some money until I could begin classes there. A couple of months later I received an email from them regarding a special they were having, called ‘tuition grants,’ where new students that registered for a class by a certain date could get a discount on tuition and get their classes at $1250 each instead of the $1900. I eagerly sent out my application.
The application process was easy and I had an admissions representative that stayed in contact with me the entire time. I had to fill out an online application and have a phone interview where I had to discuss my career goals, what I wanted out of an MBA program and my undergrad studies, specifically the reason for my low GPA. After passing that stage, I was given an account login to test out a sample class to see if the program was something for me. The sample class was actually a copy of the class which would be my first class if I decided to register for classes with Cardean. From looking at the sample class, I could see that work was due on a weekly basis, which made sense considering that classes lasted only 6 weeks and new ones began every 3 weeks. It was also clear that the work would be both difficult and challenging. It was not surprising that the classes were challenging as Cardean is partnered with the Chicago School of Business, the London School of Economics and Columbia University. This means that all the classes were originally designed by faculty at these schools. At the time I was still enrolled in classes at my traditional school, but chose to go ahead and sign up for Cardean classes as well. I was excited to see that I could take as many classes at once as I could pay for and signed up for 2 classes.
At the time, I was taking an economics class at my traditional school, Middle Tennessee State University, which I also needed to sign up for at Cardean as they would only allow me to transfer classes which I had already completed. So, I was taking the exact same class in course name at both. The first week of the Cardean class covered everything I had been taught at my traditional school for the past 2 months. When I took the Cardean finance class, the difference was even greater between the two schools. Most of the classes that I took through Cardean were developed by the Chicago School of Business, which was voted as the best business school in America by Business Week in October of 2006. Columbia ranked #10 on that same list.
I recently finished up my MBA at Cardean as they were joining with Ellis College of NYIT to offer a joint degree program. Cardean students are now given the option of what school they want listed on their diploma, which may be appealing to some people as Ellis College of NYIT has a brick-and-mortar location in New York. I feel like I not only got a great, challenging education, but that I got a real steal since most of my classes came from the #1 ranked Chicago School of Business without me having to pay that steep tuition. There are times when I go into job interviews and have recruiters snarl their noses when they learn that my degree is from an online school. However, once I tell them that the classes came from the Chicago School of Business, their reaction is a bit more positive.