Legendary UNC-Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith first coined the words “The Carolina Way” to reflect the spirit of the university. The Carolina Way means something slightly different to every Carolina student and alum, but underpinning every definition is a belief in excellence. This excellence drew me to Carolina as both an undergrad and graduate student, and it’s what attracts so many students from around the world.
I decided to pursue an MBA because my responsibilities and oversight in the IT project management arena escalated, as did the necessity for integrating other functions across the business. I sought the managerial competence to ensure our technology priorities met the far-reaching needs of the organization as a whole. While I felt highly confident within the confines of my IT world, I lacked the business knowledge to advocate effectively at a broader, visionary level.
As I began the MBA@UNC program, I received questions from colleagues, friends and mentors. They had a lot of interest in the online format, the integrity of the degree, and the time and financial commitment. When they asked why I picked MBA@UNC, my answer was, “I would have liked to quit my job and go to Stanford full time, but that just wasn’t a reality, so I picked the best school that had the accessibility I needed.”
My first year in the MBA@UNC program has been incredibly enlightening. In my last post, I reflected on some things I wish I had known going in to the program. Reevaluating my notions of time management, rallying the support of my friends and family and opening my mind to new learning experiences made this first year a positive one.
But what about learning in the online classroom? For many of us, this is the most significant change from how we’ve attended class in the past. Here are some things to keep in mind as you approach MBA@UNC’s online learning platform.
The other day it dawned on me that I am more than halfway through the MBA@UNC program. With this realization, I mostly felt relief that I have managed to make it this far, but I also felt a sense of nostalgia for the unfettered optimism and enthusiasm with which I began my studies. Though my optimism and enthusiasm remain, I can admit that the first year of MBA@UNC—as with any MBA program—is difficult. When I look back, I realize that I can offer a few tips that will make the first year in MBA@UNC just a little bit easier.
MBA@UNC has made every effort to ensure that nothing is lost in the online format; the program requires students to meet with their professor and 10 to 15 of their classmates in a virtual classroom. Just as they do in a physical classroom, UNC professors lead a discussion of the problems or cases relating to the latest lecture. Though they are virtual rooms, classes feel more like sitting in a circle with your professor in the quad, where everyone is visible and expected to participate.
“What are you hoping to get from this program?”
Every 12 weeks a new professor asks me this question. My answer has evolved a bit since last summer, but here’s an explanation of how I got here and where I’m headed.
Now that I am in the program I read the various news articles on online MBA programs out of curiosity, and I chose to contribute to this blog to show others what life was like in the MBA@UNC program as well as help dispel any myths about the online experience. That said, an article featured in the FINS section of last week’s Wall Street Journal on “The Downside and Upside of an Online MBA” by Beecher Tuttle led me to believe that perhaps our student blogs do not do enough to accurately portray student life in this program.
Who would ever think that a tech Giant like Google could be compared to a drug and rehabilitation facility? Although disparate in their mission, size-, and structure, I learned that you can connect the dots in the most unlikely places. This was just one of many takeaways from our recent Immersion Weekend in San Francisco.
What binds us to Carolina most immediately – especially for those who haven’t spent time on campus and fallen in love with its charm – is our allegiance to the University in the classic battle that occurs during basketball season. The classic battle that pits good against evil, better known as the UNC-Duke game.