Flexibility, Networking, Quality Content: Student Podcast Details Favorite Aspects of the Ross Online MBA Program
By Brandon Manson, OMBA '22
As a member of the inaugural 2019 cohort of the Michigan Ross Online MBA program, the past year has been a roller coaster.
I restarted my academic career with accounting, a subject I had never had previous exposure to. Then I promptly started asynchronous coursework for a rigorous statistics course in a hotel room in India during a work trip. Several months later the world shut down because of COVID-19. As a result, the entire university abruptly went remote, and I found myself unable to take summer classes due to my employer suspending our tuition assistance program.
A year after beginning one of the most exciting and strenuous experiences of my life, I was afforded the opportunity to reflect upon it during Episode 305 of the Working for the Weekend podcast. I was joined by several other OMBA students – fellow second-years Jessie Vanderveen and Andrew Green, and first-year Christopher Dye – as well as Wally Hopp, faculty director of the Online MBA Program and C.K. Prahalad Distinguished University Professor at Michigan Ross.
It was an enlightening conversation that highlighted why Ross’ OMBA program was not only the right fit for us current OMBAs, but also why it should be a top consideration for all professionals thinking about pursuing MBAs in the future. Here are some key takeaways:
This is the primary theme that emerged throughout the conversation. Our program is defined by its reliance on self-led, asynchronous coursework. This allows students like Jessie, a resident of Reykjavik, Iceland and a mother of two with a stressful job, the flexibility to work on schoolwork as her schedule allows. And, with most classes offering a 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. section (Eastern time), it allows West Coast residents like Andrew the ability to attend class after work.
These benefits are not by coincidence, however. The online format took several years to develop, and took into consideration feedback from other part-time MBA students, as well as market trends, says Professor Hopp. We’ve seen the growing demand and comfort level for such flexibility and self-paced learning spike in 2020, and Ross is at the forefront of being able to service that demand.
To meet demand while offering a top-tier MBA experience, requires that content be delivered in a world-class fashion. This is a Ross MBA, after all. Professor Hopp tells us that Ross invested a significant amount in building out a state-of-the-art studio and production team to ensure that content for the OMBA program is produced with unrivaled quality. As someone who used to produce educational video content professionally, I can attest that I never cease to be amazed by the quality of it. It is truly world-class and should be the standard for all online MBA programs.
In contrast, networking has proven to be the most difficult challenge to overcome. With the virtual nature of the program, many of us struggled to feel connected to each other and to the university. That is, until I had the chance to come to campus for the inaugural leadership residency in January 2020, where I spent a great deal of time with a large portion of my cohort on campus. The pandemic has thrown a wrench even into those experiences.. However, based on the conversation in this episode, it’s clear that Wally and the Online MBA team, along with the OMBA board, are working on new ways of improving networking for students.
It was a treat to be able to sit down for 45 minutes with such a diverse group of people and talk about what our individual perspectives have been in the OMBA program. It’s clear that there are many shared experiences that we enjoy, but it was fascinating to hear each individual’s story about where they came from and why they chose Ross. If you’re at all interested in pursuing your MBA or are curious about what a natively virtual MBA experience is like, I think you’ll get a lot out of this episode!
Working for the Weekend is Michigan Ross' part time MBA podcast for current or prospective students and alumni. Join weekend, evening, and online MBAs as they discuss balancing school and work; getting the most value out of a Ross degree; and maintaining wellbeing on a full schedule. Season three had a special focus on life as a virtual MBA. From attending classes and class socials over zoom to which companies are recruiting on-campus right now, listen along as students and faculty weigh in. Find Working for the Weekend on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @rosswftwpod.