In August, I completed my Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with the University of Phoenix Online. I’m putting together a series about the entire experience.
When I started working for my current employer in 2002, I decided to take advantage of the practically free education they were offering, 90% reimbursement for any work-related classes passed. (Later on, the conditions for 90% reimbursement changed to only courses passed with a “C” average or above.) The MBA seemed to be a good fit for me, and the curriculum would be general enough for me to take it with me wherever I end up going — and whatever I end up doing — in the long run. But what about the “online” component?
As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware in 1998, I had my first experience with online learning. I took a 600-level course, “Multimedia Literacy,” with the professor who developed the distance learning system for the University. This system was one of the first envinronments to incorporate learning over the internet. When considering schools for my graduate degree, I was — and still am — convinced the internet will be a great tool for distance education. The technology wasn’t perfect yet, as I would find out later, but I had heard good things from reliable sources about the University of Phoenix’s online program.
Back to my current company in 2003, I had many different commitments competing for my attention, and I liked the idea of not having to travel to a classroom. It was never a question that I would be comfortable with an online learning environment. After all, I had been involved with the development of websites since 1994 and with the general internet since the latter part of the 1980s.
I didn’t see a need to go to a high-powered, top ten business school. I don’t love business. In fact, most of the time, I don’t even like business. I know people who make “business” their life, and I do not want to be one of them. I did not want to surround myself with people who live and breathe “business.” The University of Phoenix Online, who in 2003 wasn’t the spammer and pop-up ad king it became, was a good fit.
I did have a concern. The University of Phoenix is a for profit, public business, meaning they might put the needs of their shareholders ahead of the needs of their students. In reality, every school has this attitude to varying extents. They may not have shareholders per se, but universities must keep happy those who give money to fund laboratories, new construction, and competitive programs. All colleges must devise ways to generate as much money as possible, from alumni, benefactors, and students. No institute of higher education can function without finding ways to raise money.
In August 2003, I weighed my options and made the decision to attend the University of Phoenix Online, clearly the leader in online learning at the time. I began the admissions process, which I will write about in a following post.
This is Part 1 of a series about my experiences with the University of Phoenix Online. Here is what has been published so far.
- Part 1: The Decision
- Part 2: Admissions
- Part 3: Course Logistics
- Part 4: Curriculum
- Part 5: The Team Experience
Updated May 22, 2011 and originally published September 21, 2006.