No I'm Not Moving to Alabama and More Answers about my MBA Program

by - Friday, April 04, 2014

Ever since I posted last night on Facebook that I'm going to be starting an MBA program at Auburn University in the fall, I have gotten a million questions. (Apparently so has Emily, who has been fielding them and acting as my spokesperson...thanks Em.)

So let me clear up some of the mystery and confusion.

Are you moving to Alabama? (Asked in various tones of shock and dismay).

No. I'm not in fact moving to Alabama.

::Sighs of relief:: Oh good so how does this whole MBA thing work then?

Good question. Auburn offers a bunch of really flexible options with their MBA program, and the one that I selected is mainly virtual. So that means I'll do most of my coursework right here in DC and only go to Alabama a few times during the course of the program.

Oh that's kind of cool. So why did you pick Auburn and where else did you look?

I think the better question is where didn't I look.

Originally, I had my heart really set on the part-time MBA program at Maryland. The Smith School has a pretty great reputation, it's right in my backyard, and I seriously love all things Terps. I teach at the university, I have season tickets to football and basketball, I live and breath the black and gold. It just seemed to make sense.

So when I got in, I was pretty pumped. But then I started realistically looking at the financial picture and doing the math to see just how much I'd need to take out in student loans to make that happen. And then I wanted to cry.

So I tabled Maryland and started looking in to other programs in the D.C. area (GW, Georgetown, American). They all cost the same, so I started looking at other schools with really strong virtual programs -- Kelley at Indiana, UNC, UVA (that would have been a hard pill to swallow), Auburn, stuff up in Boston.

I swear for many, many weekends this fall and winter all I did was research business schools.

My decision to go with Auburn came down to a few things:
1. Flexibility - You can take as many or as few classes each semester as you want and if you need to take a semester off, that's totally OK as long as you finish the program within six years. Also, you can take the classes on your own schedule. Sure it's best to do them when they are live, but if you have another work commitment or something else, you can tune in later and get the same benefit. That was huge for me.

2. Time on Campus - You are only absolutely required to go to campus once at the end of the program to present on your capstone project, but you can and are encouraged to go more often. I like that you only have to go once. Some of the other programs I looked at required a lot more campus trips, which can really add up in the cost department. I'm sure I'll end up going to Auburn more than once, but I like that it's all on my terms.

3. Cost- This was a big one for me. Auburn costs $775 per credit. Most other programs I looked at cost anywhere from $1200-1500 per credit. I'm not trying to dig myself a massive hole of student debt here (in fact my mentor warned me very much so to not do that), so the money thing was definitely a big consideration for me.

Turning down Maryland was hard. Like really, really hard. But I'm so excited about the Auburn program. Plus SEC football! Whoo! War damn eagle!

Time out, I didn't even know you were thinking about doing your MBA. Where did all this come from?

Yea, I will admit, I've been pretty tight-lipped about it, but I've been thinking about it for a while now. I started briefly entertaining the idea a few years ago, but the thought of the GMAT at the time was enough to make me push it on the back burner.

But last spring, I got really serious about it. I signed up to take the GMAT and sat for it last June. I did about a week of prep work for that test. Rocked the verbal part, did crappy on the math because I haven't touched geometry since high school. So overall I did disgustingly average. I wasn't happy with my score but it was good enough to get me in where I wanted to go, and I guess that's all that mattered.

So I applied to places this fall and winter and now here we are.

I figure an MBA will be a nice thing to have in my quest for world domination. (Ha, I kid...sort of).

How in the hell are you going to have time for this? When are you going to sleep?

Ummm...right, I haven't quite figured that part out yet. So I'll still be working at my current full time job, and I will also be teaching my journalism class at Maryland two nights a week, and yes, now adding MBA coursework to that as well.

My plan is to take only one class this fall to get a handle on things. I know I'm going to be busy. But it's cool. I function best that way.

And I'm keeping my race calendar light in the fall. I've got a half marathon in early September, a 10 miler and 10K in October and a 10K in November. Basically after the half, all distances that I can do in my sleep without killing myself in training.

When will I see you?

Maryland tailgates. Buy your season tickets now. I think that might be my only free time.


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  1. Hooray for online programs! You can't beat the flexibility, and although I spend a fair amount of my free time doing school work, it's nice to be able to plan ahead if you need to.