Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Penn State & Being Special

For anyone actually reading this blog and still deliberating on an online MBA, in addition to checking out the online program at Arizona State, I'd recommend checking out the online program at Penn State, if you haven't already. I've listed these and other schools in earlier posts, but I just happened to stumble back across PSU's page during some random web surfing tonight.

Other than their cost ($23K/yr) being in the similar neighborhood to ASU's ($19K/yr), the thing that jumped out at me is the effort they went to for convenience to the student - this was my big attraction to ASU over IU. In short, as with ASU, it's all rolled up into one nice neat little bundle - no books to buy elsewhere; no extra fees to pay; no registration; etc [source]. Of course, the program meets all the "main criteria". As best I can tell from the schedule, they run courses in parallel, as opposed to in series at ASU - this was a deciding factor between ASU and IU for me. Though this is somewhat limited research, and hasn't looked much at rankings, I think PSU has an excellent looking program due to its "total package" logistics.

To me, this "user-friendly" factor will be perhaps the biggest factor in the rankings of online programs, if ever they are officially ranked as a subset of the MBA marketplace. At the least, it will be a major comparison and decision point for serious students looking for quality online MBA programs. Schools offering online programs must not only sell the quality and reputation of their program, as they sell to traditional students, but they must also sell the "amenities". For traditional students, this means networking, a great city, stellar career services, and the like. For online students, this means knowing that "they are special, too" - That the online program isn't just an afterthought; that someone or many people at the school spend a considerable portion of their day worrying about the online needs; that it's recognized that working and schooling simultaneously isn't easy, and every possible convenience is made available.

This reminds me of a fairly recent furniture buying episode. The usual point in rehashing this would be to laugh at what an incessant niggler I can be when negotiating, but now it serves a higher calling! I was negotiating with the floor salesman on the price of a sofa that was on sale (yeah, yeah). I had already worked it down some; I was just working on another $50 or so. "It's already on sale; what else do you want?!", Bob asked. Thus I replied, "Well that just means everyone can get it for that price, Bob - I'm special! Make me feel special!" Easiest $50 I ever made. ;-)

Bottom line: For online MBA programs, it isn't enough to just be online anymore. The customer needs to know that they're special.


Anonymous said...

Do you have any thoughts on the online mba at the University of Florida?

dforester said...

I think it's a great consideration, especially if you're located in the South - E.g. I'm located in the South, and attending Arizona State - lots of folks in this area might not realize that ASU is a top 30-50 program, or worse, "You mean University of Phoenix?" However, that was a ... risk, or whatever you want to call it, that I was willing to accept. One question to ask yourself - What do you think of when you hear UF? What do others think?

I also believe it was one of the first online AACSB-accredited MBA's offered. Presumably, that would have allowed them plenty of trial-and-error time to get the kinks out of their program.

I think it requires a little more on-campus time than other programs (8 weekends, if I recall correctly), which may be good or bad for you - just a consideration.

It's ranked #42 by USNWR, which is quite a good ranking, I think. I couldn't speak for you how much you do (or don't) consider rankings, but Top 50 or so was important to me, so it's a winner there.

That's off the top real quick - It's getting late for a worknight for me, but I'll try to follow this up with a proper review in a day or two.

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

The top 50 ranking was a big selling point for me and I also checked out the ASU program and found it to be everything you have said it to be in your blogs. I was actually happy to run across your blog and have enjoyed looking at the process you went about when deciding the right school. I also agree that PSU is a good program worth a look. Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

I'm currently studying to obtain the iMBA from Penn State, and I can say that my experiences so far have been very positive! My group includes focused people from across the spectrum of business and government, and my classes have had superb instructors. The program is expensive, but, the way I figure, you get what you pay for and what you put into it. Penn State has a fine domestic/international reputation and is fully accredited by AACSB.


Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention in my last post that the Penn State iMBA has two residential components - one week at the 8 month point and one that includes final exams and graduation on campus...The first residency will involve us going to a company to analyze it, learn from its management team, and (perhaps) offer suggestions on how to improve operations! It's rather unique, but I love that about this program.

JJ said...

I'm also starting the PSU iMBA this January and you've inspired me to document my experience as well. It will be interesting to compare and contrast our experiences. We seem to have similar backgrounds. I have an undergrad degree in IE from Purdue, am 27 years old and work at a very large company in the Northwest.

So far, I've only started some of the administrative details (signing up for PSU account, etc.), but it's been a fairly easy process.

I've already received a pre-work book on accounting. PSU provides quizzes with explanations online. The pre-work isn't required, but we are told it is helpful preparation for the upcoming courses.

Anonymous said...

My spouse just completed an iMBA at PennState and boy was it hard work!!

I saw that even CPAs could not help some the Finance and Accounting work on the program.

Good program! I think it is well worth the $50K or so it cost!

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy with my Penn State iMBA...Since graduating, I've had multiple job offers in the D.C. area in both the fields of government and management consulting. I feel like it was well worth the investment!

Anonymous said...

does your degree say iMBA on it?
please email me answer : shortname9@yahoo.com