How One Student Juggled an Online MBA with Other Commitments

Pursuing an online MBA can drastically increase salary and employment opportunities, as it’s one of the most desirable credentials in the business world. Given the flexible and convenient nature of the online learning environment, online MBAs have become a popular option for working professionals who want to advance their careers.

If you’re considering an online MBA, you might be wondering how it works and how you’d manage studying with your work and personal schedules. To get a closer look at what it’s like, we interviewed Andrea Rohrer, a paid search analyst who has decided to go back to school and is currently earning her online MBA.

1. Which program are you enrolled in (school, degree name)?

I’m enrolled in the online MBA at Concordia University, St. Paul.

2. What is the duration of your program?

Program length is 24 months. I’ll be graduating next month, May 2019.

3. How does the program work in the online environment?

The program is setup in a cohort model with 7-week sessions per course and a class, WebEx, every 2 weeks.

4. What caused you to pursue your degree online?

I decided to pursue an online degree because of the partnership (my employer has with the university), and also that it added an extra level of flexibility. I would have been so much more stressed the last two years if I had to build in travel time to campuses for a ground program.


5. What is the benefit of getting your business degree online?


6. What are the greatest challenges you face in your online business program?

The greatest challenge for me was staying emotionally balanced. It’s easy to get caught up in stress and start to neglect personal relationships. I tried not to do that by checking in regularly with friends and family. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s time to stay in touch and meet obligations, but it’s better for (your) emotional well-being to try.

7. What are your favorite courses you have taken in your online degree thus far?

Topics in Global Management. As an undergraduate I was a business major with an international business minor. I think it’s really important, especially when working for a global company, to remember other cultures conduct business differently. There (are) different cultural expectations, and this course addresses them. Also, the final project was to write a plan for starting a business in a foreign country, which was both useful and fun!

8. How do you manage a full-time career and school?

Work-life balance! Working and going to school is a lot. There are always deadlines and the accompanying stress. I’ve made sure to find time to do things like practice yoga and go to spin classes as “me time.” Spending time with animals is a big de-stressor for me, so I also started volunteering at a cat shelter. You can’t just ignore your emotional well-being for two whole years. I had to find ways to reward myself.   

9. How many hours do you spend on homework a week?

(It) has varied a lot. This is my last semester, and I’m spending 12-18 hours a week trying to get my final portfolio complete. In other semesters, I’d estimate 8-10.

10. What kind of support is available to you as an online student?

The academic advising team (at Concordia, St. Paul) has supported me throughout the program, reminding me to register and answering any questions I had outside of the curriculum.

11. What kind of skills should an online learner have?

Self-motivation and emotional management. I feel like ‘time management’ is talked about a lot as a requirement for online degrees, but I think emotional management has been more important for me. Being blunt, it gets stressful. Courses are only 7 weeks, and there’s due dates every single week. It’s been important to me to have self-motivation to get papers done on time and emotional management to balance the stress.

12. What advice would you give to a person debating getting their business degree online?

I’d advise (you) to be seriously introspective about what you want to get out of your career. If you’re thinking “I want an MBA just to say I have one,” I’d advise to find a better source of motivation. If you want to learn to be a better leader and gain higher-level strategic thinking abilities, then I’d suggest pursuing the degree.

13. What makes your degree program unique?

The faculty is seasoned and has years of experience in their designated fields. They were always available if I needed them. Also, the final project for the MBA, the managerial application portfolio, is a project that spans the entire length of the program. Upon graduation a student should be able to present their portfolio, bio, and industry analysis as justification for a promotion.

14. What are your professional goals for the future?

To move into a marketing manager position sometime in the near future.

The Flexibility of Online MBAs

Business professionals like Andrea Rohrer are taking advantage of online education for earning their MBAs. As one of the most versatile and desirable degrees in business, it’s a powerful option for advancing business professionals’ careers. Online MBAs allow learners to achieve their goals without time-consuming commuting to a traditional college or university. Instead, students can learn when and where they want to, without sacrificing family and work responsibilities.

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