I'm about half way through my MBA from Columbia Southern University. Other than the networking opportunities, would there be any benefit to switching to a larger brick/mortar university? My military tuition is covering 100% of my current degree.
James, I would say that it really depends on the individual and their needs. I have a degree from an online university and one from a brick-and-mortar. Both suited my needs at the time I was enrolled.
I completed my B.A. while I was still working for the USAF and volunteering for deployments; a brick-and-mortar would have had a more difficult time accommodating my 7-day, 12-hours a day schedule from halfway around the world.
My MBA was delivered by a brick-and-mortar where my attendance was every other Friday-Saturday for 8 hours. I still had plenty of work to do at night, and the in-person schedule allowed me to arrange my regular work schedule to not miss any work or take leave.
I would say that you may get some better services from a brick-and-mortar in the areas of career consultation/placement services as well as alumni networks, but I would echo Heather's comments above: I think the gap may be closing.
If you're worried about tuition or military support systems, I would think that is a wash when comparing the two. Most schools are very attuned to handling GI Bill or other military tuition options with little variance.
One difference you might consider is the personal experience. I had little to no interaction with my online professors, but I had regular conversations, face-to-face and virtually, with my brick-and-mortar professors. They were more available, it seemed. Likewise, that relates to the interaction with other students. Online, interaction was limited to commenting on someone else's posts. In contrast, hearing other's stories, their questions about the lectures, and working on group projects made for a much more enriching experience. I learned how the business principles would apply in banking, accounting, government service, human resources, sales, and consulting to name a few; I don't believe I could have got that part of the education from an online degree program.
Does the name of the school on the degree matter? It may, but it is really going to come down to whether or not you can display the skills that were supposed to come with the degree. If you don't do the work, or the professors don't deliver the lessons well enough for them to resonate, you're in trouble out in the field.
I agree with Heather that changing would not be prudent at this time. I would suggest you look at the college administration for their placement capabilities. Also, get in the alumni database and start networking with alums in the cities you are looking at going after graduation for internships and/or part time telecommute work. Also, check out the websites for the economic development departments in the cities you are interested in as they usually list their top employers. Network with those companies as well.
Greetings from pinehurst! And the short answer to your question is no. The future of brick and mortar schools is uncertain at this point and most students are receiving the same experience and benefits as online students. I have helped about a dozen military members and military spouses understand the TRUE cost of taking time off work and attending school and when you factor in the time value of your tuition money and the opportunity cost of the time spent on campus you end up with minimal upside over attending an online university.
As for the networking opportunities, this thinking is partly (though not totally) outdated. Yes university talent pipelines still exist and they can be valuable but there are just as many military talent pipelines that provide similar benefits without the tuition bill. In my opinion, especially now with folks working from home and more responsive to electronic communications, an afternoon spent reaching out to key people on LinkedIn is a viable way to jump start any networking goal.
One of the networking advantages of any school, after graduation, is the strength of the Alumni Association. See if you can find out anything about your school's Alumni Association as it aligns with other schools. Stanford grads tend to hire Stanford grads. Harvard grads the same. Texas A&M the same. What companies seem weighted with grads from your school and are they companies you want to work for?
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