Planning to Study MBA? This is What You Need to Consider

Studying for an MBA requires huge investment in Money, time, and effort. You should expect to give up doing so many things that you used to do before you are enrolled to the MBA.
Most likely,  you will be spending less time with your family and friends, you will have less hours available for a good sleep, and your readings will almost be limited to MBA-related materials (text books, journals, articles, etc.).
Generally, your life style during the life of the MBA program will be different from how it previously used to be.

Therefore, this decision is a critical one that you will need to carefully think about. The value you are expecting to get out of the MBA should surpass all these costs.

In this article, I will share with you important tips that will help you make a better decision, by addressing two main questions:
1. Is MBA right for you, is this the right time?
2. If the answer to the first question is “yes”, how can you select the University, and the right MBA program?
Please keep in mind that the final decision will be different from one person to another, depending on the current position and future plans. Hence, I will not mention any specific Universities or MBA programs, and I will not make any suggestions.

Is MBA right for you? Is this the right time?
These are important questions. In a way or another, everyone should have career aspirations. These usually relate to where one would like to be (career wise) in the short, medium, and long terms. It is important to structure these aspirations into clear career objectives, then make career plans that will help us achieve these objectives.
Based on your career objectives, and your current position, you have to ask yourself whether MBA will help you achieve them or not.

Usually, MBA programs are sought for several reasons. These include:
Entrepreneurship
You may have an idea that you think it can be converted into a saleable and profitable product (a good or service), but you do not know how to do this. An MBA is a very good way that can help in this by providing structured models and tools that are relevant for starting and running a business.
Career Progression
Entry level positions require more focus on technical skills, and are usually characterized by more involvement in day-to-day operations. Higher positions require more focus on soft skills and are characterized by more involvement in strategic and medium/long term decisions.
So if you are in a high managerial position, or you are advancing through your organization’s career ladder and want to support your career progression, MBA is a relevant option.
Other reasons
MBA may be sought for other reasons. These include adding an international dimension to your career, by enrolling to a program in a geography different from the one the candidate is currently located.

Based on the above, depending on your current position, you should be able to decide whether the MBA will help you  move to your desired one.

Now moving to the second question.

Criteria for Selecting which MBA Program and University to Enroll to
Assuming that you have decided that MBA is right for you. The next step is to research for which MBA program and which university to join.
There are many options available.
How to Select the MBA Program
There are many things to consider here. First, full-time vs part-time programs. Full-time MBA programs require much more time and effort, where most probably you will have to quit your job, and therefore, you will need more financial support. Part-time programs provide more flexibility, and you can manage the balance between working and studying.
One more thing to consider is online programs, where there is no need to travel or attend any lectures. But you will need to manage your study schedule very well. Additionally, there are many programs available that provide blended learning, where it includes both online learning while you will have to attend some lectures every couple of months. This is an excellent option for those seeking flexible programs that include online learning, but also provide the opportunity to attend lectures where you can meet your tutors and colleagues.
An important thing to consider as well is accreditation. The more accreditation a program gets the higher it is ranked.
Now it is time to talk about one of the most important factors impacting your decision, which is the costs. There are really expensive MBA programs out there, and there are many others that are relatively cheap. Whatever your decision is, do not forget that you are after the return on investment that you are expecting to get from the MBA. If it is a very expensive one but you are not expecting to get the value you want, then it is not worth it. But that does not mean to seek for less costly programs just for the sake of saving money.
How to Select the University
First, you need to decide whether you are willing to relocate or travel or not. If the university is located in another country, you may need to relocate, or at least travel in case the program is a blended learning part-time one.
Moreover, you will need to take a look at the rankings that are published annually (e.g. Financial Times), and consider the reputation of the university.
For both of the MBA program and the university, it is highly recommended that you reach out for MBAs and MBA candidates, and ask them about their feedback and any information that you see relevant.

A Final Note
Always remember that you are not looking for just three letters to add after your name (MBA), but the value added that you are expecting to gain out of the MBA program is what you should pay attention to.

Good luck.

Written by: Hattem AlHajery, CMA, CDIF, and MBA candidate.

Learning and Online Technology

The revolution in online technology and social media is strongly impacting every aspect of our lives. Education is not an exception.

To a certain extent, educational institutions are striving to cope with these technological advancements, by applying the relevant tools to their learning activities. Yet, there still is a long way for them to go.

Many universities, and other educational institutions, started partially replace their conventional classroom (face-to-face) learning activities with online learning management systems “LMS” technologies.
Applying these closed systems to the educational process has many benefits, including:
– Flexibility; as instructors can provide the learning materials in different formats for only once, which students can repetitively access at whenever time they find appropriate, from anywhere.
– Facilitated Collaboration; between instructors and students, as well as among students.
– Efficient students database management; including evaluations, assignments, and progress.
– Controlled environment; since these systems are closed, access is restricted only to instructors and enrolled students.
– Security: since access to the LMS is controlled, students are protected from being bullied by the public internet users. Also access of students is controlled so they are not exposed to inappropriate materials.
– Availability of technology support.

In recent years, social media has grown rapidly, in many forms (including social networking, blogs, and multimedia sharing). Uses of these platforms have developed widely extending to a variety of areas, including education.

The introduction of open social media as a learning tool has revolutionized the education process. Learning through these open platforms has the following benefits:
– Improved Communication
– Ease of access to information
– Large population involved in the learning process
– High flexibility
– Students are already familiar with social media
– Cost Efficiency
Yet, there are still some risks and limitations associated with using open social media in the education process, including:
– Threats to privacy; noting that this can be monitored and controlled to some extent by adjusting the privacy settings of the tools used.
– Access to inappropriate materials; where students may be exposed to materials not appropriate to their age.
– Poor management of assignments and students evaluation.
– Lack of sufficient support.

Some institutions have applied the concept of blended learning, where both closed LMS and open social media tools may be combined into the educational process along with face-to-face learning. The best combination is contingent to the learning needs, and varies from one situation to another.

Given the benefits and risks associated with applying both systems, educational institutions and instructors have to realize that the existence of social media as a learning tool is a fact that they need to accept and cope with. Students are already using social media any way, which constitutes a significant part of their lives.

More research is needed to achieve the best results from using social media platforms as learning tools.

Written by:
Hattem AlHajery, CMA.