Two Views, One Business School: UF’s Warrington College of Business
I once had a finance professor who immediately replied to a late email I had regarding an assignment due within a few hours. The care, attention, and no-judgment type of environment were welcoming for me—especially since I was not a conventional on-campus student.
Hayley Pierre, Graduate of UF MBA Online Program
Making the decision to get an MBA is easy: graduates generally double their salary, a statistic that holds even in a severe economic recession. But where to get the MBA is a much more complicated decision. And, with the advent of better online MBA programs, the number of choices has effectively doubled. You not only have to decide where to get your MBA but also in which format.
The old school way of thought suggests that recent college graduates should attend on-campus MBA programs and fully-employed mid-career professionals should take the online option. But these days, on-campus programs also have part-time options for working professionals. And online programs allow recent graduates to attend a top MBA program without needing to relocate their lives. Forget the old school stereotypes: a school’s MBA program—whether on-campus or online—can cater to a wide spectrum of personal contexts.
Consider the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. Their on-campus MBA jumped nine spots last year to make it to the top 25 in the nation. It also ranks in the top ten public schools. Meanwhile, the online MBA is ranked by US News & World Report as one of the top five in the nation and Warrington grads enjoy an excellent return on investment for their efforts.
No matter which type of MBA you decide to pursue at Warrington, it can prove a career-changing decision. But which format is optimal for you? Read on to get perspectives from two Warrington MBA alumni: one on-campus and one online.
The On-Campus View of UF Warrington: Katherine O’Hara
Katherine O’Hara is used to making tough decisions. She worked in the federal government for six years, including a stint as a leadership analyst for an intelligence organization, before making the decision to change her career trajectory. She knew she wanted to make the jump to the private sector, but wasn’t sure exactly where to aim. After exhaustive research, she decided she wanted a small, high-touch, in-person MBA program that could help smooth her transition.
“Warrington’s two-year traditional program was the perfect fit for me,” she says. “I was able to take the time that I needed to learn, to grow, and to decide what I wanted to do longer term. I was able to bond with my cohort and take advantage of the resources that come with the broader UF community. Additionally, by being in the two-year traditional program, I was awarded a significant scholarship that reduced my debt burden to nothing. This return on investment was very important to me as I wanted to be able to select a career that would make me happy, not just one I needed to pay back my loan debt.”
O’Hara wasn’t the type to sit quietly at the back of the class. As a first-year student, she was on the team that represented UF at the SEC MBA case competition, where they placed first. She went on to serve as president of the Women in Business Association, coordinator for student career coaches, and an admissions ambassador.
“I am incredibly happy with my decision to complete and pursue a traditional, on-campus option,” she says. “For me, taking the time to focus on myself and my career felt like an investment in my future. Coming from a non-traditional background, I felt like I needed that time and that hands-on guidance.”
In the end, her research paid off, and Warrington helped her find her current career as a strategy consultant for Accenture.
“The on-campus program was exactly what I needed, and the experiences I had during my MBA continue to shape my success today,” she says. “For anyone making the difficult decision of how to pursue their graduate education, I will say that it is critical to know why you are making the decision and what you hope to get from it. This self-reflection will greatly influence whether you want to pursue an online program, on-campus program, or something else entirely. The amazing thing is that a school like Warrington has an option for everyone. Go Gators!”
The Online View of UF Warrington: Hayley Pierre
Hayley Pierre is a South Florida native who left for DC to work as a legislative law clerk in the U.S. Senate, but she never let go of the idea of Florida. After spending a significant chunk of her time on commerce issues, she found an opportunity to work in the consumer product sector and went looking for an MBA at UF.
“An online MBA fit appropriately with my busy work schedule, and planning for a traditional MBA program was not a financially wise decision for me at the time,” she says. “It’s a big commitment to ask a full-time experienced professional to scale their income to become a full-time student.”
The online MBA gave Pierre the flexibility to continue working in her career. That meant she’d graduate with more work experience than some on-campus students, but it also meant an intense 27 months of constantly juggling work, school, family, and social demands. While she admits that, at times, she found herself practically pulling her hair out trying to make it all work, she credits her classmates for pulling her through.
“I was privileged to have a group that made assignments and studying for exams sustainable,” she says. “My core group was made up of engaging, responsive, and bright students who collaboratively worked to be successful from term to term. In business school, there are a ton of group assignments, so it’s important to find peers that mesh well and can deliver strong performances. I had that!”
Despite the intensity, Pierre wasn’t satisfied with simply doing the minimum. While pursuing her MBA, she worked with the school’s Business Career Services, added on a marketing concentration, traveled on a Global Immersion Experience to Finland, and still maintained an excellent academic record. Modestly, Pierre gives her professors a healthy dose of the credit.
“These online professors are not new to the game,” she says. “They understand the intricacies of this academic journey and helped to stay above the trends with online teachings. I found my professors to be online to help answer questions, provide feedback, or check in on our well-being. I once had a finance professor who immediately replied to a late email I had regarding an assignment due within a few hours. The care, attention, and no-judgment type of environment were welcoming for me—especially since I was not a conventional on-campus student.”
In Pierre’s view, the online MBA program at Warrington can match any traditional on-campus one. Warrington has imbued her with newfound confidence and given her resume a boost of name-recognition at the same time. After interviewing with numerous Fortune 100 companies who were interested in her affiliation with Warrington, Pierre took a job as a consultant for Deloitte.
“It’s a tough program, with the expectation that you will learn new tools and skills for any industry, not just in business,” Pierre says, in her words of advice to potential online MBA students at Warrington. “But more than anything, I believe that this MBA program will boost your confidence to aim for goals beyond the box.”