A Time to Be Thankful

This week I want to list a few things that I’m thankful for, since it’s close to Thanksgiving.  As this week is a short week at OSU (and even shorter for some of you in the WPMBA program with optional classes), take a little bit of time to reflect on your quarter and things that you are thankful for.

I’m thankful for:

  • Being accepted in the WPMBA at Fisher.  This program has already been beneficial and the opportunities available are endless.  The people I have met, the classes I have taken and the information I have learned have all had an impact on me.
  • A great group for MBA 812.  A great group can make a project so much easier without the worry of a member not pulling their weight or being too overbearing.
  • A supportive husband, family, friends, and coworkers (and my grandma, who is my loyal blog reader.)  When participating in this or any other graduate program, having the support of your friends and family is crucial.  My support system helps me study, or knows when to leave me alone to study, and they understand I may not be able to hang out as much as I used too.
  • A flexible work schedule.  Because I work 1.5 hours away from campus, I’m usually leaving work early to head to class.  But with flexible time and the ability to do some of my work whenever I have computer access, I am grateful to be able to participate in the program and still work without stressing too much.

These are just a few things that I am thankful for.  As the quarter is winding down and final papers and examinations are right around the corner, take a few minutes and reflect on your quarter.  Thank those who have helped you throughout the quarter, whether it be group members, your professors, or your support system.   Happy Thanksgiving!

“How am I going to pay for this?” Part 2

Well…with comments again this week, I will try to continue this topic to the best of my ability.  Financial assistance is a huge topic and a major consideration when furthering your education.  My summary last week was to give a brief overview without scaring off potential students.

When you have decided that you want to start any sort of degree, it’s important to first create a spreadsheet of your monthly living expenses.  List out your mortgage/rent, utilities, credit card bills, income, and other money you receive or spend throughout the month.  This can be a real eye opener for some.  Complete this spreadsheet for several months so you can get a good average of how much you are netting in profits each month.  Can you add monthly, quarterly or annual bills of tuition, books, travel costs, or parking passes?  Are there trade-offs in your costs?  If you make coffee at home each morning before work, the money you will save will pay for your books for at least a couple of quarters.

Many financial aid packages allow you to wait until you have completed your degree before you begin making payments.  Additionally, OSU does allow monthly payments through each quarter.  I would suggest each individual looking through the various financial aid options and determine what plan is best for them.   I have been very fortunate with paying for my education so far.  Post-secondary options, scholarships and wonderful parents paid for my undergraduate degree.  I work for OSU so I’m also receiving tuition assistance for this degree.

When you graduate from any graduate degree, you may not expect a pay raise right away.  Don’t assume getting an MBA will immediately gain you anything.  But if you are willing to change jobs or just job responsibilities, work harder, and have a positive attitude, you will find a career that will suit your education and goals.  Maybe not today, but down the road it will be worth the time, costs and effort you put into your education.

“How am I going to pay for this?”

Last week I had a comment on my post about financing your education.  That comment really deserves its own post.  When deciding any Master’s program, it is very important to factor in the big question of “How am I going to pay for this?”

Not all graduate programs are created equal in the costs.  And to my initial surprise, many online programs are just as, if not more expensive than tradition programs.  One of the online programs I had researched was $89,000 in tuition.  http://onlinemba.unc.edu.  Several of the factors include the length, location, and prestige of  the program.

When factoring in the costs and fees associated with starting a graduate program; don’t forget about the $250 fee of taking the GMAT (and the possible fees associated with purchasing study material for the GMAT), application fees, the fees associated with requesting transcripts for your applications, acceptance fees, travel costs, tuition and fees, parking passes, and of course, books and course material.

When searching for schools, speak with your employer (if you are employed) and see if there is any assistance available.  Some employers will pay for some or all of the fees associated with continuing your education.  That being said, there may be some stipulations to their assistance, such as only attending certain schools, or only taking classes online or on weekends.  This may narrow your search.  I am very fortunate to work for Ohio State which offers some tuition assistance.

If this is not an option, review your financial position and determine your next steps.  Financial aid is available as well as some programs do offer scholarships or loans.  Don’t let the costs and fees associated with furthering your education get you down, the benefits of your investment will outweigh the costs.

I want a Master’s Degree….now what?

One year ago, I decided it was time to get a master’s degree.  In the midst of planning my April wedding, working 40+ hours a week, helping with 4-H activities in my community, and the start of the busy holiday season, I thought I would add something else to my list.  So I began my search.  Here are my steps to figuring out what program to choose.

  1. Decide the focus area(s) you want to pursue a master’s degree.  Whether you want to continue the path that you are on currently or want to consider switching paths into a new field.  Sometimes a dual degree is an option.
  2. Determine how you want to go about obtaining your degree.  Will you attend school full-time? Will you be working full-time and want an evening, weekend, or online program?  This will begin to narrow your search.
  3. Begin searching for schools.  As a full-time student, you have virtually unlimited options (except cost) and could participate in a program across the globe.  A working professional has fewer options; evening or weekend programs have to consider travel time and work requirements but online opportunities are growing and may be a viable option.  Consider schools that are ranked nationally for their programs; potentially employers will view the strength of the program when looking to separate a stack of potential employees.  As a working professional, also speak with your employer to see if they provide any incentives for selecting one school over another or offer flex time when pursuing your degree.
  4. When you have decided on a few potential schools, take time to research the schools and programs.  Take a tour of the college/university (if it’s not an online program) and visit with faculty and staff.  Participate in information sessions about your program FYI – the next Fisher Working Professional MBA session is Tuesday, November 8th.)  Look up course schedules, email professors for a sample syllabus of a course, and read about or talk to students about the programs.  Also learn about the school.  What is the school known for?  What are the traditions and history of the school?  Contact alumni and hear their stories and experiences while attending the school.
  5. Determine the requirements and deadlines for acceptance in the programs and begin the steps to apply.  Many requirements include: filling out an application which usually includes writing essays, obtaining letters of recommendation, requesting transcripts from your undergraduate programs, and taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).  Taking the GMAT requires some time to invest in brushing up on math and verbal skills to prepare for the four hours of GMAT fun.
  6. Play the waiting game.  Once you apply, take a breather, have some fun, and wait on your decision letters/emails/phone calls.
  7. The Decision.  Ok, so you probably are not going to go LeBron with your decision but once you have received your decision letters from the schools, determine your next steps.  Did you get in to the top school that you wanted to?  Are you and your family ready to begin the next phase of your education?
  8. Enroll.  Begin your new program with a positive outlook, meet new people, and make the most out of the opportunities that await you.

Good luck in your search!


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about making lists. Writing out what I need to accomplish during the week is a good start but after making the lists, I try to figure out what takes priority. The questions I ask myself each week usually are:

  1. What’s the most important thing that I need to accomplish this week?
  2. Do I have a test this week? If so, how much time do I need during the weekend to study?
  3. How much reading do I have to do for the week in my classes? Will I have extra time during the week to get the material read or do I need to read some of it during the weekend?
  4. Do I have any work-related projects or committee meetings that I will need to work on after hours during the week? Since I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mondays and Wednesdays are pretty valuable study evenings but sometimes those nights get busy with other things.
  5. Looking ahead, what is going on in my classes in the next two or three weeks that I need to start working on?
  6. Can I plan some free time in my week/weekend?

Granted, no matter how much a person can plan, things do come up. But trying to figure out what my priorities are for the week, I can know that at the very least, I need to do the top two or three things on my lists.

And sometimes, question six wins. A person can only spend so much time studying. I had spent a good bit of Saturday studying for an exam so I took some time on Sunday to enjoy the sunshine and the last of the warm weather for the year. So I spent time with my dad while he harvested crops on our family farm.

Good bye Mr. Jobs

Steve Jobs died this week; the founder of all things Apple. As I look around in my classes, many of my classmates have some of the products he helped create; MacBooks, iPhones, iPods, and iPads. These products have changed the way we participate in class and communicate with our classmates.  (These devices have also let us waste some of our valuable time playing such games as Angry Birds or Words with Friends but that isn’t the point.)

Steve Jobs also helped Pixar grow and then sold it to Disney. I know, this has nothing to do with Graduate School, but I like little kid movies. And when I’m swamped with everything, I just think of Dory in Finding Nemo “When life gets you down, you know what you have to do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

The word that many people are using for Steve Jobs was a ‘visionary’. Many of the speakers during Fisher’s National Middle Market Summit http://www.nationalmiddlemarketsummit.com/ used him as an example about how to have a vision for their businesses as well. He is such a good example of what we could do if we put our mind to it.

So my advice for the week is to take a few minutes and think about how you can be a ‘visionary’ too.