Why Online MBAs Attract a Mature Student Cohort
The prestigious Master of Business Administration (MBA) has been around for a really long time – over 110 years! The degree grew and evolved throughout the 20th century, but it underwent the greatest transformation in just the last decade. With the monumental ways in which technology and the internet have altered our everyday lives, it’s not hard to guess what has driven this transformation.
Today, the decision of whether to study online or on-campus is just as important as what to study and which provider to study with. While online interactive classrooms do have millennial enrolees, it’s actually experienced professionals – those who have been in the workforce for some time – who are the top online learning adopters.
According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), students studying full-time MBA programmes have an average age of 29 at graduation. But among the Australian Institute of Business’ (AIB) MBA cohort, all of whom studied online, the average age at graduation is 42.
So, what does age have to do with it? When it comes to study mode, quite a lot actually. Here’s why experienced professionals in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are choosing online over on-campus for their MBA.
Mature professionals tend to have less spare time, so study flexibility is key.
Among all the reasons why mid-career professionals choose online MBAs over traditional on-campus offerings, flexibility is the almost always the top factor.
With a full-time job taking up a decent chunk of your waking hours, family and care responsibilities, relationships to importantly invest in and, of course, a social life – study flexibility is so critical. It can be difficult, if not impossible, for the everyday worker to attend in-person lectures and workshops. With online study, these things don’t pose a barrier. There’s no contact hours and no requirement to show up in-person or even be online at certain times. You’ll study where and when it works for you and your lifestyle.
This is all made possible thanks to the versatility of online study materials and interactive learning hubs such as AIB’s Student Learning Portal. On any device, you can log in and get some study done, whether it be on your lunch break, daily commute, during your gym session, in your own study space at home or even in a different country. There are no limitations, so you can test and try different locations and study schedules until you find what makes you the most productive.
Kristy Bloomfield is a Brand Manager, partner to Patryk Kelly (who is also an AIB graduate) and a Mum of two. She shares how studying online was the only way she could have got her MBA.
Work and study can happen in tandem, resulting in some pretty powerful learning outcomes.
Among our global network of online MBA graduates, over 90% worked full-time while they studied the degree. They continued to work towards their professional goals without interruption and earn their regular full-time income (or more, as 1 in 4 AIB graduates reported receiving a salary increase while studying the MBA).
There was no need to put their careers on hold, reduce to part-time hours or limit travel work plans, which are compromises that are often required to accommodate on-campus study commitments. This is just not practical or feasible for most mid-career professionals, many of whom have mortgages, expenses and young ones to support. Luckily, these are sacrifices that online MBA students don’t need to make.
All who contemplate their MBA options understand these advantages of studying online. What is perhaps not as widely recognised though is how the learning experience and learning outcomes of MBA students are heightened when you study and work concurrently.
Working MBA students who are studying online have a real live test environment in their workplace where they can implement what they’re learning and use colleagues and leaders as a sounding board for new ideas. They have the ability to read or listen to their subject material in the morning and apply it that very day at work.
Dan Cody, Principal Embedment – Technology (Australasia) at BHP, harnessed the practical learning power of studying while he worked.
“When you’re taking on an MBA as an older student”, he says, “you’re really keen to learn. I would often read something new at night and then wake up early so that I could get to work to either put it into practice or chat with colleagues about why they do it a certain way. It was a really exciting time”.
The immediate practical application of new knowledge is encouraged when you study an MBA as this aids that real-world understanding which is crucial to ensuring that the learning is relevant to you. It also improves your chances of remembering the MBA concepts long-term.
MBA assessments provide another avenue to deepen the MBA learning experience when studying online. Undertaking the AIB online MBA, all assessments are practical and designed to reflect what’s happening in the workplace. AIB students apply the theories they’re learning to real-world business problems, a past professional experience or an organisation they’re familiar with. It sees students work with real problems to produce real solutions – a body of work that is valuable outside of the degree to leaders and those who have many years of work experience.
AIB alumni Mark Nesci shares how his work experience helped to frame his MBA assessments.
Your online MBA peers are just like you. They’re rarely school leavers.
Online or on-campus – the choice really is yours! It’s important to keep in mind though the type of students that each study mode attracts and who you are likely to benefit from study alongside the most.
While online MBAs attract more mature applicants due to the flexibility and learning benefits we’ve discussed in this article, on-campus MBA programmes often attract younger students who enrol in the tail end of their undergraduate degrees. At AIB, we’ve certainly found this to be true, with the average age of our students being 42 when they graduate.
When someone who has years of career experience under their belt studies an online MBA, they do so with other business-savvy professionals who too have diverse and in-depth career experiences to build their learning upon. Through interactive classrooms, online forums and study groups, students connect, collaborate and learn from one another. The old myth that online study is a lonely experience is just that: a myth. Technology allows the online student to connect just as much with peers and faculty as an on-campus student – the power to do so is theirs.
Studying online also helps to break down the local networking limitations that exist with on-campus offerings. You study alongside professionals who are located all around the world, and you’re able to benefit from this diversity in experience and markets. This is certainly the case at AIB, where we have over 16,000 students, alumni and industry partners located across 90 countries.
AIB MBA graduate Jimmy Bangun believes that one of the highlights of his online MBA experience was how diverse his fellow students were.
“Through the journey, I met a lot of different people outside of my industry. I think this was one of the real values of the online MBA – you’re not just stuck in one city with the same people – you can build networks overseas as well.”
There’s more control over how you study.
A really powerful advantage of studying online is the ability to control the pace at which you learn. While on-campus degrees require that students stick to a set timeline, with the online MBA from AIB, that timeline is merely a guide. It can be adjusted to suit the student’s learning style, existing knowledge and areas where they need to invest more time. So, students are able to progress faster through the subject’s topics if they’re nailing them or slow it down and spend longer on the those which are a bit more challenging for them.
This personalisation of learning and flexibility is really beneficial to those who have many years or decades of experience and understand their areas of strengths and weakness. In applying this to their online MBA, they’re able to be more nimble, productive and essentially can get more out of the programme, delivering a smarter return on their investment.
For experienced professionals, online MBAs really are a great fit – for all the reasons we’ve discussed and more. If you’re considering online study, we’d encourage you to check out the AIB MBA and what it has to offer.
Click here to get the AIB MBA information pack and chat about your career goals with an AIB Course Advisor.