Miracle on 34th Street? Advice to a Prospective MBA Student

I had an email exchange with Gabriel, a UCF alum and prospective MBA student this week. I frequently get questions about the changes we have made to our MBA programs, especially from our own alums, so I thought I would share our conversation with you…

From GabrIel:

Dear Dean Jarley,

My name is Gabriel and I recently graduated from UCF with my undergraduate degree in business administration. I believe it is unfair to students who have recently graduated from UCF to not have the opportunity to continue their education because they need two years of post bachelor experience. Some of us want to pursue our education at a young age before getting married or having kids and later get the experience needed to pursue our careers. I am now looking at other options to pursue my masters degree since UCF has such requirements and no longer offers the one year MBA program. Will UCF be bringing the one year MBA program back or is that no longer an option for those trying to pursue their MBA in one year? Please let me know. Thank you.

My Response:

Dear Gabriel:

I do not believe we will be bringing back the one year MBA for our own undergraduate business majors. While some students would be attracted to the convenience of earning their MBA immediately upon graduation from our undergraduate program, it is a low value added proposition. This is because you would be taking many courses from the same faculty members as you took as an undergraduate. While the courses are taught at a higher level, the new insights a UCF undergraduate business major would gain from this experience are modest.

There are two ways to gain greater value. The first is to get some professional work experience and return for your MBA. Doing so will help you see the issues and problems in a new light and help you assess what you really want to get out of the MBA experience beyond the credential. The second option is to do the MBA program now but at another institution. While the reading material and subject matter will be largely the same as at UCF, you will take different faculty members who will give you different insights and perspectives on these topics. Those different perspectives will be of value to you as you navigate your career–a broader portfolio is always a nice hedge against uncertainty and risk.

Another option would be to get more specialized training in a specific disciple such as a Masters in Finance, Human Resources or Accounting. The MBA, especially the one year MBA is a generalist degree.. It is similar in content to the college undergraduate core. In contrast specialty masters degrees tend to add deep knowledge in a particular functional area of business.

I know my answer isn’t exactly what you want to hear, but I offer this advice in what I believe is your own best educational and professional development interests. Whatever choice you decide to make, I hope your UCF education serves you well and that you enjoy much success in the future.

Gabriel’s Response:
Dean Jarley

Thank you for your insight and great advice. I now understand the reason behind the recent decisions that were made. I was looking at other options for the one year MBA program but there are only two schools in Orlando which are accredited by the AASCB which is the highest accreditation possible for business schools. Those two institutions are UCF and Rollins College. I don’t want to go to a school that doesn’t have this type of accrediation and since Rollins College is a little too steep for my pockets, I am considering applying for the part time MBA program at UCF. During my time at UCF I got my money’s worth and I will like to continue my education there. Thank you for your time Dean Jarley.

Epilogue:

When I showed this exchange to Roy, he commented that it reminded him of a scene in Miracle at 34th Street where Santa Clause tells the mother of a young boy that the gift he really wants is at another store (not Macy¹s where he is playing Santa) and she should get it there. It sets off an idea where the clerks at Macy¹s give good advice even if it means losing the immediate sale to a customer (and selling them something they don¹t need or really want). I am rarely compared favorably with a department store Santa, but I do think we have an obligation to help students find the right pathway, even when our advice may lead them somewhere else.

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