Published on 2013/11/15

Opportunity Costs: Determining the Value and Feasibility of Education as an Adult

Opportunity Costs: Determining the Value and Feasibility of Education as an Adult
Institutions must provide ongoing value to graduates to help prospective students decide whether enrolling is worth the sacrifice.

The following interview is with Doreen Amorosa, the associate dean and managing director of the MBA Career Center at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Amorosa was recently quoted in an article discussing the importance of engaging in ongoing learning as an adult, and the sacrifices involved with enrolling in a full-time education program as a professional. In this interview, Amorosa expands on that idea, and shares some thoughts on how institutions can help to reduce some of the concerns working adults have when it comes to enrolling.

1. We all know continuing education is valuable for professionals, but what is the opportunity cost students must accept when enrolling?

By choosing to earn an MBA on a full-time basis, the obvious opportunity cost is income that is foregone throughout the duration of the program. However, the return on this investment is the opportunity to gain the business knowledge, leadership acumen and the technical skills needed to become strong “leadership pipeline” candidates. This is to say, candidates that corporations expect to move up the ladder into leadership positions. Significant career progression is expected upon completion of further education.

Students who are looking to change the trajectory of their careers also have the opportunity to do an internship in a new field. Internships provide ‘real life experience, which often translates into a longer-term commitment of full-time employment upon graduation.

2. When seeking outcomes like an MBA, is a full-time program absolutely necessary, or can professionals pursue such certifications while working and gain similar outcomes?

Our three-year MBA Evening Program provides exactly the same curriculum as our two-year full-time MBA Program. The same professors teach in both programs, so the quality of education is consistent.

From the career perspective, the only difference is that the Evening Program does not feature an internship. Therefore, prospective students who are looking at both options should consider whether completion of an internship is an important factor in achieving their career goals.

Many of our evening students do successfully participate in full-time recruitment in the last year of the program. We provide them with job search preparation and career coaching, and they are welcome to participate in all employer events including on-campus interviewing.

Other evening students are looking to advance their careers with their current employers. For them, we offer internal promotion preparation, where they learn to craft “a campaign” for career advancement with their current employers, as well as ongoing career coaching.

3. How must professional and continuing education programming adapt to address the concerns of working adults while providing them with valuable outcomes and career advancement potential?

Working professionals who are pursuing an MBA have the challenge of balancing work, academics and their personal lives. Successful career outcomes are primarily dependent on clarity of career goals, a strategy for attaining those goals and the execution of a career plan.

Some evening students find it difficult to add this layer of complexity onto their already busy lives. One strategy we have put into place at the MBA Career Center at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business is to offer lifetime career support. This is valuable because, right from the start, evening students know that we are here to help them achieve their career goals not only while in the program, but also as alumni at any time in the future.

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Readers Comments

Jessica Prince 2013/11/15 at 1:06 pm

Is there a significant difference in outcomes for students who do the program part-time vs those who enroll fulltime?

Eugene Partnoy 2013/11/19 at 1:58 pm

I like the idea of using continuing, post-grad services as an enrollment tactic, but it doesn’t seem like enough to help get prospective students to leave their jobs for the promise of a better one.

We have had the most success in running our Exec MBA program in short, intensive bursts that allow students to keep their jobs and only requires them to come to campus once every 2 months or so.

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