IE Business School Online Masters
Juan Gutiérrez
May 4, 2009

Hello, I’m Juan from Guatemala, and I’m a student in the GMBA English program. After some months in the program I realized one thing, I was NOT in a part-time program, I was completely submerged in a full-time program…what?! yes, when students evaluate the options they have available to get an MBA, one of the trade-offs they have to make is to ask themselves if they want to:

– quit/pause their jobs/businesses/careers in order to pursue a full-time program or

– if they don’t want to make this “pause” in their professional lives consider a part-time option.

As some colleagues have stated in this blog, people think of an online program as “easy”….well if people think that is because they haven’t been in a Masters degree at IE :-).

As the first weeks passed by, I realized that I wasn’t in a part-time program, the term fits just because you work all day, but when you leave the office, the real work has just begun. What do I mean with this, well, one thing you have to consider is that your social life will vanish, you will have to dedicate a lot of time (more than you can imagine) to the program, and as I say to my friends/family when they ask me to go out with them or to spend time with them: I am physically here in GT, but you have to think of me as if I were full-time living in Madrid….

A full-time program has one feature that compared to an online format, is a weakness (no offense full-time takers :-p):

– Full-time students spend half the day working in the courses, attending classes and having group meetings to prepare the reports/presentations, etc for the classes, but they also spend the other half of the day “hanging around”. This is not bad, but I suppose this depends on each person. If you are in the early stages of your professional life, with no kids, no spouse, no major responsibilities, then I think the full-time program is a great option as you will have time to party, study, learn and have the best time of your life.

– Full-time students are “isolated” from their real lives back home, meaning that they are all in the same conditions, everybody lives in Madrid, nobody is working, nobody is living their “normal” lives with all the implications, no routinary hassles, no daily errands, nothing, you are all centered and focused on the Master, so this constrains a lot the learning and interaction in a more pragmatic and every-day level, I will go over this idea in the next paragraph (I promise, I am about to finish this post :-D).

The Online format allows you to:

– learn and receive a training so intense that it will resemble what real life will be. You will have to deal with your everyday issues (family, work, social, emotional, etc) all in one package, just as real life is. Since all the students in these programs are living their lives simultaneaously with the program, you will learn so many things from your colleagues’ lives (family-related, job-related, emotional-related, culturaly-related, etc) that the learning process will extend beyond the boundaries of the Harvard/IE cases, books and the lectures from your professors….., trust me, you will learn more from your colleagues (who in the end will become very close friends…you’ll see why) than from the books. The experience is so nurturing, that a day will not pass by without you learning something new. The amount of things you learn from your classmate’s cultures is so amazing that is like living in each and every country they represent without being physically there.

– Since an MBA is all about learning how to optimize, how to increase productivity, how to be able to orchestrate many things at the same time, with excellence, a person who is interested in an online program (due to some personal constrains that block him/her from a full-time program in Madrid) is certainly someone who has no time to spare, and who wants to test his/her capabilities to the limits, who doesn’t want to lose the opportunity cost of relinquishing an income for a year or two just to pursue an MBA (once you get to Cost Accounting/Financial Management you will see this concept in detail :-D), then the online format is the perfect solution to get the most of your time.

As I said before, you will have to take yourself to the limits because it’s not an easy task. You will have to work a lot, you will have to be a disciplined person, but the experience will start paying off right away, because due to the fact that you are working, you can implement the new tools into your business/jobs and since you are doing this in “real time” you get instant feedback from professors and colleagues once you implement it. I will go over this in more detail later on, in future postings….

Now, I think I already made my point clear, an online program is a full-time program, because you will be able to do just two things:

– Your job/business

– The GMBA

The program is demanding, you have a huge load to carry on, but don’t panic, all these is worth every penny you spend, all these is worth every drop of blood you will leave on the road :-p, all these is worth every drop of sweat you will leave on the track, trust me, the experience is so rewarding that if I had to do it again, I will do it without hesitating.

I will continue sharing with you my thoughts about this experience in the coming days…

take care

Juan


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