Why it was important to get my MBA in my own backyard

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By Jesse B. Wright

Education

Bachelor of Science, Industrial and Systems Engineering, c/o 2008, University of Florida

Master of Business Administration, c/o 2019, University of Florida

Professional

National Account Manager

Schindler Elevator Corporation

Since undergrad, I dreamed of pursuing an MBA to help expand and balance my business knowledge.  The timing never seemed to be right.  Straight out of school, I didn’t have enough work experience to be admitted into a reputable program.  Three years out of school, I was moving from San Antonio to Miami and not ready.  Five years out of school, I switched companies and had to wait my turn if I wanted to earn financial aid.  Seven years out of school, I was getting married.  Then eight years out of school, I became a father.  Finally, I realized one day, was there ever going to be a good time?  Was it going to get easier having an older child in grade school and activities or having two children?  I decided at 31 the time was now or never!

Exploring MBA options, I found there were three program choices to pursue: full-time, professional, or online.  Attending a highly rated MBA program was important to me.  The workplace is a competitive space so I felt the better the program I could attend, the higher the chances I would have of learning from quality professors, classmates, and alumni.  Moving to enroll in a top full-time program wasn’t a practical option because I would have had to lose my salary, my wife’s salary, and take on enormous debt to take care of my wife and infant daughter without the help of family in a new city.  Ruling out full-time, I narrowed my choices to universities in South Florida or national online programs.

Online programs were an intriguing option because the format opened up an array of universities that I wouldn’t normally have geographic access to.  The concept of being able to learn at my convenience was initially appealing too.  Ultimately, I decided though that having in-person interaction with professors and classmates was the best fit for the experience that I was seeking.  Access to opportunities in life often boils down to who you know, so I really wanted to maximize making lasting personal connections that could be mutually rewarding for years to come.

In South Florida, the most known MBA programs are from Northwestern University, University of Florida, University of Miami, and Florida International University.  I continued my search exploring an array of factors, such as tuition, ranking, alumni networks, and schedule.  Financially, UF MBA was considerably more affordable than Northwestern University or the University of Miami.  Ranking wise, UF MBA was in the Top 25 overall according to U.S. News World and Report.  While Northwestern was ranked Top 6, their tuition was roughly three times more than UF MBA.  Long term, my family and I plan on remaining in South Florida.  Over 40,000 University of Florida alumni, from all majors, reside in South Florida.  Schedule-wise, UF MBA’s format of having class only on Saturdays and Sundays every three weeks was by far the best fit.  Given these factors, choosing UF MBA in South Florida was a no-brainer.

Having just finished the program in July 2019, I am extremely happy with my decision to attend UF MBA in South Florida.  The quality of cohort classmates and professors exceeded my expectations.  My classmates came from a variety of professional backgrounds from finance, to medical, to legal, to marketing with a broad depth of experience.  Geographically they were from all over all over the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America.  Given UF MBA’s strict admissions requirements, they all were there to learn and not just check a box.  Our classroom environment was very engaging and our cohort truly bonded.  We kept in touch outside of school and I feel confident that I have a viable network of classmates to turn to for years to come.  Our professors were top notch, lecturing with up-to-date material and leading notable research in their fields.  If you live near South Florida, and are interested in pursuing an MBA, I would highly recommend UF MBA in South Florida.

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