What a Business School's Culture Means for Your ROI

The phrase “Return on Investment” (ROI) is essentially shorthand for “what you get out of it.” Estimating ROI requires calculations that you can easily find assistance with from applications online, but in order to obtain meaningful numbers, it is vital to include more than just tuition costs and expected salary benefits. Opportunity costs, cost of living and interest on educational debt should be included, but you should also consider the many benefits of business school which are more difficult to quantify, such as networking opportunities and immersion in an academically and professionally rigorous culture.

How Culture Adds Value
A business school’s culture cannot be reduced to a number that fits cleanly into your ROI calculation, but that does not mean you should ignore this critical factor when deciding whether or where to earn your MBA. Anyone who believes that the business world functions according to quantitative calculations that exclude human elements should read Greg Smith’s recent op-ed in The New York Times. The common values held by members of any community or institution end up influencing all those who attend. The culture at a business school will effect how much you enjoy your time there, what kind of network you form while earning your degree and even how well you learn the material. In other words, those ROI figures that promise to transform your future? They depend on culture, too.

Case Study
What kind of culture should you look for? The answer to that question will be a little different for every individual, but certain core values tend to help students succeed in the academic and professional worlds. Teamwork, integrity and community are all buzzwords that get thrown around a lot in business school marketing materials, but with good reason. While one student may look for a more internationally diverse school and another might seek a particularly regional culture, most business schools strive to instill the same core values in their students.

“It is hard to put into words the culture that exists at Kenan-Flagler,” Danvers Fleury wrote in Bloomberg Businessweek. “People care about each other, are natural team players, exhibit a lack of arrogance unheard of in the MBA arena and naturally embrace challenges with a can-do attitude. The small class size makes it possible to develop a tight-knit community, and lifelong friendships start getting built early and often. Professors go out of their way to make a relationship with you if you’re interested in one.” Doesn’t that sound like the kind of culture you would want to be a part of?

About Online Education
Students opting to earn their MBAs online may fear that they won’t benefit from their business school’s culture to the degree that on-campus students would. But as distance learning and blended MBA programs become more technologically sophisticated and socially engaging, online students are getting more and more culturally involved. For instance, students of Kenan-Flagle’’s MBA@UNC participate in live seminar-style online classes, attend quarterly in-person immersion weekends and connect to a network of 30,000 alumni.

As evidenced by this post by a student in the MBA@UNC program, even online students can feel apart of a school’s culture. For a school like North Carolina, whose tradition is built off of basketball, Chapel Hill, and a beautiful campus, the ability to recreate that culture online means everything because it shows that their students are apart of the network and culture no matter where they are.

So whether you earn your MBA in a full time, part time or online program, remember to keep your school’s culture in mind when running those ROI numbers.

Today’s post was contributed by MBA@UNC, which is making big strides in the online education space among top-ranked MBA programs.

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