I was privileged to participate in Rotman’s Open House this past weekend and got a chance to meet with prospective students to answer their questions about Rotman’s Morning MBA program. Hello to those of you that I met there!
Since I’m a Rotman Ambassador and have participated in similar recruitment events in the past, I thought I would try to compile some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that I usually get and answer them here for you. This list is certainly not exhaustive but may be helpful to those of you who could not attend the Open House and are considering the Rotman Morning MBA.
1. Why MBA? In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to do my MBA but it wasn’t after I had an opportunity to work at a non-profit organization that I decided to finally do it. I realized that it is hard to attract quality skilled talent to these organizations and I feel that these are the places that need it most. I wanted to join the corporate world and get my MBA so that I could bring the business acumen and experience needed to lead a non-profit organization.
2. Why Rotman? What other research did you do to choose? To be honest, all business schools in Toronto are good. I considered Rotman, Schulich and Ivey but in the end chose Rotman because it was the only one with the Morning MBA program and the location was ideal since I work downtown. It only takes me about 15 min to get to Rotman and vice versa. Ivey is also downtown but their classes were in the evening and some of their course selection was limited since their main campus is in Waterloo. I attended recruitment events (such as Open Houses and info sessions) and sat in a class at Rotman through the ambassador program. I highly recommend it b/c sitting in an actual class helped me get the experience as a student. I really enjoyed it (and it was a Stats class!) and immediately knew that Rotman was the school for me.
3. Why part-time vs full-time? Why Morning vs Evening? Many people choose the part-time program because it allows them to work at the same time and they don’t have to give up earning a salary. While that is certainly important, I chose a part-time program b/c I learn best by applying what I learn to real life situations. I worked full-time when I was doing my undergrad (crazy I know) and even though my schedule was certainly tight, I got a lot more out of the classes b/c I was able to relate the theories to situations that I encountered at work. The part-time program allows you to do that and it has worked out well for me. My courses continue to be extremely relevant to the business world I work in so it’s almost like I get to apply the curriculum to my own live case. I chose the Morning program b/c that worked best with my schedule. Sometimes I need to work late and did not want to have to worry about rushing to make it to class on time. The Morning program allows me to attend class and get into the office by about 9:30am twice a week. I am used to waking up early as well and it is the best learning time for me. I am often tired after work so evening classes are difficult.
4. Has Rotman met your expectations? Absolutely yes. As I shared at the Open House, this sounds so cliche, but Rotman has actually exceeded my expectations. Through my undergrad I was completely a commuter student and since I worked full-time, I was often just at school for class. I didn’t participate in many activities or make strong friendships. But my Morning MBA cohort has become a wonderful supportive safe community to learn and grow in. I’ve made great friendships and we help each other out. Since majority of us are working, we are not competing for grades or jobs so it allows us to learn as a team. Probably the best part of my Rotman experience so far.
5. What have you encountered that you did not expect? It sounds a bit silly but I did not expect the amount of work outside of class that I would need to do. I was quite naive in joining the program thinking that I could layer it into my life quite easily. That I could handle 2 mornings a week of 2 hour classes no problem. But the studying and projects do take up quite a bit of time and I was initially very unprepared on how to handle school, work and my personal life! It has taken me a while to adjust but this is all part of the learning process.
6. What is the workload like? How many hours do you spend on school outside of class? I’m not going to sugar-coat here: doing an MBA at Rotman is a lot of work. Period. I just hope that you won’t be naively surprised about it like I was. As for the exact number of hours you will need to spend on it each week, I can give you the consultant’s standard response: it depends. And it really does! First, it depends on your own background and skills – if you have an accounting background, then you will not need to spend as much time on that course. If you are able to read quickly, then prepping cases might not take up a lot of your time. Second, it depends on what kind of student you want to be, that is, how important your grades are to you. If you want to be an A student and make the dean’s list, then you will need to spend a lot of your time going over and prepping the materials. Third, there are some courses which will require a lot of work. Period. One such course is Operations Management that I mentioned briefly in a blog post earlier. It is a difficult course which requires a lot of work for pretty much everyone no matter their background. But really your time spent on school will depend on you and how much you devote to spend on it.
7. What are your project teams like? Do you get to pick your own team? During your core courses, you will have two different project teams. One for the first half and one for the second. Not every course has group work but those that do, it will be done in your teams. They are selected for you by the Program Services Office (PSO). There is a special algorithm that they use to make up your teams so that they are diverse. I don’t know what factors into their equation but I don’t believe it’s dependent on location. My first project team was excellent. If you have been following my blog, you will know that they were extremely supportive for me and I have developed very strong relationships with them. Not everyone is as fortunate to get such a good team but we all really bonded well and worked well together. My second team was not a strong from a relationship perspective as my first team (again noted on my blog) but still a good team nonetheless. We went through some challenging periods on some projects but this is where the education really gets beneficial. Similar to a work environment, you won’t always get to choose who you work with and people/projects will not always work out well. In this environment, you get an opportunity to try out different techniques to help you work with teams better in the future. It’s a safe environment to grow together in this area. And depending on your team, you can meet in person, on Skype, via BBM, etc. It will be ultimately up to you and what’s best for your team. When you’re into your electives, you can pick your own teams for those courses that require team work.
8. How is the program structured? What are intensive weeks? The half of your program (1.5 yrs) you will have your core courses/curriculum. These usually fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 – 9am and you take these classes with your cohort. The second half is mainly elective courses where you choose them based on your interest and your schedule. Not all the electives that you want will be offered in the morning so you may need to take them in the evening or during the day depending on when they are scheduled or choose another elective. If there is enough interest, the PSO tries to schedule those electives in the morning. There are also three intensive weeks during the core curriculum. These occur at the end of August when you start your program, the following January and the January after that, one year later. They are usually 6-day full-day courses where you cover anywhere from 1 – 3 courses. If you search through my blog you will find my tips on surviving these intensive weeks b/c they really are INTENSE. But it’s a great opportunity to get to know your class b/c it’s difficult during the week with your regular morning classes. Everyone is usually rushing off to work afterwards.
9. Can you change your career in the morning program? The Morning MBA program (and the evening) is designed as a “career enhancer” while the full-time program is designed as a “career changer”. So the career development that you might need for a career change is not necessarily offered in the morning program. However, I would say again that it depends. Some people who want to change their career would prefer to take 2 years off and focus on the full-time MBA and take advantage of summer internships, exchange programs, etc. The Morning MBA students do not have access to all of these features due to the nature of the program but it is definitely still possible to change your career after the program is done. It’s really up to you and how you can manage your career best. Just don’t expect to go through the Morning MBA program and get the same career development support that you would receive in the full-time program.
10. If you could do it again, would you still make the same choice? Absolutely yes. Even if I was able to do it full-time, I would still choose the Morning MBA program for all the points listed above. It has certainly been a difficult journey and there are times when we still ask ourselves “why are we doing this again?” (you will too!) but it has been an unforgettable experience that has continued to help me in all areas of life since I started.
Phew! I didn’t expect that to take so long but hopefully I was able to provide you with honest information to help you make this important decision. I really liked what Rummy Gill, Assistant Director of Recruitment at Rotman said at the Open House this weekend: “Rotman is not for everyone and it might not be for you.” This is completely true. If you are looking to do your MBA, you need to find the school and program that’s best for you. Rotman was the best place for me and I’m very happy with my choice.
Did I miss any of your questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments & I will answer them!