OpinionGuest's View

How online MBA amidst COVID is different from distance MBA

2020, the year many students would have waited for several of their reasons. For some, it was to be their graduating year; for some, the first year at college, schools, for some, it was their plunge into higher education. But as we entered March, it started looking uncertain on every front, be it economy, hospitality, education, or for that matter, any sector across the globe.

Many companies then realized how important it is to have a ready Business continuity plan or, say, Plan B to carry out their operation if nothing is as per the plan.

Last year we witnessed a sudden change in the teaching methodology. The online mode, which was seen as an addition to the classroom teaching or for the students who wanted to study at their own pace, took center stage. The worst part of all these transitions was that they did not give teachers and the educational institute time for preparation. Most of them were forced to get along to the new era of online platforms to deliver entire courses on a fully remote basis.

However, this can be overcome to some extent by enabling teaching to a larger audience using digital means irrespective of the demography.

Apprehensions: What Tomorrow

From the student’s perspective, it was indeed a clueless affair as none of us had any idea on how and by when things would get back to normal. Even after getting into an online curriculum, they were apprehensive about the learning in this never to be thought mode. Every horizon of leanings happening around was in the online mode be it Schools, Colleges, coaching institutes. Most of us thought the pre-normal was that classroom teaching has a lot of added advantages compared to online education.

Like many, I had my plan to go for an MBA after taking a break from my 5+ years of experience in IT and was on with my plan, passing through the entrance exams, GD-VA, PI, and getting the admit letter from one of the prestigious Business school and to take the admission in March 2020. Like many, I was way too excited to go back to college life, learn from my peers, evolve as a person, learn and excel.

But then came the lockdown announcement and then an extension of lockdown.

Confusion: What Next

I was amid speculations and assumptions, thinking if this is the right time to leave a Job and do an MBA at a time of uncertainty where we were not sure if the colleges will reopen anytime sooner and also the impact on the economy, which would impact the opportunity after the completion of the program.

After a lot of thought, I withdrew my admission last year and rather happily went with my default Plan B of withdrawing my resignation as well. The concrete point which made me take this decision was thinking online MBA is like what distance MBA programs are, but I was wrong. This one year has changed the way I look at things around me.

This inevitable transition now looks to be somewhat ready to take on challenges in the future where we have an education system in place with no boundary, a digitally driven system. It has also opened a new avenue in innovation in the education sector with futuristic technology like AI, ML, and VR.

Decision: To sail MBA voyage

Finally, this year after considering every aspect, discussing with many of my friends, reading online journals/articles on the prospect of doing an MBA amid COVID, I am glad that I decided to pursue an MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur, this June. The driving factor to my decision was that B schools across the globe had adopted the online teaching methodology, and so will be the opportunity, and I will be no different to this change.

Though initial days were tough on managing the schedule, it looks like one gets adapted to the rigorousness of MBA and starts a transformational journey. We have almost the same level of interaction with professors, case discussions, peer learning, same rigorous group assignments, opportunity to participate in case competitions, guest speaker series where you get to interact with industry stalwarts and listen to their thoughts, being on the other side of the screen. What will matter is the learning we get with these sessions and interactions; the experience so far has been very dynamic and enriching here at XLRI, which will eventually contribute to future leaders’ foundations.

The online learning experience in these uncertain times is no match of what it would have been on campuses but not worth waiting another year if you plan to do higher studies at some point in life because we never know if this will be the best new normal.

Optimistic that we will be soon going to our campus and live that life as well, but learning will be on for the greater good.

Learning for life: Hope

This one year has given a lot of learning to each one of us, and what stayed with us and kept us going was Hope.

We have in the past and obviously in future will come across a situation where we will pray for something, at the same time fear will hound thinking about the situation of failure, will be confused on the paths we should choose to get what we want from life, be adaptable to the changes around, but what remains with us is Hope, which keeps us moving, learning, evolving.

Hoping very soon we will be back to pre-COVID similar kind of new normal era, where we relate to each other more strongly and empathetically.

About the Author

Swetabh Verma

Swetabh Verma is a Software Engineer, now an ExPGDM student at XLRI, Jamshedpur. He is passionate about teaching underprivileged students where he trains them on IT employability skills.


DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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