Going Back to School at 40 and Beyond: What to Expect
It's never too late to make a life change. Maybe you feel stuck in a career rut. Or perhaps you don't currently work in business, but you’ve always dreamed of starting your own entrepreneurial venture. Or maybe you want to refresh your business skillset—and reap the potential benefits of a higher salary and an elevated position upon graduation.
Online MBA degrees provide adults with a great opportunity to further their education on their own time, without having to relocate. Access-from-anywhere technology enables students to continue to work, to focus on parenting or caretaking, or to pursue other interests during their education. If you're 40 years old or older, here are some things you might want to know as you consider pursuing an online MBA.
The Average Student Is Older Than You Might Think
While you may be dreading classes full of 23-year-olds in an online MBA program, the average age of online MBA students was actually 33 years old in 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report, compared to 27 years old for on-campus programs.1 Older individuals find the flexibility provided by online MBA programs conducive to their professional schedules or familial roles.
By working for a time before heading back to school, students are able to apply professional experience to their MBA coursework. This means you likely won't be in a cohort with freshly graduated bachelor's degree holders when you pursue an online MBA. The students in your class will offer a diverse set of skills and expertise that can also enrich the learning experience for students of all ages.
An Interactive Learning Environment Brings You Up to Speed
Technology is an integral part of the business world today, and pursuing an MBA through an online interface primes you to thrive in this environment. A program like California State University, Monterey Bay’s Online MBA, whose platform enables mobile access on the go, allows students to connect with faculty and other students instantaneously and features transparent online grade tracking. This learning management system can both help older students master different types of technology and replicate user experiences that may be present in real-world business situations.
You Can Share Your Experience
One of the most rewarding aspects of online MBA study for many older students is the ability to share their own experiences with other students. You might even be able to teach your professors new knowledge and skills. Through group work assignments, you can practice the leadership and mentorship skills that also benefit you in the business world and forge new, productive connections with your classmates.
If your current professional role isn't one where you can exercise those leadership muscles, online MBA study enables you to develop them in a safe environment. Online MBA programs can help students of all ages increase their confidence, so they feel more capable to lead in professional settings.
Learn With—and From—the Largest Generation in the Workforce
In addition to sharing what you know with your younger classmates, you also can learn from their generation’s unique outlook. The Pew Research Center reports that in 2019, millennials will surpass baby boomers as America's largest generation.2 If not today, then in the very near future, working closely with millennials will be inevitable. You might supervise them, collaborate with them as peers, or even perhaps work with them as leaders of your business. Regardless of your role, this is the generation you'll likely have to work with extensively in any business setting.
Interacting with millennials in a classroom environment gives older students the skills they need to form positive business relationships with their younger coworkers. Millennials tend to possess views about work that differ from those of older employees: research by Gallup shows, for example, that millennials value regular meetings with managers and are likely to become disengaged if unsatisfied at work, causing them to transition jobs more frequently than previous generations.3
Interacting closely with millennials through online MBA group work and class discussions can give older students valuable insights for how to better manage this unique, technologically fluent cohort, and prepare you to work with them confidently and effectively.
Make Your Career More Meaningful
One of the most tangible benefits of getting an online MBA is that there are myriad positive career outcomes you can expect. First and foremost, you may be financially rewarded for earning this degree: The median salary for MBA graduates is nearly twice as much as that for workers who possess only a bachelor’s degree.4
Another potential benefit is upward career mobility. If advancing in (or from) your current role just isn't happening for you, an MBA degree demonstrates to your employer and other companies that you possess important global business skills. You can apply for roles that are restricted to candidates who hold MBA degrees, and you show your current company that you are committed to expanding your business skill set.
And if entrepreneurship is appealing to you, you can also gain the knowledge you need to open your own business. Even if you already have that sure-fire business idea, you still need the education and acumen to execute it. An MBA degree can help you become a thriving business owner, well-positioned to handle the unique challenges of entrepreneurship and to grow your company successfully.
Never Stop Pursuing Your Dreams—Get an Online MBA at CSUMB
No matter your age, it is always possible to take the steps necessary to achieve your goals. Going back to school at any point in life can be a productive life change, and an online MBA degree can be the force that enables someone who is stuck in a professional rut to break out and move up, or to strike out on their on in an entrepreneurial venture.
To start making your dreams a reality, get more information on CSUMB’s diverse and innovative Online MBA program today.
1. Retrieved on April 24, 2018, from usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2017-05-23/us-news-data-the-average-online-mba-student
2. Retrieved on April 24, 2018, from pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/
3. Retrieved on April 24, 2018, from news.gallup.com/reports/189830/millennials-work-live.aspx
4. Retrieved on April 24, 2018, from gmac.com/why-gmac/gmac-news/gmnews/2015/august-2015/gmac-salary-estimator-tool.aspx