Great job! If you landed here, you are critically examining your options for business education, including alt-MBA programs.
Traditional MBA programs don’t make sense in a post-coronavirus world. And now, the gulf between value and price has never been greater.
At the same, management training has never been more important. COVID-19 will accelerate automation and outsourcing across industries, leaving many jobs vulnerable. Management jobs are safe, as they require leadership skills, creative problem solving, and emotional intelligence.
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A number of alt-MBA programs have started in recent years, including brunchwork. More will pop up after COVID-19. As you weigh your options, consider these five key factors before enrolling:
Caliber of instructors, students, and guest speakers
alt-MBAs: Five Factors To Consider Before Applying
With the Internet at your fingertips, you can gain business knowledge by: reading business books and newsletters; watching YouTube videos; listening to business podcasts; and participating in low-cost, passive courses on edX, Coursera, and Udacity. If you’re going to invest the time and money into a structured program, it needs to be well worth it. These five factors will help you assess if it will be.
1. How interactive is the alt-MBA program?
Given the abundance of free and cheap resources, you should only invest in a highly interactive business program. There should be ample opportunity to discuss course materials, case studies, and the projects you complete. Students learn best by doing, not by listening to endless lectures. Consider the following:
How much class time is devoted to lectures versus interactive discussions and projects? In traditional programs, it seems 80% is lecture time. This is far too much. I advocate for lecture times of 10-20%.
How big is the program? It’s hard to apply knowledge and form strong professional connections if class sizes are bigger than 20 to 30 people.
Search for programs that wholeheartedly embrace active learning—an approach that’s more common among newer, modern providers like brunchwork.
2. How relevant is the alt-MBA program?
Industries change at breakneck speed, a rate that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. Just look at how quickly thousands of companies embraced remote work.
Alt-MBA programs should have a forward-thinking curriculum that’s tailored toward current trends and ideas, challenging students to live in the future and see a world outside of plain sight. Gone are the days of poring over decades-old case studies. A program that’s worth your investment believes in real-time learning, studying companies that had to pivot due to COVID-19 and those that have had big wins within the past decade, like Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify.
And, of course, the best programs embrace the digital economy and help train their students in digital skills. COVID-19 has shown us just how important the digital world is to business. Zoom is now not only a household name, but it’s also become a verb, just like Uber and Google.
In the brunchwork Business Intensive, students learn modern business concepts like lean methodology and no code. They routinely explore the latest business and tech trends— like AI, blockchain, and the consumerization of enterprise— from top experts in our acclaimed speaker series.
3. What’s the caliber of instructors, students, and guest speakers?
To become the best, surround yourself with the best. Look for programs that’ll provide you with access to industry experts, to peers, teachers, and guest speakers with impressive credentials. This will increase your quality of learning and become an amazing network to tap into.
When looking into an alt-MBA program, look for reviews. Focus on what the review says and who is saying it. If high-caliber students are offering praise, that’s a sign of a winning program. If you can’t find any reviews, that could be one of two things: The provider isn’t very transparent with user feedback (or doesn’t gather it at all), or they’re just too new to the game. In either case, we suggest looking elsewhere.
brunchwork has among the best reviews and most prolific speakers in the industry. Our speaker series attracts notable names like 2020 Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang, Y Combinator cofounder Trevor Blackwell, the Peloton cofounder Graham Stanton, and many more— these individuals are not only top of their fields, but hyper relevant to the world we live in.
4. How long is the alt-MBA program?
The constant industry disruption our generation has faced—now accelerated by Covid-19—means lifelong learning is paramount. Too many alt-MBA programs only last a few weeks or, worse, a few hours.
In our experience running an online business course, we’ve found that the ideal length of a program is between six to eight weeks. If the coursework is comprehensive and the class format interactive, this amount of time gives students enough time to bond with their classmates without taking up years of their lives.
Also, take note of when the class meets. When adding education on top of a full-time job, many students prefer meeting on the weekend because their cognitive load is smaller those days. This may be true for you, too, so you’ll want to think about that.
Lastly, make sure the learning doesn’t end when the program does. Providers truly invested in their students and their careers find ways to support them long after the program wraps up. Ask yourself:
Is lifelong learning built into the program?
Do the classes organize reunions after the program?
At brunchwork, we work with thousands of students each year, both MBAs and non-MBAs, on their career needs. Our members are not looking for one-and-done education. They are brunchwork members for years— bringing their growing insights and connections with them from job to job, company to company.
5. How much does the alt-MBA program cost?
A traditional two-year, MBA program sets students back $200,000, not to mention the opportunity cost of lost wages. Most students sacrifice their financial freedom as they take out massive loans to pay for the degree. No alternative MBA program requires anywhere close to that level of financial sacrifice.
However, some alt-MBA programs cost between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars. That feels like a lot of money to spend on leadership and management training— especially when there are cheaper alternatives to consider.
After all, at this very moment, U.S. unemployment is 15% and the economy is in free fall. $5,000 to $10,000 is still a big hit to your emergency savings fund. It’s a few months of peace of mind.
Sacrificing your financial freedom limits your ability to take future career risks. It’s hard to switch careers when you have six-figure debt to worry about. And yes, there are more affordable online MBA programs out there, but the cost is still quite high, especially for the passive format that isn’t very relevant or interactive.
With such a turbulent economy, paying more than $5,000 for a single program is far too risky. Luckily, there are some fantastic alternative MBA options available that are more affordable, timely, hands-on, and collaborative.
At brunchwork, we strive to keep our program accessible. As the educator at the fairest price, we also believe we deliver the most value. And, we have flexible monthly payment plans.
As you you weigh your choice for your business education, we hope you find these five considerations helpful.