Written by Bryce Hammons, published on 2013-07-30

When you’re looking over business programs to decide which one you’re ready to commit to, you’ll want to ask some important questions about each one: How is this school ranked? How much will it cost? What do students say about the professors? What influence will this program have on my job prospects? And the list goes on.

Fortunately, if you’ve heard of any of these publications – Bloomberg Businessweek, Poets & Quants, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Beat the GMAT, or the Harvard Business Review – you know that you can look them up online and get the answers to those questions in short order. You can also find student blogs, school websites, printed articles, and more, all there just to help you learn everything you can about the familiar traditional MBA program.

Done, and done. But not so fast – what if you’re planning to attend an online program? Where do you go if you want to find out about those? You need the scoop on more than just the traditional scenarios – you want to know about everything from getting in to curriculum to advice from those who have come out the other end. Where can you go for intel about today’s new world of business school? Why, again, student blogs, of course! Coming as they do from students currently taking part in online learning all around the globe, they can give you a peek into the life of an online student. And guess what we have for you today? That’s right, some of the most interesting, informative, and entertaining student distance-learning blogs on the Web. Whether you’re hoping to learn more about online courses, networking, work load, or anything in between, you’ve come to the right place!

MBA@UNC Blog

One of the top resources for prospective online students is the MBA@UNC blog. Presented by UNC’s top-ranked Kenan-Flagler Business School, the online MBA@UNC program offers students the opportunity to earn their MBA from anywhere in the world. The MBA@UNC blog provides perspectives from both students and recent alumni, as they share the ins and outs of their program. Among other topics, you can read about how to use the 2NC platform to gain access to classmates, courses, and professors. The UNC online MBA combines social media elements with a well-designed interface, and the result is an accessible, practical, and rewarding experience.

In UNC’s case, each course lasts for 10 weeks and is divided into asynchronous – that’s anywhere and anytime – and synchronous parts, in which students listen to – and interact with – professors and other students at preset times. Students in the asynchronous portions have signed in from Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and beyond, at all times, day and night. Furthermore, many of the UNC bloggers say the synchronous online material is a lot more engaging than the usual classroom-based approach. Being online seems to lend it an adventurous atmosphere, immersing students in discussion, case studies, and participation in a way that really sticks. From wherever they happen to be, students can discuss real-world examples and get real-time feedback from the instructor and their classmates, essentially sitting in the front row far more than they would be if there in person. Students even have virtual happy hours with classmates and office hours with professors. Sound like fun? This is just one example of what you can read about in these blogs – you get all kinds of details about UNC’s online program, and you can find out whether or not it’s something you would like to pursue, at UNC or a similar institution.

Financial Times and Online Education

While FT.com offers a full complement of blog posts from the campus-based viewpoint, you can also get an inside look at a few students making the dive into an online MBA. For instance, Linda Groarke contributes insights gleaned from her online MBA experience: how to choose the right program, successful networking, tips for making the most of an online program, and more. You can learn a lot from her informative and fun take on the MBA endeavor.

Just one interesting fact out of many: Groarke calculated that her part-time study over three years would require 11 to 12 hours per week, meaning around 1.5 hours per day. It’s an important reminder for prospective students. Even though your mileage may vary depending on your program, you’ll need to account for the time you’ll have to devote to study, over and above work, family, and other responsibilities already on your plate. Your success depends on it.

A Remarkable Online Experience

And that doesn’t begin to exhaust the amazing stories you can find on FT.com that will inspire anyone thinking about venturing outside their comfort zones. Howard Marsden, a construction manager in the midst of a project to build a diamond mine in Botswana, decided to take on the Warwick Business School DLMBA. And how, exactly, did he accomplish this feat, you may ask? Working on his online MBA in a tented camp in the Kalahari desert while maintaining his ongoing real work – with no phone communication in the camp, summer temperatures over 104 degrees, and dust as far as the eye could see – he underwent an ordeal consisting of assignments, tests, and a lengthy dissertation for good measure. During this time, Marsden reports that he learned, among other things, that he’ll never again undertake two projects of that magnitude! But he also affirmed that despite the rigors and complications, the hard work was worth it and will pay off in the end.

Looking Deeper

Kristen Fanarakis – a UNC student – wonders if the negative perceptions of online programs will ever change. She hopes that they will, in time. And for her part, she wants more students to experience what online study really has to offer. To find out for yourself, start by getting the most up-to-date information on online programs. Business Degree Online provides a lot of material in one easy-to-navigate spot.

Whether you’re interested in online or campus-based learning, there is a plethora of helpful information from schools, magazines, blogs, and social media that can help you make the perfect choice for your needs and circumstances. Getting educated about the endless possibilities available to you can be just the catalyst you need to start moving toward a brighter future, today. You weren’t going to wait any longer, were you?