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Greta O’Keefe By Greta O’Keefe • January 8, 2019

How I Earned My MBA Working Full Time With a Kid at Home

I was that high school graduate that decided I was NEVER going to college. It was not happening, because, frankly, I didn’t have the means or the desire.

Fast forward about five years. Life was hard work, and I realized perhaps there was a better way. It took me seven years from start to finish, through various community colleges, correspondence courses (the VHS video and snail mail kind) and eventually commuting to an onground university, but, with a load of debt, I finally graduated with my bachelor’s degree.  

Afterward, that was it, I thought I was done, for sure.

I then worked my way through television production and fundraising, eventually landing in higher education, where I began to feel the need to take my education further. There was so much more to learn to advance my career. The question was, how would someone like me, with a job and a family even begin to work toward a master’s degree, let alone be accepted into a program?

I had started to receive mailings about various graduate programs at many institutions, as if they were reading my mind. I looked at different schools, did a lot of research and slowly came to the realization that if I could find a way to do it at all, the MBA with a focus in marketing would be the way for me to go.

The Barriers

In this research, I learned of so many barriers:

  • Some MBA programs required up to 60 credits and not many terms in which to take them (how long would this take me?)
  • The existence of GRE or GMAT requirements (what are those?)
  • SO expensive (where would the money come from?)
  • Many programs required my presence in a classroom, and even some of the online programs had courses that required classmates to meet at specific times through webcam (how would that even be possible?)

It was all much too overwhelming with a full-time job and a kid at home, and a bit unrealistic for me, or so I thought. 

Enter Thomas Edison State University…

They had an MBA!

It was accredited!

I didn’t have to take those tests!

There were no hidden fees with that flat per credit rate!

I never had to leave my house to complete it if I didn’t want to!

With only 39 credits needed and six terms per year, the credit load could be finished in just 18 months!

Where could I sign?!?!

How I Got Started

I pulled up the online application late at night on my computer from home, nervously wrote my personal statement with my goals and objectives, along with my essay and resume. I reviewed it, updated it and reviewed it again. I requested two letters of reference from one former employer and one longtime colleague and clicked submit. I requested my official transcript from the school where I earned my bachelor’s degree and sat back and waited.

I didn’t wait long; within weeks, I was somehow already taking my first course, which I then quickly moved into two per term. I learned, however, that while you can complete it in 18 months, you don’t have to and that worked well for me. I won’t say it was easy, but it all fit into my work schedule, my son’s Boy Scout meetings and band rehearsals, and my family holidays and celebrations. It started weaving itself into my life until it simply became part of it.

How I Finished

A couple of quickly passing years later, I finished. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t know if I was more proud to submit my final project for my final course or to walk across that stage at Commencement and collect my degree in front of my cousins, my parents and my son… I suppose one was a very personal moment that I experienced alone with myself and the other was a very public exciting time that I shared with others. Each are both very special.

I will be forever grateful that I figured out how to make it work and that I was able to complete my master’s degree. I earned an MBA!

Greta O’Keefe

Written by Greta O’Keefe

Greta O’Keefe is the director of graduate recruitment. Prior to her joining the University in 2007, she worked for NJN Public Television in production, editing, event planning and fundraising. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and an MBA from Thomas Edison State University. Connect with her via email at gokeefe@tesu.edu.

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