Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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How Many Hours Does One Spend on Homework in a Part-time MBA Program? The Final Analysis

Hey, remember that time that I did an MBA? That was pretty awesome. And remember how I’m a huge nerd and was tracking all the hours that I spent on said MBA? Also pretty awesome. Anyway, the last time that I provided an updated summary, it was of the data up to the end of summer 2013. So, for completeness sake, I’ve analyzed the full data set, from the beginning of the pre-core program until I handed in my industry paper, the final thing I had to do in my MBA. (Spoiler alert: the final analysis is not much different from what I saw in the preliminary analysis). A few caveats about these data:

  • I completed the program in 24 instead of 28 months, so the amount of time I spent per week is higher than it would have been if I’d completed the program as scheduled
  • The part-time program, as scheduled, consists of a full weekend of classes roughly every third weekend, except July & August, plus work on a business plan and industry project that spanned several months and was done outside of class weekends. I took some courses from outside my program (e.g., full-time MBA classes offered in the evenings, EMBA courses offered on different weekends, some online/distributed learning courses). This makes my time spent in class less regular than it otherwise would have been.
  • My industry project was a project that was related to work, so some of it was done on work time. Since this was work I’d have been doing anyway, it was not counted as school work time (Though anything I did that was extra for the industry project was conducted on my own time and is counted in the data).
  • Transit time to and from school was not counted, unless I happened to be doing homework (e.g., reading while on the Skytrain) during that time.

And now, to the juicy data!

Overall for the two years, I spent:

  • 831 hours on homework
  • 641 hours in class
  • = 1472 hours total

If my next best alternative use of that time was to do freelance work and I charged $100/hr as a consultant, that would mean my opportunity cost for that time was $147,2001.

Overall2:

Hours spent on homework per week, on average  7.95
Hours spent in class per week, on average  6.14
Total hours spent on school per week, on average 14.23
Hours spent on homework per hour of class time 1.3

When you break it down to core3 vs. post core, you get the following:

Core Post-Core
Hours spent on homework per week, on average   7.95  7.96
Hours spent in class per week, on average   6.85  5.64
Total hours spent on school per week, on average 14.80 13.82
Hours spent on homework per hour of class time   1.2 1.4

The above tables tells us that:

  • I spent more time per week in core than in post-core
  • I spent the same amount of time per week doing homework in core as in post-core (regardless of the fact that I had more class time in core))
  • I spent more hours of homework per hour of class time in core than in core

Now, because I, along with all my classmates swore to our business statistics professor that we would always graph our data, here are some swanky graphs (click to embiggen)!

Time spent on MBA program per day

Time spent in MBA - daily totals (FINAL)

Time spent on MBA program per week

Time spent in MBA - weekly totals (FINAL)

 

So, in conclusion, I spent a heck of a lot of time on the MBA program. However, you should note that this was my experience, but it differs from others. For example, I spoke to a classmate at graduation who told me that he spent 40 hours per week total, for the whole 28 months of the program4. And I’m sure there are students who spent less time and in different patterns, given what was going on in the lives at various points – a lot can happen in two and a half years! Basically, I’m pretty happy with my time allocation because while it was a huge amount of time and required a lot of sacrifice, I invested the time that was needed to learn what I wanted to and needed to learn, but I still managed to have some fun along the way5. But mostly, I’m happy that it’s done!

  1. Of course, that assumes I could find 14 hours per week of freelance work for 2 years. If my next best alternative use of that time was to sit around eating Doritos, the opportunity cost would be significantly less. []
  2. Note that if I’d taken the full 28 months to do the program – assuming that the total number of hours spent on the modules I would have taken would be the same as the total number of hours spent on the modules that I did taken – I would have spent an average of:

    • 6.68 hours per week on homework
    • 5.29 hours per week in class
    • =12.26 hours per week total []
    • When I say “core” here, I’m actually including the pre-core, which was three optional weekends immediately before the core, as well as the 10 months of the core program itself. []
    • Or possibly he finished a month or so early – so 40 hours per week for 26 or 27 months. I can’t quite remember for sure. []
    • Three half marathons and a trip to Europe come to mind! []

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MBA = Most Bad Ass

Last Wednesday, I attended my fourth – and final – university convocation as a graduate1, receiving my hard earned MBA2. It’s hard to believe that just 28 months ago3, me and 50 other brave souls embarked on the intense and life changing journey that is the part-time MBA program at UBC. Taking an program like this – super intense in both the amount and type of work – while also holding down full-time jobs4 takes a special5 kind of person. I knew I was going to learn a lot in this program, as I had no background in business whatsoever, but when I look back on it, I’m still stunned by how much I learned. Entire fields that I knew nothing about – accounting, finance, economics, marketing, just to name a few – are now not only comprehensible to me, but also fascinating. This program has provided not just content, but also new skills that I apply every day in my work and personal life and it has expanded my worldview.

And I feel very privileged to have traveled these past 28 months with the most fantastic group of people. I met people from all sorts of different sectors and backgrounds and learned as much from them as I did from my professors and textbooks. We worked hard together through countless classes and group meetings and Skype meetings and lunch meetings, through study groups and running simulated businesses and writing business plans and doing Friday case nights and the seemingly endless hours of capstone weekend. There were papers and exams and presentations and celebrations. There was a lot of laughter and some tears and some rants and all the things that life-long friendships are made of.


The day of graduation, though they were calling for rain, actually turned out to be sunny and beautiful! One of the graduates from the full-time MBA cohort with whom I had a class6 and next to whom I sat at grad (due to us having surnames that are alphabetically similar) noted that this was because he’d worked his skills from the MBA – Master of the Black Arts. The convocation ceremony was nice, full of all the pomp and circumstance that a university convocation entails – the speeches were great and since I knew all of the part-time MBAs and a bunch of the full-timers (as I’d taken a couple of classes from the full-time program and some of them took some of our part-time classes) the seemingly endless parade of graduates crossing the stage was more interesting to me than my previous graduations, where I’d known far fewer of the people graduating.

This is the sea of graduates as seen from the balcony of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, where convocation is held:

MBA Graduation 2014 - A Sea of Graduates

You can spot me in the fifth row by the fact that I’m in a pink robe instead of the black MBA robe – one of the perks of having the PhD7.

In other news, I totally underestimated how long I’d be on stage when I said 7.4 seconds – it actually turns out that I was on stage for nearly 20 whole seconds! Here’s the video to prove it:

Here is 4/5ths of D2NA, my group from school. One of our big project in the Core part of our program was to write a business plan and our company was D2NA, and our product was the Double Device (you may recall our mascot, Marty The Moose.)). From left to right we have Bronwyn, me, the guy who holds the ceremonial university mace8 (not part of our group), Emily, and Tyler. Missing from the photo is Edmond, who wasn’t at the ceremony.

D2NA at MBA Grad!

And here’s a photo of me with Fran, the most helpful person EVER! When I first started my MBA, UBC had some difficulty in figuring out how to process my scholarship, as it’s a rare type of scholarship9 and they didn’t appear to have ever had a student with one of these before, so no one in the finance area could figure out how to deal with it. But Fran came to my rescue and after about a billion emails with Finance, she was able to get it sorted out for me so that I could get my scholarship money and thus be able to pay my tuition fees. She came up to me after the ceremony and introduced herself because, despite the aforementioned billion emails, we’d never actually met in person. Needless to say, I gave her the biggest hug!

MBA Graduation 2014

Because I’m spoiled, my mom and my Aunt Eileen came out from Toronto for my big day:

My mom, me and Aunt Eileen

They were here for the whole week and we had many adventures, which will have to be the subject of another blog posting as this one is already getting way long!

Speaking of spoiled, I was spoiled by my mom and aunt, who not only came all this way for my grad, but also showered me with gifts, including the beautiful shoes I wore to grad10 and the beautiful flowers that you see me holding11

And as if I weren’t spoiled enough, my Aunty Gwen sent me this MBA grad present – a gorgeous blanket that she crocheted herself, made specifically to go with my beloved purple chair:

Handmade afghan - an MBA grad present from my Aunty GwenThe picture does not do it justice – it’s an exquisite stitch that she used an the colours in it as so beautiful and it totally completes the chair!

All in all, it was a lovely day and I am very pleased that I can now officially put the “MBA” behind my name. For the record, I am now legally entitled to write my name thusly:

Beth Snow, BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD, MBA, CE

So that’s 18 letters after my name – and only 8 letters in my name! Even if you were to use my full legal name “Mary Elizabeth Snow” instead of just “Beth”, that’s only 17 letters in my name – still one fewer than all the ones I’ve earned the right to be put after my name!


Image Credit: Specially thanks to my Aunt Eileen and my friend and classmate, Emily Graham, for the photos and video!

Footnotes:

  1. If I get any more university degrees, they will have to be of the Honorary Doctorate variety, as I have no plans to actually do work for another degree. Though apparently you have to do something honourable in order to be granted an Hon Doc, so I guess I’ll have to figure out something honourable to do now. []
  2. A.k.a., graduating from grade 25 []
  3. And three years ago I don’t think I’d even started studying for the GMAT yet! []
  4. Not to mention having families, social lives, etc. By my count there were 11 babies born or conceived during the 28 months of our program, along with 6 weddings. []
  5. Translation: Crazy. []
  6. Healthcare Management. []
  7. You can spot the other PhD from my class – Keith – in the bottom left of that photo. []
  8. I have no idea why the university has a ceremonial mace. []
  9. Mostly because you can only get it if you hold a health sciences-based PhD and are doing an MBA, and there aren’t many people who have done a PhD that want to go back to school! []
  10. See photo above. []
  11. The flowers, sadly, have had to live on my balcony as the cats seem to think they look most delicious and I have no idea if these particular flowers are poisonous to cats, so to be on the safe side, I’m keeping them outside. []

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My Graduation – Live Stream

Even if you can’t be there in person, you can still have all the fun of watching hundreds of strangers graduate in order to catch the 7.4 seconds that I’ll be on the stage getting my fourth – and final – university degree1.

Just follow this link and select the May 28th, 11 am webcast. And remember, that’s 11 am Pacific Daylight Time, so for those of you in Ontario, that’s 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

I should be pretty easy to spot, as I will be one of only two people getting an MBA who will be wearing the pink & blue robes and puffy hat of a PhD, while the other MBAs will be wearing black robes and mortar board style hats. The other MBA graduate who will be wearing the PhD robes is a man who is about 6ft tall, so I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to tell the two of us apart.

  1. Unless a university – or universities – want to give me an honorary doctorate(s). I’m done with working for my degrees, but I’m more than happy to take free ones! []

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Official Proof That I Can Count to 20

Hey, remember that time that I finished my MBA? That was pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. But, because I’m me, I’m paranoid that I’m going to get to convocation day and someone will say “Actually, you only did 28.5 credits of post-core modules, but you were supposed to do 30 credits. No MBA for you!” I mean, sure I kept meticulous track of my courses (especially given that I messed around with the schedule, taking things from various different programs that I was interested in, instead of just the ones laid out for my cohort). I know without a doubt that I needed to do the equivalent of 20 post-core modules, worth 1.5 credits each1. Sure, I’ve counted all my credits up 17 different times. I’ve added them by hand and on a spreadsheet. I’ve had a fellow classmate count them for me. And I’ve had the MBA office double check that all my credits actually count. But what if we all made the exact same counting error and no one noticed? It could totally happen. Well, the other day we got an email about all the glorious things that await us when we become alumni2  and in said email it told us that we could ask the MBA office to produce a letter certifying that we have completed the program3. And thus I give you:

MBA Letter of Completion

Proof!

And, since I already have it handy, here’s the spreadsheet listing all the courses that I took. You know, in case you were wondering (a) what I’ve been doing for the past two years, (b) what topics you can now ask me for my expert advice on, or (c) you happen to be thinking about doing an MBA and want to know what some of the stuff you might cover could be4:

So now that I have my proof (and all of you can count my courses in that spreadsheet, just to be sure), I’m pretty content that come May 28, I shall be crossing the stage to receive my MBA. And so today I placed my order to rent my regalia for the ceremony. And, as I was informed by the robe guy5, because I already have a PhD, I get to again wear the pink robe and puffy hat that is reserved only for those special people who have a doctorate from UBC – because one always wears the robes of their highest degree when at a graduation ceremony. Long live the puffy hat!

  1. Two of the course I took were 3 credit courses, so they count as two modules. []
  2. Of course, I’m already an alumna of UBC. But what does it make you when you are a double alumna? An dalumna? An alumna2?. []
  3. Such a thing might be useful if, say, one was getting a job that requires an MBA and one needed proof before our graduation ceremony, which isn’t until late May. I’m not in that situation myself, but I want proof to prove to me that I can count! []
  4. Come on, you *know* you want to do an MBA! All the cool kids are doing it! []
  5. I totally have a robe guy. []

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All My Courses

Hey, remember that time I finished all my classes for my MBA1? Did you ever wonder what all those classes I took were? Lucky for you, I have a spreadsheet!

I did some colour coding, because everything is better with colour coding.

  • Dark purple is for the Integrated Core – this took the first 10 months of the program and included a whole whack of different subjects (Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behaviour, Supply Chain Management, Information Technology Management, Business Ethics, Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics), plus integrated case studies, a business simulation game, and a business plan).
  • Orange is for the post-core modules I took from the MBA program.
  • Green is for courses I took from outside of Sauder.
  • Yellow is for courses I took from the Executive MBA in Healthcare program at Sauder.

In conclusion, I learned a lot of stuff!

  1. Assuming I passed my Business Ethics exam. Knock on wood. []

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Nothing To See Here

I didn’t have time to write anything new and exciting here because I spent my evening (a) running around a track over and over again as part of the running study I’m in and (b) writing over on my other blog. As part of my digital marketing class, I have to write at least 5 blog postings1 on my “professional” blog2. I’d already written up three (one on brain science, an interview with Tod Maffin from engageQ, and an interview with Dr. Dan from Farm to Fork). So tonight I wrote up two more – one that I just posted and another that I’ll post tomorrow after I proofread it. And I’ve got one more in my brain that I just need to type out3 before Friday (which is our deadline to have postings up on our blogs for the prof to mark). All this to say, you should go check out my other blog if you are looking for something to read, though if you are looking for pictures of hot hockey players with no shirts on holding cats, you will be greatly disappointed.

  1. Because even though I’m done going to classes, I still have some assignments to wrap up. []
  2. For a “professional blog”, you have to actually do research and write something that adds value to the world, rather than just posting pictures of cats or hot hockey players with no shirts on or hot hockey players with no shirts on holding cats. Please tell me there are photos on the internets of hot hockey players with no shirts on holding cats… OK, I just Googled “hot hockey players with no shirts on holding cats” and there are NO photos of hot hockey players with no shirts on holding cats – at least not in the first few screens of the Google Image search results and, as I learned in my digital marketing class, nobody looks beyond the first few screens of any Google search results because we are all lazy. At any rate, clearly this is a blue ocean in the market and some entrepreneur should really get on that. []
  3. Since the app that reads my mind and types up the blog postings and various other brilliant ideas in my brain has still yet to be developed. Another blue ocean for you entrepreneurs out there! []

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Last class EVER

Tonight I go to the last class of my MBA program. Despite the fact that I’ve been talking about it non-stop for the last month, it’s still a bit surreal. As I reflect back on the 2 years of classes I’ve been to, I can honestly say that despite all the blood, sweat, tears, and insane amount of sleep deprivation of the last 24 months, it’s been pretty awesome. I’ve learned a tonne, been challenged in new ways, expanded my worldview, and made some fantastic friends. I’ve taken things that I’ve learned in school on the weekend and brought them back to the office and used them on Monday morning to do my work even better than I could before. One of the last things I have left to do in my program is finish up my “industry project” paper – I’m doing a project for work and because I’m able to apply the things I’ve been learning over the past 2 years and because I have a supervisor (from school) who is pushing me to go farther and work even harder on it, it’s going to be freaking awesome!

So, yeah, in conclusion, you have to be a bit insane and/or a masochist to take an intense program like a part-time MBA program while working full-time, but it’s totally worth it.

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Red Sharpie

I decided that the little red pen I’d been using to cross out the days left in school on the calendar just wasn’t quite satisfying enough, so I bought a red Sharpie.
Untitled

 

So good.

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Not That I’m Counting

But I only have 30 days left of school!

And I may have added a countdown clock to the right side of the blog.

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Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends

The other day I came home to a card in the mail. It’s not my birthday and it’s too early for Christmas cards (even for the most eager of Christmas fans), I thought, so what could it be? As it turned out, it was this:

Motivation

A card from my friend Dr. Erika, wishing me well on the home stretch of my MBA program. It arrived exactly when I needed exactly this kind of encouragement. I’m keeping it on my kitchen counter so that it’s the first thing that I see when I get home from a day of work or a night of class and it reminds me that I can do this!

And this is just the latest example of all the love and support and patience I’ve been getting from my friends over this past two years.

I have the best friends ever.