Continuing your education Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2007

Today, more and more adults are returning to the classroom to either finish working on an undergraduate degree or to earn a higher degree. Many of these students already have jobs and are returning to earn a degree that will potentially lead to a better job and higher pay.

However, how many times does a graduate degree actually lead to a better job?

“The degrees have not only been utilized to transition into another career, but they have also supplemented the work I do here on the Columbus Police Department,” says Keith Winn.

Winn graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2005. He also earned a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Management in 2007. He also worked full time as a police officer on the CPD and is a husband and father.

Smart Business talked to Winn about the advantages and disadvantages of returning to school while juggling the demands of everyday life.

Describe your experience as a student with full-time responsibilities.

The graduate work was a bridge program, bridging the Master of Science in Management and the Master of Business Administration, with the MBA requiring the completion of five additional courses. There was more in the concentration of quantitative coursework being completed to obtain the MBA.

Each course is a six-week class, one class at a time, one day a week. At the end of the course, there is a one-week break and then you go back and do the next six-week course. It took six to seven months to complete the entire program. I continued to work full-time for the Columbus Police Department and as a husband, a father and a student.

How does the bridge work?

After the school developed the MBA, it went to the Higher Learning Commission to get approval for the program. As a result, the school was able to cross over courses that were similar for requirement for completion. Since all of the courses crossed over, except for the need of additional quantitative coursework to be completed, Mount Vernon was able to bind the two programs together.

Compare the undergraduate workload to the graduate workload.

The undergraduate courses are the same style. Classes are taken one at a time. The length of time for the classes may range from four weeks to seven weeks.

The MBA program was strictly a six-week period of time for each class. Both were only one class, one night a week for four hours each. There were obviously less classes in the MBA program in comparison to the undergraduate program.

Why continue into the MBA program if you already had a good career?

The encouragement of the instructors. They saw something in me; the drive to learn more and study more, and they continued to encourage me to achieve more and to push forward.

Timing was also important. I liked the program and the style that Mount Vernon offered. One program led right into the next, and there was no break in service or class time. I knew the instructors, the programs and the university, and the instructors knew me. I had also developed quite a few friendships with my classmates. There were a lot of connecting points.

Was getting to class a hassle?

There are satellite campuses throughout the area, including one in Cincinnati, and I live pretty close to the ones I attended. I did my undergrad and MBA work at a campus that is probably two miles from my house. I earned the MSM at a campus that was 10 or 15 minutes away.

How will you use your graduate degrees?

I see myself changing careers. I signed a contract with Mount Vernon Nazarene University to teach part time and I have done some adjunct teaching. The school gave me the opportunity to teach part time with an even greater opportunity to teach full time upon the completion of my police work. I’m eligible to retire in three years, so I am starting the transition now. I will teach an introduction to strategic management this fall and hope to go back to school later to earn my doctorate.

The tools I’ve learned are valuable to me even now as a police officer. I just worked a diversity assignment running a recruiting department for the city, and I was able to incorporate a lot of the strategies, changed management courses, and leadership and financial classes into the strategic plans to help the city make adjustments.

KEITH WINN has earned two graduate degrees from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.