WSU Summer 2020 Military Info Session with Military and Veterans Affairs Manager

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Jon Voss: Okay. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Washington State University webcast for the Online MBA program. We hope that you’re having a great day. Thank you for joining us on what may be your lunch break. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit more about the MBA program and really go over the benefits for our veterans and active duty military members and their experiences in the program. Starting off, logistically, we’re in broadcast only mode so you can hear me, but I can’t hear you. If you do want to ask a question at any time, please use the Q&A feature at the bottom of your screen. In addition, if you do have to jump off our webinar here, mid webinar, a recording will be sent out via email afterward so you can certainly review the information that way. The agenda then for today’s webinar … let’s just get back to the correct slide on that. The agenda for the webinar. Basically, we will have some introduction of the folks who are doing the webinars here. We’ll talk about the program and the admissions requirements. We’ll hear from our student veterans, go through the policies, talk through the support team for the program, the student perspective and then the very end of the webinar we will have a live Q&A opportunity, so that any questions that we didn’t cover, we can talk through them as a group.

Jon Voss: So the folks who are here with you today. My name is Jon, I’m the Senior Advisor with the MBA and Executive MBA programs here in Washington State. I’m very excited to be here with you. I’m able to handle any questions you have about admissions requirements, program logistics, that kind of thing. We have others here with us who can perhaps speak a bit more in detail about the way that the program relates to military and veteran affairs. So right away I want to kick it over to Matt Beer, the Military and Veteran Affairs Manager in Washington State University. Matt.

Matt Beer: Yeah, thanks Jon, and thanks everyone for being here and spending some time with us. Again, Matt Beer, Military and Veteran Affairs Manager here at the Carson College of Business, a Retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force is my experience and I get the great pleasure of being back here at my Alma mater and also helping a group of people that I really care deeply about, which is our student veterans. Hopefully, try and squeeze the most they can out of this MBA experience as they either continue their careers in the military or they pivot to something different. So I’m looking forward to chatting with you for the rest of the session here.

Jon Voss: Okay. We also have with us Heather Bui, from the US Navy. She is also a current Online MBA student at Washington State University. Heather.

Heather Bui: Hi, everybody. My name is Heather. I graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2015. I’ve been active duty since then and I’m currently finishing up my navigator tour on board USS Zumwalt. I’ve been in the MBA program with Washington State since May of 2018 and I’ve experienced quite extensively have to navigate through tuition assistance and deciding between TA and using GI Bill, and other VA benefits. So if you have any questions on that, please let me know.

Jon Voss: Thank you, Heather, so much for being here. We are lucky to have you. The next topic of conversation I want to move to is the legacy of the MBA program and really the legacy as it relates to our military and veteran students. So Matt, if you could jump back in here and share just a little bit more on that front.

Matt Beer: Yeah. So just real quickly before we get started, this is one of the reasons why I enjoyed coming back to Washington State and it’s one of the reasons why I continue to feel confident about our work with our student veterans. And that’s because it’s kind of in our DNA and the namesake of our college, Scott Carson, came to Washington State University back in 1963 on the GI Bill after serving with the Air Force in Vietnam. And he is a huge supporter of what we do. He’s a real inspirational guy and he just, it’s something that is part of our, again, it’s part of our DNA. It’s part of our legacy. And so I just wanted you guys to know that as we kind of launch into this conversation. Thanks, Jon.

Jon Voss: All right, Matt, thank you so much for sharing that information. The Carson College of course. Moving on to the curriculum of the program and I understand that a number of our attendees today have perhaps already attended one of our information sessions on either the Online MBA or the Executive MBA. So I am going to be moving through this content at a somewhat accelerated pace. If you have questions about it, save those perhaps for the Q&A session at the end of the webinar. And we can work through those as a group. So the first thing that I want to cover is the curriculum of the program. It is 100% online, and so a lot of our students will choose to come to campus walk at graduation, but that is not required. There’s no residency requirement, no immersion, nothing like that.

Jon Voss: In terms of program length, we’re looking at a general range of 22 to 29 months. The lower end is going to be for students who have completed some undergraduate business coursework already. 29 months would be for a student with no business coursework at all and most students are somewhere in the middle. The reason for that has to do with some foundation courses at the beginning of the program. If you are a person who’s entering our MBA without having done business coursework before, that’s actually quite typical and so we have some foundation courses at the very beginning to run you through the basics of business. There are concentrations associated with our MBA. We specialize in marketing, finance, international business and hospitality business management. The way that that works is that you will have three electives during your time in the program. Three elective classes. You can take whichever elective interest you most, but most of our students will choose to take all of their electives in one area, maybe marketing, maybe finance, whatever the case may be. If you do it that way and you do well in your classes, you graduate not just with your MBA but with a parallel graduate level certification in whichever area you selected. A good deal of our content is going to be fully self paced and on your own. So a lecture would be recorded. You can watch that on your own time. Reading of courses on your own as well. Having said that, there are going to be live sessions associated with class every week. They are optional and they get recorded, so if you can’t make it, it’s not the end of the world, but those live sessions are highly interactive. You’re there with your professor, your section leader, the other students in your program. And so they are discussion-based. You have a good opportunity to chime in and that’s a good way to get to network and know the students in your program as well.

Jon Voss: There is a capstone project, kind of a final presentation at the very end of the program. This is oftentimes building out your own business plan or product idea. It is fundamentally a design project where you kind of take your first attempt at designing something. You then make changes based on feedback from leadership and your professors and ultimately you’ll kind of present the best version of that project. Finally, from a curriculum standpoint, I want to talk about the international field study. You can see on your screen that it is optional and so it’s important to note that international travel is not required as a part of the program, but a lot of our students do look forward to this. We’ve done trips all over the world. We have done Finland, Estonia, Chile, different locations in China. This year we are headed to Prague. It’s an international immersion that is a, definitely a highlight for those who participate. We do some cultural appreciation and sightseeing, but fundamentally this is a business trip where our professors are leveraging their international business experience to put together a really informative trip for you.

Jon Voss: Moving on then. Just to some of the nuts and bolts of the program. Again, 22 to 29 months. It’s completely online. Class size is something that comes up as a common question. We would typically see 25 to 30 students in our classes. There can be some variance depending on the class in question, but even your most crowded, most popular class is going to be small enough that it feels very personal where you have a good idea of all of the other students in the class and you have a direct line to your professor.

Jon Voss: In terms of course structure, this is unique with our program where we are basically doing one class at a time all the way through the program. The only exception is at the very end, you might be working on your final class alongside the capstone project, but we don’t want you getting your wires crossed between your professional obligations, your personal life, and then graduate level coursework on top of that. So this way you are not forced to prioritize what’s due in one class versus anything else, one class at a time. Finally, a tuition cost. For members of the military that’s active duty or veteran status, we are $732 per credit hour for our military students instead of the usual 834. You’ll see on the screen in front of you that the number of credit hours required to complete the MBA can change from student to student. It has to do with your undergraduate experience. And so I would encourage anyone who is planning on applying to the program to reach out and touch base with an Enrollment Advisor to determine how many credits are going to be required for you. In terms of admission requirements. The application basically breaks down to four big documents. You will see an online application where you upload copies of your official transcripts from all universities attended. If you’re having any issues tracking down a copy of your transcripts or you’re not sure how to order them, touch base with an Enrollment Advisor, they have a lot of familiarity in that arena. So the transcripts, will need a copy of your resume. Basically breaking down work experience to date. Beyond that, there is a short personal statement, basically one page, 500 words. The resume tells us what you’ve done so far.

Jon Voss: That personal statement should be geared toward where you’re hoping to go, what you’re hoping to do, what you bring to the table in terms of an MBA candidate at Washington State. Finally, we’ll lead one letter of recommendation as part of the application. You are welcome to include a few more, but one letter of recommendation is required. That could be professionally, your direct supervisor. If you are still active duty, it could be a leadership within whichever branch of the military you currently serve. There is not a work experience requirement. Typically, in terms of a grade point average, we are looking for a 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale, so a B average. Having said that, if you are at all concerned about your academic performance to date, talk to an Enrollment Advisor. We see situations all the time of students who did better in their final two years of school compared to the earlier classes. Students who maybe their undergraduate performance is not perfect but their work experience is stellar. Those are all things that we look at.

Jon Voss: The GMAT is something that comes up as a question from students a lot. There’s a GMAT waiver available for qualified applicants. This is something that, again, talk to an enrollment advise about how to qualify for a GMAT waiver. If you are including a GMAT score with your application, though, the typical successful candidate would have a 550 or above. That’s basically the 50th percentile. GMAT waiver questions. There are basically five things that we look for, for a student who wants to qualify to apply for a GMAT waiver. Number one, if you already hold a professional or graduate degree, you might be eligible for a GMAT waiver. Second, if you have five plus years of progressive work experience, again with a 3.0 or above. Third, you might hold a degree in a STEM field again with a 3.0 or above. Fourth, if you hold an undergraduate business degree from an AACSB accredited institution, again with a strong GPA, you may qualify for a GMAT waiver. If you’re not sure if your undergraduate institution was AACSB accredited, chat with an Enrollment Advisor. Finally, if you’ve been out of school for a while, 10 plus years of progressive work experience and a 2.79 grade point average or above would mean that you may qualify for a GMAT waiver. Moving along then, next slide kind of talks about the MBA programs here in our student veterans. And so there again, I want to invite Matt Beer to tell us just a little bit more about how our student veterans with the online and the executive MBA.

Matt Beer: Cool. Thanks, Jon. So yeah, I just want to give you a quick sense of who’s kind of in the program. So for our Online MBA, we have about 15% of a cohort is affiliated with the military in some way, shape or form, right? Active duty, guard, reserve, veteran or spouse, and of all those students, which at current is a little over a hundred and some, about probably 40% of them are plus or minus four years of transitioning out of the military. So, that’s sometimes who we tend to be looking at. About 13% are female. We do have a pretty high concentration here in Washington State, but the reality is our students are all over the country and all around the globe. Graduation rate is commensurate with their peers. For the Executive MBA online it’s about 11%, they tend to be a little closer to transition, smaller number of females in that cohort, more and more of them are located here in the West Point, or West Coast rather.

Matt Beer: And again, the graduation rate is a little bit higher actually than their peers. And the students there, obviously I stole Heather’s picture and stuck her up there. And then the gentleman there is Shane Sullivan. He actually is a manager of an aerial firefighting operation up in Spokane and he’s a retired a Navy veteran. So, they’re kind of representative of those two groups. One of the big things that I’ve been working on and that I really like to kind of press, because I think it’s important for our veteran community as a network. My PowerPoint skills need a little work. I didn’t get the map up there of the entire globe, but you can kind of see a heat map of where our students are in the United States. And on the right hand side you just kind of see a list of where people work. Really, it’s kind of indicative of the program. We have students in every branch of the service. We also have students really in every sector of the private market too, and that’s really awesome, because one of the things I like to do the best is connect people with other folks that they can kind of grow from as they go through this course. In terms of the program, kind of what we have laid out, so my role here really isn’t delving too deep into the benefits. We do have folks who do that and I like to advocate for that, but what I’m really working on is trying to help our students get a better return on investment. And the way that works, it starts with an assessment. So you kind of see the little roadmap up there in the top left hand corner.

Matt Beer: It starts with a professional assessment that we just started this Spring. So the students can kind of figure out where they’re at in terms of some of those skills. And then that’ll also inform them as they pick and choose from some of the extra curricular opportunities that we’ll have over the course of their journey. And then it’ll end with a reassessment of kind of like, hey, did I get out of this what I thought I was going to? And hopefully they’ll see a move in the needle and hopefully we will too. So we can kind of adjust fire on some of those programs that we have. And the three big elements really are career design, tactical skills, and then some live events to connect people. Career design, I defer to the experts on that, but there’s a lot of organizations out there, nonprofit, that do some great work and I really love to refer our students to those. And then some other resources, whether they be text or online, the tactical skills are what you might expect, resume, LinkedIn profiles, networking, things like that. And we usually do those through webinars. And we’ve also recently hired a resume review specialist to do that. So we’re growing that program out, excited about where that’s going. And the last piece is of live events. So we do have a few events throughout the course of the year that we invite folks to. Some of them tend to be here in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s other events like the MBA Veterans Conference in Chicago that we help students funding to get there to participate. And again, the big goal is network because I think that’s the one key thing. I mean, when you leave the program you want to be able to say that you’ve met some people that you hadn’t met before.

Matt Beer: Hopefully expanded that professional network. So whatever it is you’re doing, you have some people that you can reach out to. The bottom half of this slide just kind of shows what was going on this Spring. So we invited one of our alumni, go back to the previous slide, if we could, Jon. It’s an industry webinar. So we had one of our alumni come back and then we had a resume webinars coming up in March. So that’s going to be awesome. Holly’s going to run that. She’s fantastic. And then on the 3rd of May we’re going to get together and we have as kind of a leadership culture book that we, is really a good cross pollination between our military students and our civilian students because they do tend to learn a lot from one another. So, that’s kind of a quick hit of some of the programs that we have going on. I just want to throw this slide up. It’s got a lot on it, but I’ll summarize it by saying we do have a pretty good team here that will help you navigate your way through benefits. Everybody uses a little bit different and so we’ll keep you on track as far as that goes and feel free to reach out with me if you have any initial questions. And I’ll send it back to you, Jon, for the student support.

Jon Voss: All right. Thank you for all of that information that really pertains only to our military students, to our veterans students. Regarding student support, if you are looking to enroll in the program, get yourself admitted, the first step is to reach out and touch base with one of the Enrollment Advisors here on the team. They can answer questions about your candidacy, your admissions, maybe a GMAT waiver, that kind of thing. We also have the student support advisor. They will work with you once you’re admitted to make sure you’re registering for the right classes, that you’re on track to graduate on time, that kind of thing. We have robust tech support both in terms of MyWSU, Tube Tech, which is our IT team here on campus. Very supportive. 24/7 tech support. In terms of the class sizes, they’re smaller. Again, it feels very personal. You’ll see a lot of the same names and faces throughout the program. Get to know one another. And then your section instructors as well. Basically a second professor in your program, in your class. They are there so that rather than having say a one to 30 student to teacher ratio, it’s closer to one to 15, so you have a direct line of connection to make sure that if you have questions about your class, questions about content, about assignments, they are kind of your direct line, your direct point of support as you’re moving through the program.

Jon Voss: Our final slide then before we get to any question and answer type pieces, is a day in the life, which Heather, I want to send that to you for an opportunity to share with us just a little bit more about what you’ve seen, and you’re coming up on two years in the program. But what you’ve seen as a member of the Navy doing your MBA alongside of that.

Heather Bui: Okay, sounds good, Jon. And so I’ve actually been doing my MBA while I’ve been on sea duty. So one of the challenges I had was finding a program that would accommodate my underway schedules and Washington State has been everything I could have imagined and more. So in the day in the life for somebody in port. So all of the live sessions happen on Monday evenings. I am very, very rarely able to attend, but all of them are recorded. So I’ve been able to listen to them either on my phone, on the Blackboard app, or the Zoom app. And then I can also watch them on my own time. So, that’s been very flexible. And then for workload it’s usually between like 10 and 20 hours a week. All of the professors and the section leaders are very accommodating to military students and any of their needs. So for example, one time I needed to take a quiz, but I was underway and I didn’t have the bandwidth to take the quiz. So then the section instructor put the quiz into a Microsoft Word document so that I would be able to take it. And then I had to tie myself and find a Window to do so. But I was able to do that without missing a deadline. I was also able to reach out to professors in advance for course material information so that I could get the materials I needed prior to departing on an underway for upwards of like eight weeks. So and all of that advanced notice and professors will provide any of their live sessions that hasn’t been recorded in previous semesters, so that I had something to go off of while I was underway. So if you have any concerns about doing this on sea duty, yes, it would be very tough, but also doable. And then for if you’re on shore duty or have a lighter schedule at work, then Washington State’s program is super flexible and the workload just, it requires some discipline. But I would say it would take me, when I was taking one class at a time, at least half a day on the weekends and then at least one week night, if given the opportunity. And then on the last year of the program you’ll be taking a capstone class in addition to your one course. And that’s been a little bit of an added when it comes to time, so I would say right now I’m in my first part of the capstone so my workload is closer on the 15 to 20 hours a week, vice the 10 to 15.

Jon Voss: All right, perfect. Well Heather, thank you so much for sharing all that information. Kind of giving us an idea of what it looks like for someone who’s active duty alongside their MBA coursework. Final slide, before we kind of turn this over to any live question and answer, really has to do with a little bit more information about if you are wanting to learn more about the program moving forward. The next opportunity to start classes is early May. That’s the start of our summer semester. We are currently accepting applications for that term. We are accepting those applications all the way until mid April, so you still have like seven weeks to connect with an Enrollment Advisor, complete the application, get everything over to the Program Director, receive your admissions decision, hopefully a good one, and prepare to start the program. We also have a number of other start dates later in the year. So if you’re thinking May sounds a little bit too soon, but maybe the end of summer, chat with an Enrollment Advisor, we can of course look at a Fall start, something like that. The first step in that process, there’s a toll free number at the bottom of your screen, (877) 348-8154. You can also use our online scheduler, the SITA, which puts you in contact with our outreach team here. You would then be assigned to an Enrollment Advisor and you’d find a time to chat for 15 or 20 minutes about the application process.

Jon Voss: So, that’s kind of where we are in terms of getting you ready to start the program sometime this year. With our remaining time today, I want to take some time for question and answer. So if any of our webinar attendees present today have questions about the program, you didn’t put them in the chat box yet, but there’s something kind of pressing at the front of your mind, something you’re curious about, please do put that in the chat box. If it is something that we should answer for the group, we’ll talk about it as a group. Otherwise, if it’s more particular we’ll certainly write back to you in the chat. It looks like a question has come in maybe about audio issues.

Matt Beer: I would just add one thing, Jon, while we’re waiting to see. This is Matt, if there’s any other questions, and that is if you are interested in the program and if you would like to talk to a current student, someone who maybe has similar experiences yours, please talk to your EA or feel free to contact me. I’m more than happy to connect you with someone who’s kind of been living what you’re living because I know that’s kind of important and can speak to that point as well.

Jon Voss: We do have a question here from a potential student asking about potential to combine military tuition assistance with federal student loans. Matt, is that something that you have any experience in handling?

Matt Beer: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a lot of different ways to resource the education and of course tuition assistance is one of them, but it’s not going to get you all the way there, right? And so yeah, folks do use federal student loans in conjunction with tuition assistance. That is one way to do it. The other one obviously is some people use their invest in themselves and use proportion of their GI Bill to do that there. There aren’t a ton of scholarships out there. There are few and far between. But, those are things that sometimes students can come across as well. Heather, I don’t know if you have any thoughts about that you might want to share with the group?

Heather Bui: No. I didn’t pursue the federal loan option, so I chose to use my own savings accounts to make up the difference.

Matt Beer: Okay, thanks. Yeah, I appreciate that.

Jon Voss: Thanks for your feedback, both Matt and Heather, on kind of that front. Other questions. A lot of the times students will wonder when can we expect to hear if we are accepted into the program after we’ve applied. I think our Program Director does a really nice job of getting your admissions decision back to you pretty quickly. So once that application is completed and we have your resume, your transcripts, recommendation letter, personal statement, once that’s handed off to the Program Director, we would usually have a decision back to you within two weeks regarding your being admitted to the program. Sometimes it’s a lot faster than that, but I never want to over promise. So two weeks is a fair estimate in terms of how long it would take before you would know if you’re admitted or not. Another question here relating to some financing here, needing to work with the school and Veteran Affairs for financial assistance. Who can I work with? I don’t want to speak out of turn, but Matt, I think that’s kind of your department as well. Am I correct there?

Matt Beer: Absolutely. So we have what we, if you Google WSU Veterans, you’ll come across to our veterans page and those folks are the ones who are super smart. So, that’s your first stop. If you ever have any questions or concerns, definitely you can talk to me and I can get you pointed in the right direction so that we have a Vet Court Navigator on campus, who’s real smart with benefits, and then the certifying official who also is smart on those things. So they’re the ones who actually process your paperwork in a timely manner. But, I’m happy to get you started.

Jon Voss: Very good. Thank you, Matt. Last question here looks like with military and needing to take breaks in the program, are there any time constraints to completing the MBA or the Executive MBA? And this is the last question we’ll do. Short answer is you have a good amount of flexibility to extend your program, if need be. So program can be completed in roughly two years depending on your undergraduate education. But, if you are needing to take a break for any number of reasons, maybe it’s a deployment type issue, maybe it’s just a life event, family, something like that. You would chat with your student support advisor, you would advise them of the situation. They would make the accommodating adjustments to your schedule and that way if you need to take some breaks intermittently throughout the program, you can do so. But front to back you have up to six years to complete the degree. Not that a lot of students are trying to take that long, but it is very flexible. Not just one class at a time, but if you need to take some time off we can do that as well.

Jon Voss: All right, well I think that about does it for us here today. We’re at about that half hour mark, which is what we were shooting for. Thank you all so much for being here. I hope that we answered all of your questions. If not, or if another question arises, please do connect with one of the Enrollment Advisors with the admissions team here at Washington State University. We’ll do all that we can to answer your questions and prepare the best application possible for you. Thanks again. Matt, Heather, thanks again for being here with us and answering all those questions.

Matt Beer: Absolutely, thanks.

Heather Bui: No problem. Have a good one. Thank you.

Jon Voss: All right. Take care, everybody.