How to fit an RIT Online EMBA program into a busy life

imageMy name is Lacey Ryan. I’m a software engineer and technical account focal with IBM. I graduated from RIT with a BS in IT, back in 2001. I chose RIT above other technical schools partly because of the reputability and program options, but also because of the co-op program; not only do you graduate with a degree, you also get a résumé. Years later, after getting some industry experience under my belt, I moved into management. I knew instantly that IT management was the right career path for me. And I knew I needed more skills.


I had been considering an MBA for a while, but this job confirmed it for me. I kept working, kept learning, knowing in the back of my mind I would go back to school – not just for an MBA, but for the ability to lead the company: an Executive MBA. Fate gave me the necessary kick in the pants to do just that when my company declared bankruptcy, and sent me back to IT technical work. My EMBA search began immediately.

Of course I took the GMATs, back when I first decided I’d go back to school. I did well, but where I live, there are few options for MBA schools. I knew I couldn’t travel and hour-and-a-half (or more) to get to class. I had to keep working too, so travel just wasn’t going to fit my schedule. I needed a good school, and since it wasn’t going to be nearby, I needed one that offered an online version. As a busy professional, I had a few things I was juggling, and didn’t happen to notice my GMAT scores were expiring. When I finally sat down to decide on a school, I realized I needed a good online school that didn’t require GMAT scores (no way I was doing that mess again). RIT was always a frontrunner for each reason, but the only school that could give me all three.

The RIT Experience

RIT sets the bar high for students. Anyone who has experienced it will call it “challenging” or “intense.” In other words: “Man, I seriously cannot believe everything that I accomplished.” I thought I was ready for it, both times. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that the online program isn’t the same, isn’t as rigorous, and/or isn’t as interactive as the classroom; I thought that, too. I was ready to receive lessons (maybe pre-recorded even), and submit assignments, without any true two-way communication. But that’s just not how it works with RIT. You will learn a lot, and I mean a LOT. It’s just as intense, and you learn every bit of the material in a tight timeframe.

Your classmates, your teammates, you see them every day, and all hours of the day. You’ll be on your webcam or smartphone looking at those smiling (or not) faces all the time: from the office, the car, the hotel when you’re travelling, the family’s guest bedroom on the holidays. You name it, it’ll happen. If you’re like me, you might even see what fun effects your webcam will add to your face (like a Santa beard and hat in December) to try to just keep your teammates awake for one more hour to finish a project. Or you might catch each other sleeping and finally decide to hang up when one is snoring too loudly to keep going. Your classmates are like family. And that doesn’t stop when you graduate; then you just get to reminisce over a (virtual) drink when you get together on your webcams, about “man, I seriously can’t believe all we did!”

You’ll get to know your professors well too. Like when their cat hops in on the lecture they’re giving, or when they share their aquarium with you, or when they give a lesson from their own bedroom because it’s the only quiet room in the house. I dare say you’ll know them better than the on-campus students. I returned to campus a year after I had graduated (incidentally, when in Rochester I stay with one of my professors and his wife, who I now consider dear friends), and in a room of thousands of people I spotted one of my professors. I walked over and said, “Well hi Dr. Vic!” He turned, smiled and said, “Hi Lacey, good to see you!”

For me, I’m glad I took the chance. The online EMBA removed all the barriers I had from a quality education that has changed my trajectory. The things I learned were just the tip of the iceberg – the places I saw, experiences I lived, relationships I built, and person I’ve become – it’s all part of the RIT experience.

Click here to learn more about the RIT Online EMBA program.

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