For some, an MBA is a final foray into higher education. Completing an online MBA program often involves juggling studies with the demands of full-time work and a busy personal life. No small achievement.
Take the case of Erik Luis who joined the Baylor online MBA program in 2015 but kept his studies a secret from his parents for two full years. The big reveal came just a few weeks before graduation through a scavenger hunt that Luis set up for his parents on the Baylor campus.
As a high school student, Luis fell in love with Baylor but instead chose a full scholarship to St. Mary's University for financial reasons. Earning a Baylor MBA meant the culmination of a shared dream for Luis, his brother and his parents 15 years after his first visit to campus. Luis walked at the Baylor commencement on December 15, 2017.
What's Your Reason for Attending Graduation?
Planning for graduation when you enroll in the program gives you something to look forward to. It can help you keep your eye on the prize, especially when the going gets tough.
Recent Baylor grads share their reasons for attending graduation.
Bond with "classmates."
2016 grad Kurt Fournier wanted to meet his online classmates in person. "There are several of us that have been in classes together the last two years. We're all looking forward to meeting up in Waco," he said before the ceremony.
Graduation offers an incentive for online students to visit the campus and meet their classmates and professors in person. Passing up the opportunity could mean they may never visit, considering the newly minted MBA will keep them plenty busy once they graduate.
Do it for family.Jenna Jackson did. "My mom especially wanted me to participate in it (graduation). She was very proud. It was a big deal for the entire family. Definitely a very proud moment," she said.
Quincy Jenkins also attended graduation for his parents. "I was told by my old football trainer Mike Simms that students don't walk the stage for themselves -- they walk the stage for their parents. I decided I would do that for my loved ones, no matter how uncomfortable I may have thought it would feel. Once I was there, it felt good to be around people," he said.
Inspire your kids.Nick Johnson attended his commencement to set an example for his son Zachary.
"At my Baylor graduation, I took Zachary over to (associate director for online MBA) Mrs. (Mary) Reinhardt, who was eating lunch with all of the professors. I asked her to give him the spiel on why to come to Baylor. All of them started in on him. We (my wife and I) drove around and showed him how beautiful the campus is, and I really feel like that impacted him in a positive way," said Johnson.
Celebrate a shared accomplishment.
When family members have pitched in to help you stay focused on the program, your cap-and-gown ceremony is a win for all. Rusty Sloane, who earned his MBA at age 51, had his wife and three of his daughters cheering him on. He believes their support was key to his success in the online program.
"The benefit to seeing their daddy walk across the stage has planted a seed that I could not have accomplished without this," Sloane said.
Visit a new place. Take a road trip.
Thanks to the online format, you could be living in New York or L.A. and still earn a Baylor MBA.
Attending commencement gives you a reason to visit the Baylor campus, considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Take a selfie or family shot by the statue of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, for whom the university is named, like online MBA grad Rusty Sloane did.
While in Waco, birthplace of Dr Pepper, you can visit the Dr Pepper Museum. You can also check out Waco's historic suspension bridge, float down the Brazos River and tuck into Texas barbecue for the full experience.
Dressing for Graduation
Baylor encourages commencement guests to wear dress clothes. Graduates are asked to refrain from wearing blue jeans, shorts, t-shirts or flip-flops, but you can have fun with your graduation cap -- decorate it in your own style.
If you care about the environment, you'll love the fact that "fabric for the robes is made from wood that is sourced exclusively from renewable, managed forests. Based on scientific research, if the robe is discarded, the fabric is proven to decompose in soil in one year."
Finish With a Flourish
Commencement kicks off life after graduation. You can celebrate your achievement, surrounded by others like you who made it to the finish line. You might even meet faculty members who inspired you or helped you stay the course.
Whether you go with friends and family or travel alone, you're sure to make memories and have a good story to tell.
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.
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