College Advising for Adults on the 12-Year Plan
May 15, 2016 2:04 PM   Subscribe

How do I choose a degree and a school as an adult? I'm comparing a BA with a BBA at two regional schools.

It looks like I'll be finishing my AA this fall at community college this summer. I really feel like a BA/BS would help me continue working abroad for a few more years. I'm thinking I'd like to transition from fro working in tourism and occasionally teaching to NGO work, stepping up a level as a teacher, or starting a business. I'm currently looking at a BA in Economics from the University of Missouri KC or a
BBA in International Business and Economics online from Fort Hays State. If choosing a BBA from Fort Hays will allow me to graduate debt-free, and gave me a lot more flexibility in my schedule, is there any reason to choose the BA at UMKC?
posted by piedmont to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Both are business degrees and seem fine for what you're interested in (except teaching, which in the US would require a very different degree). If business is your primary interest, I would just do the one that's cheaper.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:51 PM on May 15, 2016

I'd want to know more about the post-graduation employment statistics for each program. I've never heard of Fort Hays State (but I'm not from your area, so it's possible that it's well-known where you are), but UMKC is larger and has a more-well known reputation. If you want to teach or do NGO work internationally, the prestige of a more well-known degree, especially one that is recognized outside of your geographical area, might be worth paying for. I'd look up statistics and information about what kinds of jobs graduates have, including how many of them are actually finding jobs in the kinds of fields you're hoping to break into. If you want to start your own business, it may not matter, but if you want to apply for jobs, especially prestigious jobs, outside of the Missouri/Kansas area, it may matter a lot.
posted by decathecting at 4:59 PM on May 15, 2016

Your goals still seem pretty vague, which is fine, but it makes it a little harder to advise on the best degree. For working in an NGO, I would suggest that the most important thing is going to be getting experience before you graduate, so I would look for a school with a good record of placing students in internships, and maybe even funding assistance for that (if, for instance, you get an internship at some agency in DC or an NGO abroad).
posted by lunasol at 5:51 PM on May 15, 2016

is there any reason to choose the BA at UMKC?

This all depends on your goals and what the benefit of a college degree are.

If you already have a job, particularly in the public sector, and the college degree is a necessary credential for you to advance or get a raise, then the online BBA will be fine.

On the other hand, if you plan to go on the open job market looking for a job and plan to get internships based on your studies, then an education in Economics at a state university will be taken much more seriously.
posted by deanc at 6:12 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think the degrees are interchangeable. Fort Hays is definitely a business degree--the required intro courses are all business stuff--and UMKC is definitely not. My gut (and this may say more about my biases than anything else--I'm not in a position where I'd ever see a resume from someone with either degree, only math or CS majors) is that the UMKC degree is a better general purpose degree. They're not trying to teach you to be an economist (though I'm sure they'd be overjoyed to have a student wanting to be an economist), they're trying to teach you something about economics and make sure you have a strong baseline for learning in general. Fort Hays is more focused on trying to teach you some business skills and I think that'll come at the cost of "learning how to learn".

If you're in a position where you're going to be making business decisions for an NGO imminently or running your own business, Fort Hays is the clear choice. If you're going to be applying for jobs as a recent graduate (as opposed to applying for jobs mainly on the strength of your experience, now with added degree!), I think UMKC wins because an econ degree is "stronger" than a business degree (no one hires recently graduated business majors to make business decisions--they hire recent graduates (of all majors) to either do grunt work or learn and I think (see aforementioned bias) that the econ degree does a better job of conveying "I can learn things). If you're in a position where the biggest concern is getting a four year degree, it's a wash.

(except teaching, which in the US would require a very different degree)

It looks like UMKC has an option (scroll down) for picking up a teaching certificate as an econ major.
posted by hoyland at 4:53 AM on May 16, 2016

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