Meet Entrepreneur & MBA Student, Tim McCormack
The first time Tim McCormack went to college, funding issues got in the way. Several years in the workforce in a variety of sales and Internet marketing positions were enough to make him realize that obtaining a bachelors degree would be beneficial. A stint living abroad in the Dominican Republic led to his choice of the BS in business from online powerhouse University of Phoenix.
But with business degree and work experience in hand, Tim still felt that he was missing some of the core business principles needed to truly be a mover and a shaker, and started investigating MBA programs in his home state of California.
The program focus, atmosphere and a full-ride merit-based scholarship led to his choice of the Graziadio School of Business & Management at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. An April 2007 MBA candidate focusing on entrepreneurial management, Tim is involved in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities at Pepperdine. “For me, the networking and career advancement opportunities found in campus organizations are as important as anything I’ve learned,” he says.
He’s already building on his leadership skills through his various activities, which include being the founder and president of the Executive Alliance club, which focuses on bringing alumni, students and the community together with a common business bonding method, golf. “I never had played golf before, and I wanted to learn how to play. So I decided to start a club that focuses on golf and golf training as a way to tie in to our huge alumni groups, as well the fully-employed MBA students and other people from the communities,” he says.
Education Information & Advice
How did you initially decide to pursue a BS in business management, and then an MBA in entrepreneurial management?
What it came down to for me is I have a broad range of interests; I wasn’t sure what I was going to end up doing. That’s the biggest reason I went into business. I did a couple of years of college right out of high school, and then had a funding failure. So I went and worked for a long time, which made me realize how much I needed the undergrad degree. After being in the work world for a couple years, it made it easy for me to decide to get a degree in business.
For me, the MBA was really a no-brainer, there are so many reasons it was perfect for me to get it now. I had been living out of the country, so some of my local business contacts had dried up. As the world progresses, you used to have to get a high school degree or you were nothing, now you pretty much have to get a college degree to get a good job, so anything extra you can do is beneficial. There are a lot of people out there with MBAs, but it still sets you apart, and it’s definitely worth the effort. The University of Phoenix is great university for a lot of things, but I didn’t feel like I learned enough about the core principles of business that I needed to understand to go into advanced management, so the MBA worked out perfectly.
How did you choose University of Phoenix for your undergrad studies?
I knew I was going to be going abroad, and I really wanted to get my degree, so it was pretty much my only option. University of Phoenix was the only online university that was accredited. I needed to get my degree, and I was going to be in a situation where I had time to study, but still needed to work. I didn’t want to go to the one of the universities abroad because they aren’t recognized in the U.S.
How did your online University of Phoenix education meet your expectations? Any downfalls?
There are positives and negatives to classes online. An overview of how its works is you have one class at a time, each class lasts five weeks; you really cram on one class, then move on to the next class. It’s set up where they have what they call an online newsroom, sort of a chatroom, where the teacher posts lectures weekly, and students are required to post as part of class participation. There is a large amount of class participation that is required; we had to make sustentative postings; so there is a lot of writing. One of the strengths of the program is the fellow students, everyone is working together to help their fellow students. There is a positive side to all the postings; it’s very good for developing writing skills. I was a good writer before, now I’m a great writer, and can write very quickly. You do work in teams, and you get assigned team projects. That’s good, because business is all about teams these days; it’s definitely the buzz theory. It does give you experience working in teams, which was beneficial for me. Now that I’m at Pepperdine, we are constantly working in teams, so it was good training for me.
On the downside, certain classes really do not lend themselves to the online environment, and presently, it seems like there’s no real way to execute that on line. For instance, I took two accounting classes, and I still got kicked in the teeth with my first serious accounting class in Pepperdine. I’m sure that’s not too uncommon. Accounting, statistics, classes that require a lot of questions are difficult online; for one assignment, you may have 20 questions, and waiting a day or two for a response makes it difficult. I really learned to do a lot on my own. For some classes, it would have been a lot easier if I would have had someone that I could have asked questions to directly, even classmates. As for prestige-wise, I did have concerns about getting into grad school with an online undergrad degree; some of the top universities won’t even look at you. You will want to look at that, because if you want to get into top 20 business schools, you might have a tough time. There are also definitely some businesses that don’t view University of Phoenix the same as a traditional four-year university. Given my situation at the time, the University of Phoenix was perfect and it worked well. It’s a growing university, with 250,000 students.
What led you to Pepperdine University for your MBA current studies?
I was going to be moving back to the Los Angeles area, and as far as I know, UCLA, USC or Pepperdine are the big choices. Due to some timetable issues, when I started looking at getting my MBA, I planned to apply to start in the following year. I came in and had an interview at Pepperdine, and the people were incredible. They were very helpful, friendly and they really bent over backwards to make things work for me, they were very accommodating. They let me apply late after the deadline, and discussed scholarship options. I actually got 100% scholarship from them, which helped in my decision considerably.