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Advice on Open University Degrees / Business School

 
#1 Advice on Open University Degrees / Business School
05/02/2006 16:09

David

Hi everyone

I am looking for some advice on two points:

1. Open University degrees, the likely reception to them by recruiters, and their relevance to consultancy

2. Applications to business schools

I graduated from Cambridge in 2003 with a 2:2 in Geography, and followed this with a year working at the student's union. I have since worked for a market research organisation, and am now working for a niche consultancy specialising in sales strategy and execution for small software firms. I am also a member of the reserve forces.

With regards Open University degrees, i feel that i underperformed in my first degree - but don't have the resources to set this straight by completion of an MSc/MA. I am numerically strong, but my first degree does not reflect this well. I am considering doing an Open degree - BSc (Hons) - with the Open University, which will allow me to complete courses in quantitative management-related subjects. The benefit of this is that my first degree will count and as such I would only need to complete the equivalent of a third of a degree to be awarded a degree by the OU. Secondly, I am confident that i would also achieve a significantly higher degree class than in my first undergraduate degree. I would like to hear people's thoughts on:

a) How this endeavour might benefit my skills base

b) The reception that OU Open degrees receive from recruiters (especially in the large strategy houses), particularly if they are second degrees

c) The general logic behind my thinking

Bearing in mind the situation above, i do aspire to do an MBA in the future - i have my sights set on LBS / CASS. Based on the information above, what would i need to do to meet the entry requirements for these sorts of institutions?

Thoughts greatly appreciated - thanks in advance!

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#2 Re: Advice on Open University Degrees / Business School
06/02/2006 10:00

RG

Cass, you would probably be OK. LBS, you will need a pretty good GMAT and work experience to compensate for the not-so-great first degree (albeit from Cambridge). They will be aware that Cambridge awards a particularly high proportion of I's and II.i's, and equally aware that there is a significant overlap between the academic ability of a given cohort at Cambridge with that of any other decent university. By no means insurmountable though - you will just have to prove you are indeed one of the brightest.

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#3 Re: Advice on Open University Degrees / Business School
06/02/2006 11:30

simon

I have completed both distance learning and full time Masters degrees. In terms of adding to your skills I would recommend the OU for hard skills such as Finance or Statistics. However soft skills such as teamwork or leadership are better acquired on a full time course where there is the opportunity of working with other people.

The job market will not value a second "first" degree even if you graduate top of class. You also need to be careful that you do not exceed consultancy age limits. They all claim not to be ageist. However they will basically recruit at three levels - graduates, MBAs or experienced. A dustman who started late on a degree and MBA and graduated top of class aged 35 would be unlikely to get an interview at a Strategy Consultancy.

I recall from my MBA that the people who got the most interviews were those with the least experience. If you are under 28 with a Cambridge degree (even a 2.2) and a quality MBA then you will get interviews. Too much experience/age and you are overqualified for MBA entry.

If I were you I would try to get on a good MBA programme right now (e.g. LBS, Insead, Rotterdam, IESE, Manchester). If you can't then talk to their admissions about what you should do to get a place in two years time.

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#4 Re: Advice on Open University Degrees / Business School
07/02/2006 08:06

Garry

Hi David, I'd echo some of the advice given by others. Don't worry about doing a second first degree. Better that you set your sights on an MBA now. OU degrees are fine and well respected - the disadvantage, as others have said, is the lack of interaction with others and, therefore, the ability to develop softer skills (although tutorials and summer schools help).

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