I just joined the forum, and it looks like a great place so far. It also seems that the majority of the forum is focused on (or students at) the top graduate B-schools that there are. It is very cool to read about all of your experiences, and seeing you share your knowledge with those who are thinking about getting their MBAs.
I do not know if there is anyone on the board like me however. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person. However I wasn't born into the greatest circumstances....and I've had many (many, many) setbacks both professionally and academically. I graduated in the top 5% of my high school class of 403, so I knew that I was going to college (in spite of having no money at all to do so). I opted for a private university far from home (not too smart) at first. However my family was really, super low income (I think my mother made $14K per year...back in 1997), and I opted to transfer to a larger public university closer to home. Even with that, I worked 3 jobs to stay afloat. My grades were mediocre and I didn't have a clue what I wanted in life. So I dropped out.
I worked some odd jobs until I got an opportunity to work in the real estate/insurance industry. Not only did I learn a lot, but I gained a lot of confidence in that I worked with attorney's, CPAs, MBAs, etc. Not on their level obviously...but to the point where they trusted and respected my opinion. Most were surprised to find out that I did not graduate from college. I was promoted pretty rapidly and went from making $25K as a legal assistant to $42K as an escrow accountant over the course of 3 years. I was not rolling in money, but I was able to support and take care of myself. I thought I was on a good trajectory
However I was on my way to work one day, and was involved in a very serious car accident. I was in the hospital for 5 weeks. My job was very gracious and kept me "on the books" until they made the determination for a long-term disability payout. From there, I collected unemployment...for over a year.
Since doing nothing at all was driving me up the wall, I decided to go back to school...albeit online. However, after working with some amazing advisors, they worked me through getting a BA in liberal arts before the year was finished. I was pretty amazed. That and college was an entirely different experience for me this time around...being that I did not have to work. My dismal previous GPA was brought up significantly (GPA in my last 30 cr was 3.8!).
Although I had a liberal arts degree, I opted for a minor in business. Working for small businesses had exposed me to all of the different ins and outs of a company and the business curriculum covered most of these areas. So I opted to apply for MBA programs. However I also needed to deal with the prospect of going back to work. My unemployment was running out and I would need to do something for income. So I called a temp agency and started work part-time as an administrative assistant. Eventually, that led to the position I have now...which is called 'management technician'...but I am really an admin assistant.
My lackluster academics and GMAT score presented me with some limited choices in regards to MBA programs. I read and read reviews and rankings anywhere; however my final decision rested on the fact that it would be hard to do worse than what I am doing right now. Although I work full-time, my monthly take home pay just barely clears $1500.
Also I live on my own so what I make is all there is. Full-time MBA programs, for all that they offer in regards to opportunities and networking, still don't guarantee jobs. I had to think about the return on investment here. The MBA program I opted for will ultimately cost less than $20K, is AACSB accredited, and online.
If there are any other out there who are still on an entry-level work level, unemployed or lacking experience, it would be great to hear your stories as well. This also goes for those who are in online programs.
I will say that although my program is online and 'unranked'...the professors do assume that you are coming from professional experience. Luckily in my case I did have this experience in the past. Also I am the National President of a sorority so I can offer a lot of experience and antidotes there...with managing a multi-branch non-profit (no one needs to know that we are small...and that my position there is unpaid). My peers also are working professionals. So I would imagine that it would be very tough for those who have no work experience whatsoever.