Opinion: Memes from Mason's Arlington Graduates

Arlington Campus Founders Hall (Photo by Evan Stancil)












Before the curtain closes at the Patriot center and droves of students celebrate the close of their academic adventure, there is time for self and program reflection for fellow Patriots.  For the graduating Arlington student body there is far less school spirit on average, but that doesn’t mean the interest in the program’s long-term success is any less significant. In fact, it might be greater from the looks of things. I myself feel particularly invested in seeing the school succeed for future Mason grads.

For my last student editor story I set out to capture a small sample size from Arlington graduate school students, a majority comprised of MBA students who are poised to be the future business leaders of America. After speaking with these soon-to-be graduates from Arlington’s campus, it’s evident that an intrinsic interest in President Ángel Cabrera's vision for the graduate school student body is of utmost importance. In particular, is the school’s ability to revive top-notch programs, which recently suffered considerable drops in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, especially the law and MBA programs.

To remain as one of the top state schools in Virginia, many students who I’ve spoken with, have indicated formalizing a branding strategy and one that fosters better communication amongst the administration to students, builds stronger networks and better prepares students for the working world after graduation.

The sample size was set to10 graduate students who were polled on their experience they’ve had at the university. The average score held up at a 6, where on the scale of 1 to 10 a 10 was indicative of the best possible experience. Most students said they would or already have recommended Mason to friends, while some said that it really depends on what the student is looking for from their program. Some of the more interesting recommendations were given by students that are intrigued in how the program will operate moving forward under tighter budget constraints and a more competitive pool of candidates, given the state of the economy and success of more widely-known and established private programs in the area.

A majority of students indicated the need for a better communication plan and helping cater towards Arlington student interests for class selection. I can appreciate that suggestion, as it seems to be an issue with most programs who have campuses that are not located by the main campus. Officially speaking, Arlington is not called a “satellite” campus, even though it has that feel and some undergraduates kindly refer to it as "Mason's sister campus."

The academic value and cost were the main draw for 9 out of 10 students interviewed, including myself. You truly get what you put into your program at Mason. As Leigh Rizzo, graduating MBA student, indicates, “the most valuable take-away from this program was the network of people…I loved going through the program with a cohort.” For her and Kalyn Saylor, a graduating arts management student, their expectations were met by their programs and have both made important connections.

As far as improvements for the Arlington campus, there were some seen physically during my academic tenure with the university. The construction of Founders Hall adds a professional element and gives the campus the much needed upgrade that makes it a fixture in the North Arlington/D.C. professional community.

The difficult part that remains ahead for the administration will be matching a new and innovative facility with high caliber professional development events and a program branding strategy to continue fostering the graduate campus’ growth. As graduating MBA student Sean Barnes states, “I think the Arlington location is a long term strategic asset.” In part because of the geography but also the professors who comprise the school and lay the foundation for the students to follow..

I for one am leaving the MBA program with a different view on the business world and more confidence from the connections and professors who have helped sculpt my experience. Like many of the students from Arlington though, we are interested in what the vision for the graduate programs hold and how the school will continue to foster top-talented faculty, students and improve upon administrative communication moving forward.

Thanks to those who kept up and read something via the Arlington blog in its very first attempt on Connect2Mason. To all those graduating – best of luck!!

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