Five EMBA students and alumni share their experience with self-sponsorship in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives and why it was worth the investment.

Once you’ve decided to go for an MBA, an important next step is figuring out how to pay for it. For the two-thirds of our students who are self-sponsored, most rely on multiple funding sources. Those typically include personal resources, educational loans, and external scholarships.

We asked several students and alumni to tell us how they made the decision to self-sponsor in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives. Here is what they said:

Lisa Osterling, WG’14

Current Job: Principal & Investment Analyst, 7×7 Asset Management, LLC

“I considered the tuition an investment in myself. I still believe it is one of the better investments I’ve made so far in my investment career – and I will continue to see a return on this investment for years to come.”

“As ridiculous as this may sound, try not to obsess over the cost of the program. It will feel like a lot of money and you’ll wonder in the beginning if it is worth it, but you will have your education and network for life. Also, you will have the Wharton pedigree and the value of that cannot be overstated.”

Edward Sullivan, WG’16

Current Position: Founder of LeadWell and, CEO and Managing Partner, Velocity Group

“Deciding to pay for this program myself was not an easy decision. I might have been the last student to send in the initial deposit because it was daunting. But I did some basic math and figured out that the return on my investment over the rest of my career – in terms of financial gain, knowledge, and network – would more than pay for the degree.”

“Indeed, in my first year at Wharton, my consulting company was hired by a classmate. Between the knowledge and network, Wharton has already proven to be a great investment.”

Holly O’Dell, WG’18

Current Position: Vice President of Legal & Strategic Services, SAIF Corp.

Despite her certainty about Wharton being the right program for her, she still needed to decide about self sponsorship. “I had barely paid off my nursing and law school loans, and flight costs would not be insignificant,” she says. To help her with that decision, Holly asked current students at information receptions how they determined the ROI.

“Everybody said that you first need to decide why you are going back to school and what you want to get out of it. They shared their own reasons and explained how they found value.”

She decided to go for it, but admits she came to the initial class session – which was a joint weekend in Philadelphia – with some reservations. However, by the time she flew home, she knew she had made the right decision. “I thought back to all of the conversations I had with students over the weekend and knew I needed those intellectually inspiring discussions to sustain myself.”

Stafford Palmieri, WG’16

Current Position: National Business Line Operations Lead and Director of Special Projects, AECOM, DCS Americas

Position During EMBA Program: Commissioner of Administration, State of Louisiana

As a state employee during the program, Stafford’s only option was self-sponsorship. “I wasn’t going to spend taxpayers’ dollars on my post-graduate degree,” she said. “I wasn’t nervous about making the decision to self-sponsor; I saw it as an absolutely worthwhile investment in myself.”

Prior to Wharton, Stafford had no experience with finance — she majored in political science in college and hadn’t taken a math class other than statistics since high school. As a finance major at Wharton, most of her classes were quantitative. “Those courses were invaluable because I couldn’t teach myself those complicated concepts,” she said.

Peter MacEwan, WG’17

Current Position: Associate Director of the Making Waves College and Alumni Program

Peter saw self-sponsorship as an investment in himself to expand his professional opportunities in the future. As a student, the business fundamentals and perspectives he gained on class weekends added value during the workweek.

“I apply what I learned in my job all the time,” Peter said. “The management classes were ones where you reflect on the learning and apply it literally the next day. The marketing classes provided not only tools like analytics and statistics, but also insights into how people behave and how to predict what they will do – that has direct ties to the social sector. In finance, I gained a solid understanding of how funding channels work, which is very valuable.”

Posted: January 26, 2018

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