Jonathon Lee




United States





By Jonathon Lee

“Was it worth it getting an MBA during the pandemic?”

The #1 question I’ve gotten from prospective SBS students in my short time at Oxford has been, without a doubt:

“Was it worth it getting an MBA during the pandemic?”

The answer is, resoundingly, yes. Don’t get me wrong, going to school during a pandemic has an evolving set of challenges – a hybrid educational model, reduction in social events, and an adjustment to the traditionally robust college system (and culture of attending classmates’ colleges) seen by previous cohorts. However, there are many blessings embedded in these challenges.

With the implementation of social distancing and restrictions on group meet ups, there has been an opportunity to forge deeper relationships with individual classmates. You learn a lot more about someone when meeting 1-on-1 versus in a large group, and the environment of COVID has basically made 1-on-1 meetups one of the few forms of social interaction available. From this viewpoint, COVID has almost been a blessing. Meeting classmates 1-on-1 over a cup of coffee has been an experience that I will not soon forget. For context, I grew up in a very rural part of the United States – undergrad was the first time I’ve experienced sushi, Starbucks, and hummus, to name a few things. Being immersed in a place like Oxford (and its overwhelming diversity of backgrounds, philosophies, and stories) has unleashed the pent-up curiosity about different corners of the world that had been building since I was young. A few examples of the people I’ve met through depth of conversation resulting from 1-on-1 meetups include:

  • A Bulgarian entrepreneur who drives racecars in his spare time,
  • A Rwandan engineer who’s been educated in Africa, the UK, and the US,
  • TWO beekeepers, one from the US and one from the UK,
  • An Australian middle school geography teacher who continues to support her students from half a world away,
  • A Mexican nuclear engineer who moonlighted as a bartender to feed a passion for food and wine,
  • A Chilean psychologist with roots in American college and professional sports,
  • Three mothers who are juggling raising young children with the demands of a one-year MBA,
  • TWO classmates, one from Asia and one from Africa, who left the Red Cross in search of even bigger impact than their already incredible accomplishments,
  • A Canadian who’s spent the last decade in Kenya empowering the less fortunate,
  • A lung care foundation CEO from India,
  • A classmate who’s visited 60 countries,
  • A “third culture kid” from both China and Germany that wants to change the way people value their individual health,
  • A professional tennis player,
  • An amateur ukulele player, and
  • THREE DJ’s, including one self-taught during the lockdown

And many, many more. So was it worth it? Absolutely. Oxford is an enriching place, second-to-none, and an opportunity for growth no matter the circumstances.

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