Tips for juggling school, work and family—and doing it successfully.
While many college students plan out their academic paths in advance and simply go straight from undergraduate to graduate school, a large percentage of MBA students get started in a career before applying to a graduate program. This choice offers many benefits, the most important of which is the ability to gain experience in the business world. But the choice is not without its challenges, including balancing work, school and life. With that in mind, this guide offers tips, advice and some first-hand experiences from graduate students who are working full-time while pursuing their MBA.
Learn to effectively manage time
It’s nearly impossible to juggle a full-time career and an MBA program if you do not know how to effectively manage your time. The first step is to sit down and make a list of all your commitments, work, family, volunteerism and any activities you are involved in. Then, be completely honest with yourself and decide which ones you are willing to cut down on. Remember that your coursework, studying and exams will now have to fit into your already busy life—so working out a schedule ahead of time will ensure that you can accomplish all you need to.
Here’s a tip from Marci Reynolds, 42, from Boston, (currently the Vice President of a large publicly traded company in New England), who completed her MBA while working full time:
“Since I am a morning person, I would often get up extra early (ex. 5am) to write papers or do homework. I studied during my lunch hour at work and I would go to the library on weekends to limit distractions and get as much work done as possible in short time increments. There were several occasions I used vacation days to study for major exams or finish large projects.”
Set realistic expectations
While pursuing your MBA will be a rewarding experience, it is best achieved by setting realistic expectations for yourself. Working full-time while taking classes is best achieved when you plan out how much time it is going to take you, the course load you’re going to take and when you are going to do your assignments. Allotting the right amount of time for tasks will ensure that you don’t get stressed by not having enough time to complete them.
Get everyone onboard
One of the most important things to consider is communicating with your friends, family and work about your goals and getting everyone on board so they can support you during the endeavor. Be sure to think about demands from work and let management and team members know that you are going to be spending a lot of your “off-time” like lunch hours and vacation days, studying and completing coursework.
Consider an online MBA program
Online MBA programs give you the flexibility to control your schedule and to take and complete courses at your own pace. And because all of your courses, exams, workshops, lectures, etc. are done via the internet, you have the ability to work anywhere you want and at any time that is convenient for you.
Online colleges and distance learning programs can be ideal for full-time professionals because they’re able to earn their degree without driving to a campus or attending classes and they can learn on their own schedule. A growing number of students are pursuing their MBA online because the benefits are invaluable:
- Get the same curriculum as a classroom program and the same quality when it comes to faculty
- You don’t have to relocate, so there’s less disruption to your life
- You can continue to work at your current job and earn a salary
- You can relocate for work or family and still pursue your MBA
- You can apply all that you’re learning to real-life scenarios in your job
- A vast number of resources are at your fingertips
- The virtual campus is high tech, interactive and engaging, and emulates the way real global business projects are undertaken
Pursuing your MBA while working full time is not without challenges, but if you follow these tips and advice, it is achievable and will be very rewarding. CSUMB offers a flexible MBA program specifically designed for working professionals. Explore your options today!