If you’re considering enrolling in an MBA program, there’s a good chance you’re an ambitious, hard-working person with a spotless academic and professional record. But there’s a reason why many working mothers hesitate to commit to an MBA. These graduate programs are very demanding, and when you’ve got kids to think of, the prospect of cramming MBA studies into your already hectic schedule can seem overwhelming.
But juggling an MBA with a job and the demands of family life, while difficult, is also possible. You’ll need great time-management skills, dedication, determination, a support system, and a commitment to self-care in order to successfully pull it off.
Choose a Program That Meets Your Needs
Perhaps the most important aspect of juggling work, school, and family is to choose a program that will work with your schedule and needs right out of the gate. If you’re going to continue working full time, you’ll need to choose a program that fits in with your work schedule, but you’ll also need to consider your family’s schedule, too. That’s why many working moms choose a certified online MBA program. Online programs give you much-needed flexibility to take your classes, review your materials, and complete assignments when your schedule allows. That means you can work early in the morning, before the kids are up, or late at night, after they’re asleep; you can even work during lunch breaks at your job.
If you have your heart set on a traditional program, make sure it’s one that provides support for working mothers. Think seriously and realistically about your needs. Do you need access to a lactation room or child care on campus? Will you need to move closer to school in order to make it work? Choose a school and program that is willing to work with you to offer the academic support you need.
Have a Support System
Every mother needs a support system, but for a working mother who is also a student, support can mean the difference between success and failure. Build a support system at home, at work, and at school. Sit down with your spouse or partner, parents, roommates, or others you live with to discuss your needs as you enter this new phase of your life. Consider what practical help you may need. Maybe it’s getting the kids fed and onto the school bus in the morning, or having someone to pick them up in the afternoon; maybe you’ll need extra help with cooking, cleaning, and other chores.
At work, get your boss and co-workers on board with your plans. You might need to delegate some of your responsibilities while you’re going to school, or refrain from picking up extra projects or working late. Talk to your supervisor about your plans to return to school and how they will affect your ability to do your job. Underscore your reasons for pursuing the advanced degree and how earning an MBA will benefit the company. Don’t forget to ask if you qualify for tuition assistance!
Whether you choose an online or traditional program, you’ll need to speak to your professors and classmates about your family and professional responsibilities, just to make them aware of what you’re facing. Don’t use work and kids as an excuse to slack off academically, but do ask professors to work with you if you have to hand in a late assignment or miss a class due to other commitments.
Practice Good Time Management
Time-management skills are important for all grad students, but they’re even more essential when you’re juggling a full-time job and family obligations. Many working moms in grad school find it helpful to schedule time for work, school, and family each week, blocking out time to do chores, run errands, hang out with the kids, and complete class work. If you struggle with time management, try strategies like the Pomodoro Technique to stay on task, fight distractions, and mitigate fatigue.
Juggling the responsibilities of work, family, and school isn’t easy, but many mothers do it every day — and why shouldn’t you be one of them? When things get tough in your MBA program, remind yourself that it’s temporary, and that it’ll all be worth it someday, when you’re bringing home that fat MBA salary.
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