Work-Life Balance Tips for MBAs

work life balance

When it comes to applying and attending an MBA program, applicants are met with a variety of options. There are Full-Time MBAs, Executive MBAs, Evening and Weekend MBAs. For many MBAs, the choice of which program to attend can come down to finances, career opportunities, and work-life balance. In particular, work-life balance can be tricky for Executive MBAs and Weekend and Evening MBAs. How do you handle family, friends, work, and school? I spoke with Nicholas Bludau, an Evening MBA student at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business to get his insight.

Work-Life Balance Tips for MBAs

What has been the most difficult aspect of balancing your MBA program with work?

“This question in itself is essentially the most difficult part of the program: balancing school and work,” Bludau says. “Specifically, when I have hard deadlines to meet at work and in school, work unfortunately always trumps school. I can recover from a bad grade, recovering from missing a deadline is much more difficult.”

work life balanceHow do you balance your MBA program with family and life outside of work?

“Family, friends, and social life definitely get neglected somewhat when classes are in session. At least one weekend day and weekday are devoted towards group work or studying (not including the two nights in class),” Bludau explains. “It really is about getting your work done ahead of time, so you can enjoy the little free time you have with your loved ones on Saturday or Friday. I do not have a family or kids, but my classmates who do also mentioned they see less of their families too.”

What is the biggest tip you could give prospective MBA applicants who are looking to attend a part-time, evening, or weekend MBA?

“Most importantly, make sure your boss and job are onboard with you attending the MBA program (and understand that you will have commitments to keep on certain nights for class),” Bludau recommends. “Specifically, if your work has you traveling, that may want to be identified early on. In general, just have your personal life together too. If things are hectic in your personal life, it will be difficult to focus on an MBA.” 

Is there any other advice or feedback you would give MBA applicants who are trying to decide between a full-time MBA and a part-time MBA program?

For Bludau, there are a few key differences when attending a full-time MBA program.

  • Class four days a week compared to two nights a week.
  • Similar to undergraduate studies, you do not work and just study all day.
  • Full-time MBAs tend to be more socially active and younger.
  • Potentially there are better networking opportunities and forced internships.

“Overall [full-time MBA programs] seem like a college 2.0 or victory lap/s to me,” Bludau says.

Whereas for a part-time MBA program, Bludau has noticed that the students are those that did not want to go back to school four days at a time; they wanted to continue their earnings and promotions within their jobs. He has also noticed that there is “less networking potential with companies coming to campus due to busy work schedules BUT much greater networking with companies your classmates are employed with.”

Additional Work-life Balance Tips

If you’re still struggling to decide which MBA program is for you and how to balance the life you want with your studies, there are a few tips and tricks to help get you through the intense life of an MBA student.

  • Recognize Your Limitations: You can’t do everything all the time. Recognize where you can and will have to cut back in certain areas, and then move forward without castigating yourself.
  • Speak with Your Boss: Don’t enter a part-time MBA program without speaking to your boss. You will need your supervisor’s understanding and help to accomplish your MBA while working.
  • Set a Schedule: Adding an MBA program to your already busy schedule is a recipe for disaster unless you’re prepared to set a schedule for everything. Schedule weekly time for your family, for homework, for friends, and for work.
  • Get Sleep: You may think that you can function on two hours of sleep each night, but eventually you’ll crash and wind up in more trouble. Get the sleep you need so that you’re alert and active, or expect your studies to suffer along with your work and family.
  • Avoid Travel: Having a job with travel is going to make your MBA program incredibly difficult. Cut back on your work travel or change positions to one that requires less travel.

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About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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