“Mama, someday I’ll be in the hundredth grade, just like you!”
When my 5-year-old son heard that I was starting school, I’m sure he was picturing recess, snacks, and nap time. I was picturing exams, “sip circles,” and many evenings away from home.
My Motivation for an MBA
I knew that being a parent while completing an MBA would be tough, and I knew that my kids would probably not understand why I was gone so much of the time. Ultimately though, I want my kids to see both the work and reward that comes from pursuing my dreams.
I’ve always been driven by the desire to have a positive impact on the world. In recent years however, I felt that my career in public policy was not providing the opportunities for impact that I had hoped for. It seemed to me that a career in business could open up more opportunities for having a broader impact, and earning an MBA seemed like the best way to make that career transition.
But this was not an easy decision. I have no background in business, and more importantly my kids are still quite young. I wasn’t sure how business school would affect them or whether it would be sustainable for my family.
Understanding the Trade-Offs
To help me understand what I was signing up for, I sought out current MBA students and recent alumni with children to hear how they handled it. During my campus visit to Fuqua, I asked about being a parent here, and the Association of Women in Business (AWIB) connected me with a current student who was also a mom. I also reached out to an alumnus from my undergraduate school who is currently a parent at Fuqua.
What I found was that although everyone in business school has to make trade-offs, for parents those trade-offs can be especially complex. How do we pay for day care with student loans? Can I be part of the social scene if I have to get up at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning with the kids? How do I find time to go to recruiting events, keep my grades up, build friendships, and still make time for my family? Will my spouse realistically be able to shoulder more of the child care duties?
From talking with other parents here at Fuqua, I know that these are not easy questions. Every family has to find its own answers, and my family is still working on finding ours.
Despite the challenges that come with being a parent and a student, I know that getting an MBA was the right decision for me. I love being at Fuqua and I’m very excited to be launching a new career. Although handling school and family obligations is difficult (and would be impossible without the unwavering support of my husband!), I hope that my time at Fuqua has a positive impact on my children. I want them to see first-hand the importance of education and to understand that they have the ability to shape their own lives and careers.
Help With Your Own Research
If you are a prospective student parent, please feel free to reach out to AWIB, and they can connect you with some of the student parents on campus. The Fuqua Partners group is another good resource.