A question I often get is, why does Fuqua have Wednesdays off from class? Why not Friday like many other B-schools? Once you understand how valuable the midweek break is to your schedule it makes perfect sense.

The value to having Wednesday as a ‘free day’ is that it helps pace the academics during the week as you attempt to balance all the extracurricular activities that are thrust upon you as a component of the MBA experience. I’ll try my best to provide that perspective based on my experience so far as a first-year student.

As a prospective MBA student, you know the joy that surrounds any 3-day holiday weekend. Presently, you may think of all that can be accomplished with an extra day during the weekend. Maybe you’ll do a little traveling, enjoy some family time, try relaxing, or socializing. You contemplate all relative merits of a trip to the beach or hiking at a scenic destination nearby. It’s OK to appreciate those 3-day weekends now, because after you arrive they will strike fear into your hearts as MBAs. I’ll explain how they disrupt your Fuqua class schedule in just a second.

The Weekly Schedule

The pace of life at Fuqua is based around a 2-day block of classes, twice a week (Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday). So our weekly academic schedule consists of 2, 2-day blocks, or ‘mini-weeks’ with Wednesday as a catch up day in between.

Every 2-day block of classes generally necessitates an entire free day to help students finish pre-work, revisit difficult concepts from a previous day, recruiting activity, or to fulfill those productive extra-curricular endeavors. You’ll quickly find yourself protecting your Wednesdays because they give you that much needed break in between the 2 academic mini-weeks, allowing you to meet the demands of your rigorous academic and professional schedule.

A lunch with Duke University President Richard Brodhead. Time for extracurricular activities like this are a benefit of the Fuqua class schedule

…or engage in extracurricular activities on campus like attending this Graduate & Professional Student Council lunch with Duke University President Richard Brodhead

When the Schedule is Disrupted

Now back to the dread and fear brought about by a 3-day weekend. When this occurs, as it did the week of Labor Day during the first week of Fall Term 1, classes are compressed into the remaining four weekdays. Having class Tuesday through Friday leaves you without a significant amount of free time to catch up before you are again thrust into the classroom for another round in front of the proverbial fire-hose of knowledge.

As soon as you experience how upsetting this is to the smooth flow of the weekly academic schedule, you suddenly go through your calendar praying that no more Wednesdays will be sacrificed in a given term.

After all is said and done, I’m eternally grateful to the amazing people who realized that dividing up the week by giving us Wednesdays off really makes the learning process better. Other MBA programs seemed to relish having their Fridays off. But knowing what I do now about the competing pressures of an MBA program (academic, social, and professional), my Wednesdays and the unique schedule at Fuqua have become major components of a healthy and balanced MBA candidate lifestyle.