Making decisions is hard. Every single thing we choose eliminates all other possibilities. This is life.

When deciding which business school was the right place for me, I evaluated several factors. Among them was diversity—was I going to be able to learn from classmates from all around the world and many different backgrounds? A focus on health care—whichever school I chose had to be a leader in health care, and its MBA coursework would have to give me a variety of opportunities to learn about the industry.

But most importantly, I wanted a collaborative environment. I don’t think I fully understood the value of a collaborative environment and the impact it has had on my MBA life until I faced one of the hardest things a person can—the death of a loved one.

Terrible News During a Tough Time

They say Fall Term 2 of a Daytime MBA student’s first year is one of the toughest, with a heavy academic load combined with intense recruitment activities. Days tend to be long, and patience is not always student’s best strength. I remember we all went into the second week of the term knowing it would be particular challenge. We could see on Monday morning that each day that followed was going to include 14 or more hours of intense work, with little time to rest, eat and recharge energies.

On Tuesday night, I was in the middle of a company presentation when I got a call from my husband. He said that his sister had passed away. This was not unexpected, as she had been fighting cancer for over a year, but at that moment my world seemed to collapse. I went home to my Station 9 apartment, bought a plane ticket for early the next morning, had dinner, packed, and tried to sleep for a few hours.

How Classmates and Faculty Stepped Up to Help

You might be wondering why I’m telling you this story, and what does it have to do with Fuqua and an MBA. As I was saying, I had not truly realized the importance of a collaborative environment until that evening. My Consequential Leadership (C-LEAD) team responded incredibly to what I was going through. One of them offered to drive me to the airport at 4:00 a.m. and was there for me when I most needed it. It seems crazy that a few months ago we had not even met, and on a day like this they stepped up to help. Coursework was taken care of. Notes from class were also take care of. Between my amazing section of 70-plus classmates, who emailed me during the week to give me strength and offer their help, and my C-LEAD teammates, I knew that I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to miss while home.

But a collaborative environment is not only about the students, it is also about the professors. I have to say that the response of each and every one of my professors was more than I expected. Their understanding was much appreciated. Most even went the extra mile, saying that they would personally help me get back on track when I returned. They offered their time and their support.

The Fuqua community is unique because of the careful selection that the Admissions office does every year when admitting students. We are a supportive community that will not only enrich you from an academic and professional standpoint, we will also enrich you from a human perspective. We are there to cover each other’s backs and help when needed. I definitely felt it while going through this rough experience.

When deciding which school you would like to go to, focus on the factors that are really important to you. The ones I mentioned at the beginning of this post were some of the ones that made me choose Fuqua, and I must say I’m happy that I did!