About this time last year I was eagerly awaiting the start of my Weekend Executive MBA journey. A significant part of my excitement and anticipation involved not knowing what to expect and whether the hard work involved in applying, matriculating and completing the program was worth the expense and commitment.

In search of answers, I contacted a friend and Weekend Executive alumnus who offered a straightforward response to my query. He explained, “… the experience will change your life.” At the time, I thought it was an overly simplistic comment … hyperbole that alumni routinely offer. However, now that I’ve passed the half-way point in the program, I realize that my friend’s comment was wonderfully profound.

Life-Changing Experience

The experience has changed my life in both long-term professional ways and in day-to-day situations in which I view the world through an entirely different lens. The career advantages associated with a Duke MBA experience are now obvious. Fuqua’s Career Management team is superbly equipped to assist students throughout the program with a host of professional development tools. The career management resources have been especially helpful for me as I find myself switching jobs midway through the program. I also now have access to an alumni community that I can query for professional insight—an often overlooked benefit with significant life-changing possibilities. At the same time, the program’s faculty provide the knowledge and confidence needed to meaningfully contribute to any boardroom conversation.

Aside from the professional benefits, it is the day-to-day intangible benefits that surprise, entertain and offer the most. For instance, when I confront circumstances in my personal life I often analyze the situation using a mental decision tree which I learned about in the program—this a model and framework that did not exist for me before. Conditional and joint probabilities have a new place in my vocabulary, I read about math for enjoyment (The Drunkard’s Walk is excellent), my 7-year old daughter now understands the basics of game theory and I’ve managed to convince my father-in-law about the economic benefits of free trade. These experiences are tangential, difficult to articulate in a campus visit, website or brochure, yet offer tremendous value that one might not immediately associate with a Duke MBA.

My friend was correct—the Fuqua experience is changing my life in welcomed and unanticipated ways. It is difficult to articulate intangible benefits through school rankings or other quantitative ways. Yet for me, these influences and benefits have the greatest impact because they surface in surprising and unforeseen areas of my life.