Finding a School-Life Balance in an MBA Program


You've already determined that it’s time to pursue your MBA in order to advance in your career. But are you hesitant to commit to a program because you're still wondering how to meet your current obligations while adding classes, homework and extracurricular activities to your agenda? Earning an MBA takes a significant investment of your time and requires that you be willing to stretch yourself in new and sometimes difficult ways.

However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. From choosing an MBA program that best suits your needs to putting a solid support system in place, the most effective ways to maintain a healthy school/work/life balance entail a great deal of preparation.

Top Tips for Balancing School and Life

Once you’ve determined that an MBA is right for you, it’s important to figure out how to achieve academic success without neglecting your other priorities.

1) Create a solid support network. Talk to your immediate family and close friends about the demands that are soon to define your schedule. Be as transparent as possible about the time you'll need to set aside for your education and ask your loved ones in advance to be as understanding as possible.

2) Delegate. While you're having real conversation with family and friends about the life changes you're about to experience, recruit the most reliable among them to help you with any routine chores or tasks. Your goal should be to find dependable assistance so you can free up valuable time to invest both in studying and in enjoying life with family and friends.

3) Thoughtfully plan your days. Taking the time to thoughtfully plan out your schedule will keep you mindful of how much you can realistically take on while earning your MBA. Take account of the hours in your school days first. Allocate regular, recurring blocks of time for studying, performing research, writing, collaborating and networking. Be granular, too. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish in half an hour or even 15 minutes. Instead of checking social media while you have a little downtime between classes, dedicate it to reading course materials or making an important phone call. Doing so not only prioritizes school but also allows you to budget time for the other aspects of life that merit your attention.

4) Prioritize your health. Pursuing an MBA means being extremely busy and occasionally keeping long hours. Even if you've made the best preparations possible, this can still be stressful. That's why it's more important than ever to take care of your health. Assign an extra-high priority to eating well, exercising regularly and getting the proper amount of sleep each night.

5) Talk to your employer. As with your family and friends, you'll need to set expectations with your employer if you plan on working while pursuing your degree. Transparency is crucial, as is quantifying your new obligations. How many hours each week will you be dedicating to school? On what days of the week might you have to leave the office early to make it to class? Document your schedule so you can avoid any issues or misunderstandings that may occur once you begin splitting your time. Most employers will be supportive, provided you can help them understand how choosing to advance your education will be beneficial to the company.

Earning an MBA is quite an achievement, and one to be proud of. However, to help ensure you enjoy the process and don’t burn out, it’s essential that you also achieve a good work/school/life balance that leaves time for family and leisure. Also, be prepared for some trial and error. You'll have to be nimble and willing to pivot to find the systems and schedules that support your lifestyle and responsibilities. Equipped with that attitude, you’ll quickly find you can confidently navigate day-to-day life as an MBA student.

Choose a Program That’s the Best Fit

Every student is different – and we understand that at TCU Neeley. That’s why we offer a portfolio of graduate programs with a wide range of options, from a full-time MBA designed for career-changers to evening-only options such as TCU Neeley's Professional MBA program. The key is to choose a program whose schedule works best with your goals and lifestyle, and whose curriculum allows you to think both deeply and strategically about the subjects you'll be studying.

If you’re ready to make a career transition and want to expose yourself to new and different professional experiences, a full-time MBA program may be your best option. Just don't assume that you'll be spending 100 percent of your time in the classroom.Far from it. You’ll be engaged in consulting projects, internships, case competitions and other experiential learning opportunities that can transform your resume.

If your goals involve an advancement along your current career path, you can choose from several options that may be gentler on your finances and more accommodating of your familial obligations. Part-time and evening programs, many of which focus on a specific industry (such as Health Care) or skill set (such as Supply Chain Management), will help you take the next step in your career while maintaining a healthy work/school/life balance.

Still not sure which is the best fit for you? You can start with our comparison tool, or reach out to talk one-on-one with an admission counselor. Whichever option you choose at TCU Neeley, you’ll have access to our exceptional faculty and alumni who are willing to give back to current students.

To learn more about TCU and how its various — and innovative — graduate programs respond to the needs of both full-time students and working professionals, visit the Neeley School of Business website.

Access Archives >>