Business School – A Family Affair: 3 Burning Pre-MBA Questions

As I’ve been involved with the admissions process leading up to first round decisions coming out later this month, I’ve thought back a lot on some of the major questions I had before going back to business school.  I’ve mentioned before that giving up a stable income and good career track can seem like a huge risk, and there are a lot of unknowns.  Now with more than a year under my belt, I wanted to retrospectively answer the three questions I (and I think a lot of other people as well) had about going back to business school:

Am I going to have any time to see my family (or time for myself for that matter)?  On several occasions I heard partners of business school students refer to themselves as “B-school widows”.  With courses, club meetings, interesting speakers, recruiting, and a whole host of other activities with which to fill your day, life at Booth is never dull.  With that being said, I have been very pleasantly surprised by how manageable it has been to be able to be home almost every night for a little family time before the kids are in bed.  While I have had to sacrifice attending some interesting events on campus, I have been fortunate to have classmates who are willing to help accommodate my family life and have allowed me to schedule group meetings outside of my dedicated family time.  In general I would say I’m on campus from 8-5 most days, with homework picking up for a few hours again after the kids are in bed.  Lots of other students in similar situations work out their own unique schedules, but at this point my children still recognize me, so I’ll count that as a success.

How hard is business school, really?  Hard.  I have been incredibly impressed by how intelligent and demanding the professors are, and how driven all of my classmates are.  Everyone expects you to know your stuff and put in your work, which to me is hugely refreshing. I haven’t had to worry about group members pulling their weight on projects like in undergrad.  To be honest, I originally pictured business school as a bunch of people lounging around, “networking” and talking about optimal debt structures.  That is definitely not the case here.  Booth is well deserving of its reputation for analytical rigor, but I feel like the difficulty of the coursework has prepared me well to be successful in my future.

Will I be able to get my perfect job?  When I thought about selecting my post-MBA career, I imagined going to some big Booth list and selecting from any of the dozens of jobs that matched all of my criteria.  Although career services does an amazing job of providing resources during the recruiting process, and there are hundreds of fantastic companies that do some sort of recruiting here, I quickly realized that the perfect job simply doesn’t exist.  Booth puts a lot of work into helping you explore career paths and assisting you with career research, but in the end I learned that I needed to be reasonable in my expectations.  Once I finally came to grips with this fact I was able to settle in and have found a great post-MBA job with a company I didn’t plan on recruiting with and in a city I never imagined living in.  However, I think in the big picture this will be the perfect place for me to start off my career, even though it didn’t check every single box for my preconceived “perfect job.”

I’m more than a year in now and can honestly say that none of these questions turned out to be the major roadblocks I expected them to be.  Once you get here, meet your awesome classmates, and settle into B-school life, everything really falls into place.  What are some of the big questions that you guys are wrestling with about coming to Booth or back to school in general?

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