With graduation around the corner, I hope I can offer a few thoughts that admits and applicants may find useful as you consider your time at Chicago Booth. Twenty-two months in business school is a truly short time, but it is a short time that can greatly enhance your life. As I reflect on my time on the Midway, here are a few of my takeaways.
Build Value and Build it Early: This is obvious but it bears stating: you aren’t going to learn everything there is to know (even about one subject) in the classroom. But you can learn a lot by supplementing class selection with many of the other opportunities at Booth: leadership challenges, lunch and learns, taking on a mentor/mentoree role, volunteering, doing something you have never done before. You can learn a lot about yourself, and also add a great deal of value to the twenty-two months you will spend here.
Start SOMETHING! Jen and I started a family, and that has been an incredible, joy-creating, tiring, productivity-sapping experience – but more on that in a few lines. My main point is start something! The most energetic, excited, people I have encountered at Booth are working on an idea. And they are not all doing actual start-ups – some of them are simply exploring assignments for entrepreneurial classes. You will need to balance this with class, pursuing full-time opportunities, and having all the experiences that can be had, but build into your schedule time to start something. By starting something you will do one thing: learn. Success or failure, you will learn.
Find What Flexibility Means to You. There is not necessarily a “right” time to start or expand your family – but, if you are considering it, I think business school was a good one for us. The flexibility at Booth has made it that much easier. A child is a lot of work; and you, like me, will give parenting your all. Whether or not you are the primary caregiver, it will test your time management skills, among many other. That means there will be lots of reading, and feedings, and appointments, and playing, and walks, and worrying, and laughing… You’re going to love it.
Take an Evening Class. And not just because it is an easy walk from anywhere in the Loop. The flexible curriculum creates an extended class of amazing people who only take classes at night and on the weekends – you should meet them and get to know them.
Speaking of the Part-Time Program… For some applicants, working while going to school is a possibility to consider. Whether or not you plan to switch careers, the part-time program can be a great way to leverage employment while taking classes. There are a small number of people who start in the Evening Program, leave their job after several courses, get an internship, and finish on more of a “full-time” schedule. This process takes longer, likely two quarters longer, but can be a great professional and educational choice for those who can make it work (especially if you live in Chicago).
After twenty-one months here at Chicago Booth, the one thing I realize is that there is no way to do it all. The FOMO is real, and you will not do many things you may think you want to do. But there is also JOMO and you have the opportunity to make what you want out of this time. Good luck!