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Fridays from the Frontline: Navigating Complex MBA Decision-Making Process

MBA DecisionWire Spotlight: Post-MBA at Bain, BCG or McKinsey

Pierre Girard, a 2016 graduate of the Weekend MBA program at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, shares his tips for the complex decision-making process that can accompany choosing to pursue an MBA. For Girard, a father to two small children who planned to continue working while getting his MBA, a part-time MBA program was the best way to meet all of his goals. And some of his tips—such as hiring a maid if your budget allows it—seem perhaps less geared toward traditional full-time MBA students than others.

But at its core, the bulk of Girard’s advice is applicable no matter what kind of MBA degree you’re planning to pursue. The support of your network, setting realistic expectations about your schedule, and knowing how to prioritize are just as critical for full-time, two-year MBA students as they are for full-time employees who are working toward their MBA in the evenings or on the weekends.

Our thanks to Girard for sharing his perspective with the Clear Admit audience.

The following post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, the Ross Student Voices Blog

My Tips for Navigating the Complex MBA Decision-Making Process

By Pierre Girard, Weekend MBA ‘16

Life is full of choices. For me, committing to pursue a Weekend MBA was one of those choices—and it was not an easy one. It wasn’t an easy choice because I knew that juggling work life, personal life and school would require a lot of dedication and hard work.

There’s no doubt I made the right choice and that you will too, but arriving at it took a lot of introspection, personal planning and communication with my loved ones. I learned a lot during that process, and I have some tips I want to share with you about how to navigate the process for yourself.

First, Build a Support Network
I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and two beautiful, clever children aged 6 and 3.

MBA decision-making process

Pierre Girard, Ross Weekend MBA ’16

When I wrote my GMAT in 2013, my daughter had been born for just 10 days. I used the time off I had taken for her birth to study while she was sleeping. And that meant, starting in 2013 while studying for the GMAT, choices had to be made—and I absolutely had to make them in order to manage what was coming.

Sitting down with my wife, we hammered out both our commitments to this adventure. This was perhaps the most critical of all the steps, and it became especially helpful during the last six months of the degree—when everyone was getting a little cranky from the lack of sleep and the flurry of activity.

Make sure your employer is supporting you through this process as well. If they don’t, maybe you need to rethink your plans/future with them. There will be long nights and early mornings and if you are a high-performer, your output at work will change. You will think differently about problems, but you will have less time to manage them—so you need to build a good support system both at home and at work prior to the start of the program.

Develop a Realistic Schedule
Realistically leave yourself 20 hours a week for school.

Yes, that is in addition to everything else going on. This gives you time to enjoy and make the most of your experience at Ross, and to get your best value for all of your effort. Any less and you’re cheating yourself out of something remarkable.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
I knew I had to prioritize. But there were some non-negotiable items. I wouldn’t sacrifice my volunteer time in different ministries, nor family time on Sundays. But, weekly get-togethers with friends? It was painful, but they had to go; we had to scale it back to once a month.

Unless your current schedule has lots of “fluff” in it, don’t kid yourself into thinking you can create hours—after all, you do still need to sleep, eat, work and enjoy life a little.

Which leads me to my last tip:

If You Can Afford It, Hire a Maid

We had to get rid of all that was not essential to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, which meant cutting grass, washing cars and gardening work had to go.

I know it sounds like a lot of decisions and purposeful action, and it is. But, putting in the work is necessary to success, and it will pay off in more ways than you think.

Just like anything else in life, strong planning goes a long way. It is a lot of effort, with lots of rewards. But you’ll never regret it!

Posted in: Fridays from the Frontline, MBA News, News, Part-Time/EMBA News, Weekly Columns

Schools: Michigan / Ross

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