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Five Tips for Keeping Love Alive in Business School

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This is an oldie but a goodie from the Clear Admit archives—as applicable this Valentine’s Day as it was last year. Enjoy!

As any business school student will tell you, the pressures of a top-tier MBA program can be overwhelming. And as anyone who’s been in a romantic relationship can attest, care and attention are required to keep things on track. Trying to tackle both simultaneously definitely presents some challenges, but couples from a range of leading schools assure us it can indeed be done.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, they’ve generously shared their tips for keeping love alive in business school. Read on to learn what’s worked for them.

Be Honest with Yourself and Each Other About Expectations
Nick Arnold, who spent 10 years in the Marine Corps before heading to Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, stresses the importance of understanding—as a couple—what you want to get out of business school before you get there. He and his wife, Melissa, arrived at McDonough with a six-week-old daughter, Camille. “I faced a couple of learning curves,” the new dad jokes. “We were very fortunate that we were clear with each other about our goals and expectations, which I think was key to navigating any of the challenges we’ve faced,” he says.

“It has been an exercise for my wife and me in terms of having clear priorities around what’s important for us,” he says. “First and foremost is our daughter—head and shoulders above all else.” McDonough, in Washington, DC, was a top choice because it felt like a good place for a family, combining the advantages of urban life with lots of green space. Melissa was also able to get a job working at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. An obstetrician/gynecologist, she’s fortunate to have highly transferable skills, Nick notes. “There will always be babies being born all over the world.”

The decision to come to business school wasn’t made overnight, he adds. “It was something we thought about for a couple of years beforehand, so we had a good idea coming into it of what to expect.”

Communicate and Share Calendars
For Mark Schmid and Brittany Frye, who moved to Charlottesville for Mark to attend the University of Virginia’s Darden School, keeping communication channels open has been key. The two are engaged to be married on July 2, 2016, at a Charlottesville winery.

keeping love alive in business school
Darden first-year MBA student Mark Schmid and fiancée Brittany Frye

“Mark has always been really transparent, sharing what he is doing, what he’s working on, keeping me in the loop,” Brittany says. “It’s also been a big advantage for us that Brittany works here at the school,” Mark adds. As soon as Mark got accepted, Brittany began looking for a job in Charlottesville, ultimately securing a marketing position with Darden’s executive education program. “We carpool in together in the mornings, which gives us a chance to talk about whatever’s going on,” Mark says. They also frequently have lunch together or meet up for First Coffee, which takes place each morning at 9:30 in Darden’s PepsiCo Forum. “It’s just downstairs for Brittany,” Mark says. “We are very lucky that we can do a lot of our communication in person,” he adds. And if it’s a particularly crazy day and they aren’t able to see each other, they remain in touch via text.

“We also make appointments on our Outlook calendars for each other,” Brittany says, quick to confess that more often than not she is the one putting events on the calendar for him. “As long as I put it on his calendar that we have dinner plans with friends, then that time is reserved.”

Kellogg School of Management couple Jill and Zac Seidel also swear by shared calendars. Zac is a second-year MBA student at Kellogg and Jill is in her first year of the dual-degree MMM Program, from which graduates receive both a Kellogg MBA and an M.S. in design innovation from the Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “We share each other’s calendars on our phones and send each other calendar invites for quite literally everything,” Jill says. “If I have a group meeting one night, I send a calendar invite to Zac to watch our son,” she says.

keeping love alive in business school
Jill and Zac Seidel, Kellogg first- and second-year students, with son David

Even Valentine’s Day plans were set up by calendar invites, Jill says. “I am a lucky girl,” she teases. “I got a calendar invite two days ago for a dinner date on Sunday, and Zac arranged a babysitter for us.” Their 15-month-old son David will become a big brother in April, when Jill is due to give birth to their second child, which promises to ratchet up their reliance on shared calendars and babysitters even more.