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Fridays from the Frontline: Pursuing an MBA at MIT Sloan as a Parent

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There has been much digital ink spilled on these Clear Admit pages about how prospective b-schoolers can navigate the major life transitions that MBA degrees entail.  Usually these articles take the form of balancing school with a demanding job or uprooting across the country (or continents). However, one issue that has not been discussed as widely in business school circles is pursuing an MBA as a parent.

Mid-career professionals have historically used the MBA as a way to climb the corporate ladder or pivot to new lines of work. As the profile of an MBA student skews older, the reality of life outside the classroom and/or boardroom naturally gets more complicated as personal and professional responsibilities compete.

Current MIT Sloan student Hadar Ben Ari (MBA ’20) took to the Sloan blog to discuss the art of earning an MBA as a parent.

The following piece has been republished in its entirety from its original source, the MIT Sloan blog.

Pursuing an MBA at MIT Sloan as a parent

Hadar Ben Ari, MIT Sloan MBA ’20

by Hadar Ben Ari MBA ‘20

To all the parents and parents-to-be out there who are considering an MBA program, and have concerns over this pursuit, I assure you that it is doable! I started my MBA with a five-month-old and can say that it is definitely hard, but totally possible and worth it. I wanted to share my experience from the past few months to help others as they start considering and planning this amazing journey with their families. My three main take-a-ways are as follow:

  1. Infrastructure – The MBA experience is an intense one. As Sloanies like to say: “it is like trying to drink from a fire-hose.” There is so much going on at once and you want to be a part of it all. There are classes, clubs, labs, conferences, competitions, parties, trips and so much more. As expected, it requires a lot of time and effort. In order to make the most out of it all, one needs to plan and create a supportive infrastructure for his family. This can be in the form of a supportive SO (significant other), proximity to family members who can help, enrollment to a day care, getting help from nannies and many other alternatives. I highly recommend taking the time to think about it in advance and creating that supportive environment before you start.
  2. Priorities – FOMO (‘fear-of-missing-out’). You will hear that a lot during the MBA. If I had to lump my activities during the MBA, I would point to the following: (a) course work; (b) extra curriculum; (c) social; (d) recruiting; and of course (e) family. You probably won’t have time for everything. Once you start the program it is very hard to stop, take a step back, and think about how you want to invest your time between these activities. Therefore, I highly recommend taking the time in advance to plan ahead. Think about how you want to see your semester? What do you want to achieve in the end? Try to spend your time according to your set of priorities and to push-back on the FOMO you’ll feel.
  3. Flexibility – Be prepared for the unexpected. There would be moments where things won’t go as planned. Your child will be sick. The day care closed. The nanny did not show up. Try to keep an open mind and be flexible. Functioning in these unexpected moments is a great practice for the future.

The art of balancing the personal life and the career (or school at this point) will be an ongoing part of our life. For me personally, it makes life much more meaningful and helps me focus on the important things. As you make your decision whether to go for it and pursue an MBA program with your family, I hope my experience would help shed some light on how to better prepare for this once in a lifetime experience!

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.