Maybe Part-Time?

Guess who’s back? I apologize for my absence as I was tending to being a full-time student and all the horrors therein. I however, am back as a freshly-minted MBA ready to co-traverse another admissions cycle.

It’s mid September—bringing with it the intense, and often, self-imposed pressure of the process. Just to remind you, I’m here to medicate that pressure with perspective and remind you that you are already victorious!

Still very much in love with the armament of information, today let’s take a step back and examine, the part-time MBA. Often the most overlooked element in a b-school process, lets try to examine the difference.

Why part time? Well for one, the MBA price tag is high. Part-time programs allow you to earn an income while earning your degree. Two, for those interested in returning to/maintaining their current employer, it signals a commitment to the organization by simultaneously pursuing the degree while working for said employer. This will prove particularly useful in MBA-sponsorship conversations. Thirdly, depending on the individual and job, it could be academically more manageable, especially to those without a lot of quantitative experience. You don’t have to manage a five to six class course load and only have to devote your attention to two classes (number subject to change based on school).

Now instead of listing why you shouldn’t do part time (because my role is not to advocate, but to inspire careful choices), let’s think about some factors that should inform our consideration (because we all should consider it!)

People often dismiss part-time programs because they’re isolated from the larger b-school community. A large benefit from the investment is a network. How am I going to get a network if I take classes at night separate from the full-time MBAs?

And that’s a very important point of concern. You need to investigate how b-schools foster camaraderie among the part-time community. It’s not a one size fits all approach. Do they have social/career/affinity orgs specifically for that population? Do they have programming specific for that audience? Does the program at any point allow interaction with the larger MBA community? Does the program allow you to take classes with the full timers? How easy is it for you to participate in the same co-curricular activities?

Don’t forget about the jobs now. Ask how the program facilitates engagement with companies recruiting on campus? On-campus presentations and networking events happen in the day (when you’re at work) and at night (when you’re in class). Are you perpetually isolated from networking with companies? Also, do you have access to GTS (online-career platform)? External to the school, what’s the willingness of employers to accommodate your schedule for potential coffee chats/events? Also what’s the stigma/perspective of part-time students among employers? Often employers consider that population less competitive and less diverse especially, if the program is in a remote location. How does that b-school/career services mitigate those concerns?

Also, what kinds of academic support are available to part-time students? The rigor can be daunting for anyone.  Who can you lean on? Do you have feasible access to tutors (Feasible meaning it’s one thing to have access, but the schedule misalignment can prove to be a nuisance for actually meeting)? What’s the professors willingness to meet with part-time students? Do their office hours accommodate part-time students schedule?

Also what types of scholarships, if any exist in part-time programs. The scholarships question forces you to weigh how significant financial support is in your b-school selection?

Now, as always, I say all of this not to discourage you from part-time programs. I am all about informing your motivations and strengthening your decision-making apparatus. Part -time programs just need some careful diligence before committing.

And if you about that life, go straight to the source! There are several stakeholders in a university (admissions officers, students, faculty, students, employers, alum, etc). More stakeholders means less synergy among their priorities. An admissions officers job is to sell the brand and cultivate the best class, so they may not be the most forthcoming. More importantly, they are not the consumer! Ask current part-time MBAs and recent alum about the programmatic and academic elements. Ask employers (recruiters you know personally) about their perception of part-time MBAs. Ask full-time students about their engagement with part-time MBAs and how connected they feel with that community. And if you can find some colored folk to talk to……Anyways. lol.  Like anything, there will be a give and take with any program you enroll in (regardless of part time/full time). Just don’t be surprised about any of the concessions you have to make.

 

 

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