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How to Earn an MBA While Being a Parent

June 21, 2018 //

For years, an MBA is how professionals have gotten from A to B in their careers. The MBA bump, as it is commonly called, usually manifests as a salary increase or a promotion. These days, it’s not uncommon for the MBA bump to coincide with the baby bump.

That’s right, professionals are simultaneously starting families and pursuing MBAs. Nationally, MBA students average 6.4 years of work experience, meaning most MBA candidates are in their late 20s or early 30s. That’s also around same age when most Americans are having their first child, according to a recent study.

So how can you achieve work-life balance and learn to balance budget sheets? Here are some tips from current and former Fox School MBA students who have successfully juggled parenting and pursuing MBAs.

Schedule Everything

Communications executive Kristi DeSimone already was accustomed to working virtually. That’s why she found the Fox School’s Online MBA program a proper fit.

“I never knew when my work day would end, or that I could commit to being in a physical classroom,” said DeSimone, who resides in Vineland, N.J. “The program gives me freedom to take courses in my house or while I’m traveling, and I can do coursework or talk to classmates at my convenience.”

DeSimone “scheduled everything,” she said. She delivered her daughter only a few days after delivering a presentation in a finance course. DeSimone graduated in December 2017, just before her maternity leave expired.

Find What Works for You

When Lamees Alhaj signs into her online classroom Friday at 4 a.m., most of her U.S.-based classmates are logging in Thursday at 7 p.m. “The Online MBA is ideal because our workweek here in Dubai runs Sunday through Thursday,” said Alhaj.

The program’s flexibility, Alhaj said, is paramount. She got engaged, planned a wedding, and welcomed a baby—all while managing her studies. “I can take one class per semester or three,” said Alhaj, a service excellence officer at American Hospital Dubai.

Alhaj has learned to work around her daughter’s schedule, too. Routinely, she watches academic lecture videos or completes reading assignments while holding or soothing her baby at all hours of the day.

Dan Berger with his son, Jace; Rory McHale with his daughter, Sloane; and Kristi DeSimone with her daughter (left to right).

Rely on Your Support System

In a four-week span last summer, Rory McCale relocated to the Philadelphia region, started a new job in surety insurance, bought and sold a home, enrolled in the Fox School’s Part-Time MBA program, and welcomed a baby daughter.

“Needless to say, it was hectic,” McCale said.

With his schedule constantly changing, he relied on late hours and early mornings to stay ahead.

“The professors were responsive,” McCale said. “If you had a question at midnight, you’ll get the answer you need by the time you wake up. Without support from my wife and from within the program, I couldn’t have held it together. The flexibility and professionalism of (the professors and staff) from the program have been a huge help.”

Incorporate Your Children into Your Schoolwork

Early in his career, Dan Berger embraced that there is no perfect time to pursue an MBA. So, he took a page from his father’s playbook. In his youth, Berger remembers his father reading case studies to him while attaining his MBA.

“That was 20 years ago, but the lesson there can be applied today in my MBA program,” said Berger, a Part-Time MBA student who works in the health industries advisory practice of a Big 4 accounting firm. “If you’ve asked yourself, ‘How can I study and engage with my family at the same time?’ it’s simple. Throughout this process, I’ve realized that I can read to my son, shift my priorities, and incorporate him into my coursework.

He added: “I am proof that you can start a family and get an MBA.”

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