Juggling your family and professional lives can be a challenge. Having children will naturally cause you to review your priorities, and activities such as furthering your education can seem an unlikely proposition.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
If you’re keen to keep your business career on an upward trajectory, an MBA could be just the thing you need. By expanding your business knowledge and building relationships with fellow professionals, you will be well-placed to take the next step.
How does all this fit in around your other commitments? And what do you stand to gain from taking on this challenge? Here are a few factors that will help you make an informed decision.
Study part time around your job
Let’s face it, few of us can afford to put our career on hold for 2-3 years in order to gain extra qualifications. It’s simply not practical, especially with a family to support.
With an MBA, you won’t have to. The course is designed for business professionals, and as such most programmes will cater for those who wish to study alongside their regular work commitments.
Research has shown that MBA graduates regularly see their career progress almost immediately after completing the course, while some even earn promotions while they are still studying.
Studying part time makes the workload manageable, with seminars split into bitesize blocks throughout the academic year. You won’t need to take time off work, while you will retain a degree of control over your work/life balance.
Explore funding options
It’s worth researching the potential cost of an MBA. It’s easy to dismiss further education as unaffordable once you start a family, but many business schools offer scholarships and incentives that can make things much more affordable.
Scholarships will not only deal with a sizeable portion of your fees, they also come with an added prestige that will look wonderful on your CV. They are something you have to work hard to earn, and this is something that will be appreciated by both employers and peers.
Some universities provide other ways to trim your fees still further, with referral schemes and discounts for former undergraduates just some of the incentives available.
You might also find that your employer is willing to help you achieve your goals. The most frequent arrangement is for them to fund you, either fully or in part, in exchange for you committing yourself to the business for a set amount of time after graduating.
It’s important that you can still give your family the time they need, without letting your studies take over. By building a network of peers with whom you can talk about the course and help each other out, it will make it easier for you to avoid bringing your work home with you.
Your fellow professionals enrolled in the MBA will have similar goals to you. Some may even be in a similar situation of taking on the challenge of an MBA alongside looking after their family.
As well as providing each other with support throughout your studies, many MBA alumni maintain these relationships far beyond the end of the course. From business relationships to friendships, many find that they take more than a qualification away from the MBA experience.
Is an MBA right for you?
As you can see, pursuing an MBA is something everyone can do. You’ve seen how factors such as time and funding can be balanced so that you can continue to be there for your family and fulfil your professional requirements.
An MBA is undoubtedly a challenge, so it’s down to you to decide if you’re ready for it. The rewards are certainly worth it.
Mother-of-two Dr Sara Ward is Director of MBA and Executive Programmes at Manchester Met Business School.
This year, they have introduced a Women in Business Scholarship with the aim of increasing female participation in the MBA programme.