With people choosing to get an MBA education at different stages of their career, a lot of them come with additional responsibilities. One of those responsibilities could potentially be a family.
Over 40% of MBA applicants at top schools today have families. While some choose to move to their business schools with their partners and kids, others are unable to. The reasons can be varied. The huge shift in location and lifestyle is one.
Although doing an MBA with a family has its own set of struggles, on top of opting for an international MBA, it is well worth it. With a lot of top-tier MBA programs actively looking out for students’ spouses and kids now, it is easier for MBA applicants to do an MBA with a family.
One of our amazing applicants, Abhishek Bali, got accepted to Cornell and moved to New York with his family. In an interview, recently, he mentioned how he managed his finances during his MBA with the responsibility of a family.
“Now it seems funny to talk about it, but it wasn’t very funny back then. My parents were retired and were in their 70s. And all that. After I got admitted and got through the whole process of why MBA, why now and all that stuff. I had to go back to my parents and go through the same round of why MBA, why now, which was interesting. My wife was working with General Electric back then and we didn't have too many savings. But you know, one thing I was very clear about was that I had toiled so much and taken such big risks in terms of putting my position in design on to the side and working for my admits day and night. I was very confident that things will pan out somehow,” Abhishek recalled.
This made us want to discuss the dilemma a lot of MBA applicants must face while deciding to go for an expensive international MBA with a partner and kids.
If you are contemplating whether the risk of an MBA with a family is worth taking, this is the article for you.
Should You Do an MBA With A Spouse And Kids?
With the responsibility of a family on your shoulders or the presence of a partner, an MBA is no longer YOUR sole decision. While your kids will be able to bounce back or adjust to a new lifestyle fairly quickly, your MBA would heavily disrupt your partner’s life.
From their social environment to their careers, everything will take a huge hit as you move to a different city to pursue your MBA dream.
For the next couple of years, till you complete your MBA, your partner will be taking up the responsibility to be the main breadwinner for your family.
Even though you take up various part-time jobs, the work-hours restrictions imposed on students might not allow you to maintain the steady income flow you had earlier.
In addition to their social circle, and family, your partner might also have to leave a flourishing career opportunity. Your partner is always the biggest champion of your growth and is most likely to support your MBA decision wholeheartedly. The best plan of action that one can take in such a case is to shortlist business schools with your partner in mind. A lot of business schools have actively started creating resources to help out MBA students with families. These resources range from clubs for students’ partners to kindergartens for their kids.
In fact, there are also multiple cases of couples opting for an MBA together. This article from the US News is a must-read for couples that wish to apply to business schools together.
Financing Your MBA With A Family
Although it is a great decision to experience an international MBA along with your partner, whether you both opt for an MBA or they just accompany you, the financial aspect can be a little jarring.
We will not be discussing any financial aid or scholarships in this section. The tuition of your business school, although important, is hardly half the cost you would incur while moving abroad with your partner and kids.
Even after receiving significant scholarships, bills rack up high before you even know it. From living accommodations for a family to the monthly expenses, you will need to explore part-time jobs and other methods of generating income.
Abhishek Bali, our applicant that cracked Cornell, had to manage multiple jobs along with a rigorous one-year MBA program.
Since Abhishek truly understands the struggle of the Indian MBA applicants trying to afford a $150K+ education, he was more than happy to share his experience with Managing Loans, Financial Aid, working while getting an MBA.
“Once you get an admit, you have to show enough funds in your account. I think it's called a letter of, I don't know, financial intent or something. I was actually worried, being from a middle-class family. So, in that letter, I had seven people vouching for $10,000, $12,000, $5,000, and the likes. And now it seems funny because I got an okay from there.
When I reached Cornell, they had already told me that Cornell is very distinct in the sense that it becomes a co-signer for you when you get an admit there. And to top it, that was the first year that they also gave us a $10,000 personal loan, which was the first time in the history of the college, which really helped me.
My journey was very interesting because it was a one-year program and during that program, I actually did six jobs. There was no day, until I graduated, that I didn’t have a job.
I taught my class in data modelling and analysis. Then I was a TA for design thinking. Then I was a consultant for digital marketing. So, you know, all my experience before joining the MBA was put to use. This was one of the advantages of doing an MBA in a US school that has the entire ecosystem of a University.
I got a patent with a professor in a panel school at Cornell.”
From Abhishek’s experience, you might
How Top Business Schools Help MBA Students with Families
As much as an MBA applicant sacrifices for an MBA or faces the cultural shock of an International MBA, their spouse and kids do too. Which means the well-being of their partners and kids is equally important as they decide which business school to attend.
Wharton’s Deputy Vice Dean of Student Life in 2010, Kembrel Jones, or the “Dean of happiness” as he was known by many, made two statements on different occasions that give a clear view of the stance top business schools should be taking in regards to students’ partners.
Jones’ told an online publication, “A happy partner means a happy student”, in 2010. He then told the same publication, “A Happy student is a generous alum”, in 2015.
While Jones’ didn’t directly say so, but connecting the dots, one can safely assume that a happy partner is equally as important to Wharton as a happy student is.
Fortunately, a lot of top business schools follow suit. Business schools have actively started looking out for the families of their MBA applicants.
From clubs to on-campus housing facilities, top tier business schools have started investing more in making the lives of MBA applicants with families much easier.
Following are the business schools that have spectacular resources that cater to MBA applicants with families.
Abhishek Bali started his MBA journey 6 years ago, got accepted to an Ivy League business school, and is currently driving the North American Operations of Innovation Program at Dassault Systèmes.
Pre-MBA Abhishek had a very strong career in design. He had two master's degrees. One in structural engineering, and a master of design from IIT Delhi. Abhishek worked for an American company called Pentair for two years, moved on to work for the US Patent Office for the next one and a half years and then went on to design mobile phones in India and Korea for Samsung. That made up for a solid 6.5 years of a hardcore Product Design career.
The first big shift in Abhishek’s career trajectory came when he made a conscious switch from design to marketing. He joined MTS, a Russian telecom company and led their innovation team for four years in Gurgaon. Working with diametrically opposite bosses, logical thinkers like the Chief Marketing Officer, and the Chief Commercial Officer, prompted Abhishek to seek an MBA to understand the operational aspects of the business world.
Abhishek’s first attempt at MBA applications wasn’t good enough for him. And we say “good enough for him” because he cracked Canada’s #1 business school Rotman.
But Abhishek just knew he could do even better. He was willing to take the risk to forgo his Rotman admit and take another stab at MBA applications the coming year.
With more time to prepare his MBA applications and clarity about his need for an MBA and his post-MBA goals, Abhishek cracked an Ivy League school. His MBA journey thus moved forward with Cornell University’s MBA program.