I just finished reading the results from our annual graduating student survey for the class of 2017 -- a yearly survey that covers all aspects of the programs across Booth. Reading the comments made by our Weekend MBA Program graduates got me thinking about what advice I’d have for someone contemplating an MBA program far away from where they live.
First thing I’ll say is it’s not for the faint of heart. The Chicago Booth Weekend MBA requires 43 trips a year to Chicago (assuming you enroll in all four quarters). Every year around 170 students accept that challenge, and according to the recent grads in our survey, they’ve had a very positive experience. So what did they say about it? What is most often cited is:
The value of stepping out of their day-to-day, local community to broaden professional and personal perspectives and widen their circle of advisors, friends, colleagues.
Because of Booth’s flexibility, it’s possible to take some quarters off, which leads to my first piece of advice:
Look for a program that offers you flexibility. Most likely there will be a time when you need a break, like taking a vacation or spending time with your family and friends. You’ll want to make sure your MBA program supports that need.
Secondly, keep in mind that your class day is usually limited to a single day and two class meeting times. Be prepared to do some careful course planning to achieve your learning objectives. Our academic advisors are here to assist with your course planning. They conduct hundreds of meetings with students, and you should take advantage of their expertise. Our advisors work around your schedule and can meet with you on weekends or on the phone.
And thirdly, campuses are places with a lot happening, from talks by visiting executives, to social get-togethers and career workshops. Even though many of our student group events are held on Saturdays, as a Weekend MBA student who is only on campus one or two days a week, know that you won’t be able to attend everything. But I’ll let you in on a little secret - most campus activities are scheduled well in advance, allowing you time to plan ahead. For example, you will know the date of our very popular Winter Formal well in advance. You can make plans to stay in Chicago that night, and even connect with your classmates about sharing a hotel room to cut down on costs. Sitting down with a student life advisor with your interests in hand can help you plan your calendar. It may require coming to campus a little early or staying on a little longer, but from my experience with our Weekend students, this is a valuable trade-off.
Contemplating an MBA requires careful analysis, and if you‘re thinking about adding travel to the mix, I hope what I’ve laid out above will help you make the right decision.