On average, 40% of MBA students enter school with a partner, be it a spouse, fiancé, or significant other. That’s a huge number of people, and applicants need to consider their partners in the process. There are so many questions that come up when making this decision: Will my partner come with me to school? If so, how will that work out? And what would the experience be like for my partner?
As a past partner of an MBA student and a current partner of an MPA student, I have a few tips for those of you feeling unsure and anxious about this process:
Find Resources for Partners
Many MBA schools have the infrastructure and programs in place for partners of MBA students. There are resources as well as opportunities for partners to get involved and connect with other MBA partners at the school. Look for partners pages on MBA program websites. Here are a few examples: Kenan-Flagler Business School, HBS, and Dartmouth Tuck.
The first thing you should do is Google search “Partners Program” for the business schools you’re interested in. Once you find information online, you should reach out and talk with someone who’s part of the business school partner program. They’re usually willing to talk with you on the phone about their experience. If possible, visit the school when they hold their Experience Weekend event. This is the perfect time to learn about the school as well as the partner program that they have in place.
Be Open to Change
Starting a new chapter in your life with your partner is always a trying time filled with unknowns. Enrolling in an MBA program is going to lead to changes in you and your partner’s lives that could lead to conflicts. You have to remember that you two are part of this decision together, so be sure both of you are involved when you consider your options.
Think about the location of the school – is it in a city or a smaller town? What industries are prevalent in the area? Will they be a good fit for you and your partner’s career path? Will you be able to find a job easily? Ask people about their experiences but don’t expect the school or partner program to find you a job. Career services is intentionally designed to find a job for their students, not their partners.
Although there is a lot of uncertainty in this phase of your lives, finding the resources you need and being open to change are the best things you can do to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Communication between you and your partner is so important in the decision-making process as well as during the MBA program. Once the program starts, the person enrolled will probably be busier than he or she was before starting classes. During this time, communication is crucial to maintaining stability in your relationship.
Before school starts, talk about what your program priorities are, whether or not you two are willing to have a long-distance relationship, and when’s the best time to start the MBA program for both of you. It’s a commitment that will affect your relationship in a huge way, so you must discuss everything about it! Once you start school, share your calendars, prioritize time together, and do what’s best for the two of you!
Congratulations on entering a new, major phase in you and your partner’s lives. I had an amazing time following my partner to business school, and I know you will too!
Lauren Hogge is the HR Manager at Ready4. Her free time is spent eating delicious foods and going on adventures, but mostly she just loves being with people.