Part Time Business School: The Dilemma

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The Part-Time Dilemma
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Juggling Work and School

Think that you're all alone as a part-time student in the b- school world? You couldn't be more wrong! According to recent studies, most graduate students earn their degrees while juggling a career or family, or both. In fact, 52% of all grad student s in the United States are part-timers, and 87% of all master's candidates juggle a job with their studies, working an average of 37 hours a week!

If there's a possibility that you will have to work while you are in school, check out the flexibility of any program that interests you. Part-time study can make all the difference in the course-work years, where carrying two classes per semester instead of four can make balancing work and study possible. Part-time programs are slow, however, which can be discouraging.

For part-time students the frustration factor can be much higher than it is for full-time students. So before you even crack open a book, make sure you know why you're getting the degree, and have your goals and priorities clearly in focus.

Not Just Clowning Around

While part-time graduate students in the arts or sciences often have to battle perceptions that they are only dabbling in their subject, part-time business students don't often encounter this kind of prejudicial thinking. Though you might have to prove yourself somewhat more than full-time students, schools and employers really do appreciate the work involved in keeping up a regular schedule while attending classes at the same time.

In fact, this might even make you more marketable in the workforce, if you present this feat in the right light. A part-time degree, when coupled with a full-time job, demonstrates an amazing ability to prioritize and complete time-sensitive tasks.

Getting Plugged In

One of the major drawbacks of a part-time degree is that you'll have less of a chance at networking than students who are immersed in classes twenty-four hours a day. In fact, this is one of the major concerns of part-time MBA students. Because much of the MBA's benefit lies in the network you build at school, especially when attending a top program, part-timers often feel isolated and left out of the networks.

Part-timers also may not have the same access to career placement services as the full-time student. This can make a huge difference when you graduate if you're among those who are not being sponsored by their company. To counteract this disadvantage, make an appointment with the Career Development Office before you start your MBA program, and develop a good relationship with them.

Being All You Can Be

Knowing what to expect from your part time program will be incredibly helpful in the long run. You'll graduate with less debt than your full-time counterparts, and companies will admire your determination in attaining your MBA. And though you might run into some problems that full time students wouldn't encounter, these challenges can help strengthen your skills, making you a better business person.

For more tips on how to begin your job search, read:

MBA Part-Time: An insider's guide to balancing work and school.

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