Deciding on Part-Time Vs. Full-Time MBA

The Endless Debate

OK so you’re thinking about going to business school or you have already decided you’re going to apply. There are going to be a ton of questions that go through your mind. What school? Where? How are you going to pay for it? Do you plan on concentrating on anything? Do you want to pick a school based off of ranking or based off of some of the classes they offer? But the one that I hear most (but coincidentally, this was the one I debated least) was whether to go to business school full-time or part-time. As with most debates, there are pros and cons to both sides. And those pros and cons may differ based on your own needs and requirements of a particular program but it’s probably helpful to review some of the criteria, benefits, and pitfalls of both routes.

Full-time

Pros:

  1. Less time to completion – most people are done in 2 years
  2. Easy access to resources – you’re not working so while at school during the day you can easily reach faculty and staff
  3. More variety in schools – there are way more full-time programs than there are part-time programs
  4. More classes at one time but less competing priorities so should be easier to manage
  5. Easier to attend school-sponsored events, including job fairs
  6. You will go through the whole program with the same group of people so easier to build a social circle and/or support system with your peers

Cons:

  1. Foregoing income for 2 years so your lifestyle will change during this time
  2. You are not getting professional experience during this time, so it’s more challenging to apply what you are learning right away
  3. You may be taking on lots of debt
  4. The chances are slim that you will get help from an employer to go full-time but even if you do, you will need to commit to working for them for a certain period of time post-graduation

Part-time

Pros:

  1. Your company may pay for some or all of it
  2. You are earning money during this time
  3. Your are continuing to gain professional experience during this time
  4. You are able to apply what you learn in the class to what you do at work right away – this is largely a function of immediately getting you to think differently about your existing and past roles
  5. You learn how to manage your time like a champ
  6. Lots of learning opportunity from other students who have full-time jobs, particularly during class discussions
  7. You may not need to take many loans out or you can pay for credits as you go

Cons:

  1. More time to completion – BU allows up to 6 years
  2. More complicated to access school resources and attend school events
  3. Less variety in schools and in classes (not all classes are easily available for part-time students every single semester
  4. You may be limited in your ability to get student loans
  5. LOTS of priority juggling – work, school, family (especially if you have kids), social life, travel, gym, etc. – everything gets tougher to make time for
  6. Hard to find scholarships that part-time students are eligible for
  7. It’s more difficult to build a social circle, particularly one that you speak and meet with outside of school

Each of these points could mean different things and even rank differently for different people and that’s OK. What it comes down to is this question: WHY DO YOU WANT TO GO TO BUSINESS SCHOOL? Your answer to this one question can help you determine what your priorities are, bring some self-awareness around your current professional (and personal) situation, and make the decision much easier for you.

For me, business school was not about finding a new job. I love selling, dealing with people, building relationships, traveling, etc. What it was about for me was to get me to think differently and be a more valuable asset to any company I work for and, ultimately, set me up for success if and when I choose to start my own company. Additionally, although I knew I would need to become a stud at time management, I was not willing to make changes to the lifestyle that my wife and I had and I didn’t want to take out any loans. So the decision was a pretty easy one for me but it was all because I asked myself that one question and was able to come to terms with my own pros and cons list.

So why do YOU want to go to business school?

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One thought on “Deciding on Part-Time Vs. Full-Time MBA

  1. Pingback: Paying for your MBA Out of Pocket | PEMBAstonian

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