Tips for Students, Partners, and Families

For Students

We asked some recent graduates for their advice for you, and here’s what they had to say:

  • Remember that you aren't ignoring the family, you're setting an example for them.
  • Skim read and highlight facts early in the week. Review highlights before class.
  • Be prepared to meet a whole new family. Get to know them early as you won't be alone while being "traumatized" by the process.
  • Relate everything to your place of employment - double dip from the effort.
  • Expect to notice a difference in yourself after just a few classes.
  • Everyone is a resource, not just the members of your team. Reach out. This not a competition with the other students... really.
  • I don't miss the papers, presentations or tests. What I do miss is the camaraderie of my peers and the intellectual stimulation that was provided in the learning environment at Loyola. No one project, paper or presentation will define your graduate business program, but instead it's the friendships earned during the time invested. Immerse yourself in the people around you and you will truly have a successful program.
  • Also, the faculty does not have the silver bullet or the ultimate answer. They only have opinions. Challenge their opinions! It will make for more interesting classes and provide for a deeper learning experience.
  • First, families and students need to understand that life as a MBA student is a commitment, both in terms of time and effort. Students have to continually balance their family demands with school and teamwork on a weekly basis. Some weeks will require heavy concentration on school work while others can be spent with friends and family. Knowing how to communicate that to each party is key! What helped our team was to meet on a Sat/Sun and plan for the following week. We also shared our calendars and time commitments so we could plan presentations/projects better.
  • Second, organizational skills are tested to the max! School is similar to a full time job and requires an organized schedule. In fact I scheduled my homework and projects daily so I could keep track of everything. If students lose their ability to feel like they are in control of the process, they will become frustrated and family/friends will suffer. I saw this time and time again with team members. Get a good calendar or keep track of everything on a Blackberry, Outlook, etc. Find some way to organize all of the work. My team created a spreadsheet that laid out all assignments for the term and we shared it with each other. This kept us on the same page and we visited it every week to make sure we were on track.
  • Third, understand that it is not enough just to show up to class unprepared. Students need time to work and understand what they are reading on a weekly basis and retain what they learn, not just memorize the articles/books. This is not undergrad anymore, I can't stress this enough! Knowing this, families and friends have allowed students the opportunity to learn (however best the student learns). Sometimes this is a couple of quiet hours at home or a coffee shop, etc.
  • Fourth, teamwork is far more challenging than a student anticipates, even at a graduate business school level. It is stressful, demanding, and affects every student. This means family and friends will also be impacted and the best thing they can do is support and listen to the student during stressful weeks.
  • Lastly, don't forget to make time for family and friends. A graduate business degree is a commitment, but needs to be kept in check. It is a balancing act and remembering to spend time with family/friends is important. I dedicated one day week to talk to friends or have a couple of drinks, etc. Sometimes if my school work was light I went home (Michigan) and visited family to do something fun! Remember to have fun, you'll learn so much more than a management model or economic theory. You learn how to think and communicate on a different level!

For Partners and Families

We asked some recent graduates to offer some advice for the families of graduate business students – after all, this new adventure is yours as well as your partner's! Here's what they had to say:

  • As I reflect back (see I learned to "reflect"!) the advice I'd have for the family is that they should show an interest in what the student is doing whenever he/she has time to put their head up. Carve out certain times (mine were Saturday evening’s on class days) which were "no school" times when we did something fun together... even if it was just watching a movie. But also, the family needs to remind the student that they have needs and that they can't be ignored completely. The other part that worked for us was always talking about classes, professors, fellow students. I wanted Barbara and the boys to be as much a part as they could be. But we all also were realistic about the fact that it was something that I was doing and not them and so there weren’t unrealistic expectations of inclusion. I'd often ask for ideas at the dinner table for papers. I'd tell funny stories about the professors that would help to get the boys to tell stories about their teachers. And finally, not sure if you want to let the secret out, but year two is so much easier than year one. Not just because of the program but because everyone in the family has made the transition.
  • At the beginning of each module/semester, and really every week after that, my husband and I sat down and looked at my school schedule and deliverables, my work travel schedule and his work schedule. We just sort of mapped out every quarter or so, and then sat down every Sunday night to understand what had to be accomplished by everyone during that week. He always knew when it was really crazy for me, and when it wasn't, he was able to take on more at work, etc.
  • I think with a little bit of planning and forewarning, we were able to work well together, as a family. My husband always knew when big projects or papers were due, and he was very understanding as crunch time got closer. He also provided great wisdom, counseling , and guidance when deadlines were approaching and I lacked motivation.
  • Basically, nothing ever snuck up on us as a family, and as a couple, we were able to partner together to respect each other's work schedule, school demands, and other family priorities.
  • Our calendars were extremely full, but there were no surprises, no all-nighters and very little squabbling over school and work demands.