A day in the life of a Goizueta Evening MBA student
Many friends, family members, colleagues and students from other programs have said to me that they don’t know how we (evening students) do what we do. In this post, I’m hoping to demystify the lifestyle through examples to show that it’s really not as bad as it may seem.
A typical class day
Since we are employed full-time, the day begins with going to work. If there were classes or team meetings the night before, this can be a groggy start, so it helps to organize your to-do list by amount of brain power needed, and do the tasks that are more monotonous first if you have the flexibility to do so. Other times, you have an early meeting the morning after a long night of team meetings, and coffee is your best friend. The key there is to be purposeful about resting when you do have the opportunity later.
Some students use their lunch break to finish reading a case before class, submit an assignment or check-in with their team on a project. The evening program is all about finding creative ways to accomplish tasks efficiently since time is limited. Personally, I prefer to compartmentalize work and school so that I am only doing work at work and only focusing on school while on campus. Each student settles into a rhythm that works for them.
Time to leave work. I am extraordinarily fortunate that I live close to both work and school, so I can stop by home and grab dinner on the way to class on lighter days, or I can pack dinner to bring on days when I need to go straight to school (such as a before-class activity or a late work meeting). Those with the longest commutes need to leave earlier than 5 p.m., but since we tend to have class only two days per week, most employers are understanding.
If you’re able to get to campus early, this can be ideal time for preclass meetings with your team, last-minute reading for class, extracurricular activities or meeting with your professor. There is free parking nearby as early as 4 p.m., so you’ll often see evening students arriving early.
Class begins. Those mentioned previously with long commutes might come to class with take-out in-hand to eat during class. I’ve heard others say they eat dinner after getting home from class, but I can’t wait that long. ?
Typically, we take a break around this time. The program office has snacks and coffee during the break, so it’s the ideal place to find your friends from other classes and catch up or enjoy some fresh air on the courtyard balcony. One of the two program advisors stay through the break each class night to answer any questions you might have (or provide pizza during exams!).
Class ends. If you have an assignment due soon, you might use some time after class to discuss the project with your team mates (especially if they live farther away, and it’s hard to get together). Other times, you might just want to make a beeline for the car, home and bed! We occasionally have social gatherings at nearby restaurants or in the courtyard to wind down with a beer and chat with friends before heading home.
For me, this is unwinding time and prep for the next day (which can include homework during heavier times). Keep in mind that I’m a night person — some of the morning people in the group get to work early to get class work done before work hours begin. I can confidently say in the over two years I’ve been at Goizueta, I have not once done this!
Nonclass and weekend days
Although time is at a premium, you’ll make time for what’s most important to you. As incoming students, we were advised to expect to spend about two hours outside of class for every hour in class — that’s roughly 10 or 12 hours. I’ve found that to be pretty true in my case with one important caveat: It’s an average. Each week can vary widely depending upon your strengths, course load and the class.
I hope this helps shed some light on what it’s like to be an evening student and show how doable it is. It’s all about being creative and efficient with your time!
Acknowledgement: I wanted to thank Scott Kagan who wrote a similar blog in 2015 when I was a prospective student. I found it to be a very helpful visualization and wanted to pay that forward.