On balancing life and work: The transition to being a Goizueta Evening MBA student

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I’ve heard many people say this to evening students, referring to how we work during the day and attend class at night.

So how do we do it?

I appreciate the props for the hard work (or perhaps the questioning of our sanity!), but I think the underlying assumption is that, as students, our day becomes one long, continuous work session. Of course, nobody wants to work a 14-hour day. I would say, however, that once I leave my job, the environment changes (think fresh perspective). As a student, I use a totally different skill set and get to spend time with my new “family.” By “family,” I mean that Goizueta is a community in which everyone is helping each other move together toward the same goal, not “one-upping” each other to get ahead. This leads to a much better environment that, for me, turns out to be more like a relief after a long day at work than a continuation of work itself.

That said, it is definitely a new – and rather busy – lifestyle that takes time to get used to. The good news is there are ways to make the transition a little easier.

As a prospective student, I think the single best thing you can do to prepare is to think of the application, GMAT/GRE and (hopefully) the orientation process as practice. Did you give up a fun-filled weekend for some last-minute GMAT studying? Miss out on family time to attend a networking event? Ask yourself if you are going all-in and are willing rise to the challenge for the next couple of years. If you can’t do it before you start school, it won’t get any easier later. Practice the self-discipline now for a smoother transition.

It is also critical to make sure you have the support of your closest friends and family (especially your significant other, if you have one). If you’re not sure, talk to them and openly discuss their concerns before you dive deep into the program. You will need your support system.

Perhaps you are thinking “Will I have time for ____ once I start the program?” or “How do you balance life, work and school?” The answer is that if something (or someone) is really important to you, you will make the time. The rest will be put on hold for a while, but remember that it’s temporary. Another huge advantage to this program is that it is flexible in case you need to speed up or slow down the pace a little – because, well, life happens.

To me, Goizueta’s Evening MBA program as a whole is not really about adding more work to your plate but about enriching your work experience, becoming a better person and problem solver, and yes, making sacrifices along the way (just like any good thing in life). What you gain in return will make you forget all about those late nights studying!

Ashley Freeman

Ashley Freeman

Ashley Freeman is an 18EvMBA student and full-time manager in Emory’s Department of Orthopaedics under the School of Medicine. She is a leadership coaching, talent development and employee engagement enthusiast. In her free time, she loves crocheting, painting, traveling, playing cello, teaching French and music, and spending time with her husband and pet bird. Connect with Ashley on Twitter (@AshleySFreeman) or on LinkedIn.

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