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Anyone looking after a young family knows it is hard work. While becoming a mum quite naturally leads to a reassessment of your priorities, there is no reason to put your professional aspirations on hold.
One way many professionals choose to enhance their prospects is through further study such as an MBA.
Government statistics suggest that, as of December 2015, just 10% of directors at FTSE 100 companies are female. Furthermore, if women were starting their own business at the same rate as men, the UK would be home to another one million companies.
You could be part of improving this statistic.
An MBA is perfect for anyone looking to progress their career in business, either with their current company or by going out on their own. The rewards you will get from an MBA are sizeable, but like any further education course, it is a big commitment that shouldn’t be made lightly.
So, how can you juggle your family life with the commitments demanded by an MBA?
If you have a family to look after, it is understandable that one of the main factors making you hesitant about going back to school is the time involved. Flexibility in all aspects of your professional life is highly desirable.
Fortunately, MBA programmes tend to have a part-time option available. Designed to allow professionals to study without needing to take time off work, it is also extremely useful for new parents who want to balance their family and professional lives.
Lectures and seminars are grouped into manageable blocks, allowing you to plan ahead and ensure you are free to concentrate on the task at hand. Assignments and dissertations are completed in your own time, leaving you free to decide exactly how you fit these tasks around your family obligations.
Multiple funding options
In addition to time, money is also going to be a key consideration for you. The reality is that further education costs money and this can seem like an intimidating obstacle when you’ve got a family to support.
While taking out a loan might not be the most attractive option, there are alternatives you can look at to make your chosen course more affordable. Take a look at your potential business schools and see if any of them are offering scholarships, alumni discounts or referral schemes and factor this into your decision.
A loan is unlikely to be your preferred option, as the last thing a family needs is to be in debt. However, most loans will not require any repayments until after your course is complete. Couple this with the fact that many MBA graduates find themselves promoted very quickly after achieving an MBA and this situation seems a lot more manageable.
Plenty of people who study for an MBA find that their course colleagues are on the same journey as them. By talking to your peers, you will find out why people have joined the MBA programme and what their goals are.
Building these relationships is often cited by graduates as one of the most beneficial aspects of the course. You and your colleagues can form the perfect support network to help each other throughout the MBA experience.
While your family will be there for you throughout your studies, it is nice to have people with whom you can talk about the course, knowing that they will understand exactly what you are talking about.
Do what’s right for you
It is important to remember that there will never be a ‘perfect’ time to embark on an MBA. No one knows what their life will bring in the next three years, so waiting around might not be your best option.
Talk to your family and see what they think. It is important they understand the commitment an MBA requires and are ready to support you. Ultimately, your individual fulfilment is going to benefit the whole family in the long run.
*Dr Sara Ward is Director of MBA and Executive Programmes at Manchester Met Business School, and a mother of two. This year, Manchester Met has introduced a Women in Business Scholarship in order to increase female participation in the MBA programme.