[Guest Blog] 5 ways being an MBA spouse has changed my life for the better

For me, writing is therapeutic, so I’ve shared a lot about my experience as the wife of an MBA student through blogs like MBA Chic. Most of the time, I write about how it’s changed my life — and not always for the better.

There are a lot of unique challenges that come with joining your significant other on a path from student to working professional to student again, and it has always been my intention to offer an honest, realistic viewpoint of what others can expect when they embark on a similar journey.

It’s important to note, however, that with this great sacrifice comes great rewards, and there are notable ways in which my life has changed for the better since my husband started hitting the books again. Here are a few of them:

Meeting people from around the globe. The network you’re exposed to as a business school student and a significant other is quite phenomenal. You get to meet and learn about people who come from every type of background imaginable, and it gives you a healthy appreciation for the challenges — and triumphs — students experienced to get where they are today.

As someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to travel a lot, I love hearing stories about an over-the-top wedding ceremony in Japan, the incredible number of people that live and work in India, or the unimaginable bravery and resilience that a former Army Ranger exhibited in the midst of a life-and-death situation. They share their highest highs and their lowest lows, and their openness and candor really inspires you.

Getting the chance to live in an exciting city. Depending on where your significant other chooses to go to school, it can be a great opportunity to live in a brand new city with destination spots to explore and delicious food to sample. I was fortunate in that we ended up in New York City, which is, arguably, one of the most exciting cities in the world. We’re a short Subway ride away from the center of the universe — aka Times Square — and from other landmarks like the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While two years may seem like a long time, it really does fly by, so I encourage everyone to make the most of their time in a new city. Try all of the locals’ favorite cuisine, and discover some hole-in-the-wall places on your own. Walk when you can, because you never know when you might stumble upon a tiny gem — like an entire store devoted to the movie “The Big Lebowski,” for example. I try to remind myself that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s important to take advantage of what it has to offer.

Fringe benefits because you’re a packaged deal. This one’s simple: If you’re an MBA spouse, most schools want to try to make the transition as easy as possible for you, so that you can help maintain a happy home. Perks like access to the university gym, library and career services might not sound like much, but if you’re new to the city and simply looking to put yourself out there, these types of things present the perfect opportunity. Want to take some classes? Go right ahead — many schools offer discounted or free course offerings for MBA better halves. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

Opportunities to travel to unexpected places. “Wait. B-school students travel? Aren’t they supposed to be studying?” While excellence in the classroom is a top priority for most students, so is fraternizing with their peers in the real world as well. My husband just completed his first semester, and already we’ve been to the U.S. military academy, West Point, where we toured its beautiful campus, tailgated with fellow visitors and attended an Army-Navy football game. Would I have taken it upon myself to make the trek up there? Probably not. Was it a worthwhile experience? Absolutely.

There are frequent weekend trips that significant others are encouraged to attend with their students, so if it’s feasible to do so, I say go for it.

Sharing a life-changing experience. (Insert cliché, uplifting power ballad here.) In all seriousness, for as much as the b-school experience is about your significant other taking his or her career to the next level, at the end of the day, it’s one milestone in the life that you’re building together. Yes, I’ve been stressed out. Yes, there have been days where I’ve wondered why I signed up for this. But I did sign up for better or worse, so even when I don’t want to, I try to see the glass half-full. I think if you do, you’ll be open to the possibility that you just might glean some value out of this journey, too.

Fellow better halves: What have you enjoyed most about the business school experience?

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Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading family nurse practitioner programs. She is passionate about photography, community building, and University of Michigan football. Follow her on Twitter @ericajmoss.

[Guest Blog] Priorities change when you combine an MBA, marriage

My husband is not someone who makes a decision lightly.

We used to joke that we had a common-law marriage because we were together more than 8 years before he proposed. He’ll go back to a shoe store three times before committing to one pair of slip-ons, and I refuse to play Scrabble with him because he takes an outlandish amount of time to commit to his next word.

Choosing a business school was no different. He studied tirelessly for the GMAT to secure a score that would make him a great candidate in an extremely competitive landscape. He chatted with friends pursuing the same career path, spent hours on admissions forums, checked the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and visited campuses with top MBA programs like the University of Chicago (Booth) and Columbia University. Poets & Quants became his homepage.

When he began classes this fall at one of his dream schools, reality started to set in. As a newly married couple, we would not be charting the same course that so many of our peers were at this stage in their lives. It became increasingly clear that our priorities were shifting, and it would be at least two years before we started tackling the “normal” next steps.

The following are a few areas in which we’ve hit the pause button in favor of my husband advancing his career:

Starting a family. When you’re together as long as we were before getting married, you start to get the “so when are you guys going to tie the knot?” question. A lot. Then, just when you think you’ve quieted the peanut gallery, you’re faced with the inevitable baby question. While many of our friends are taking this next step, business school has put the brakes on it for us. While it is an exciting time in our lives, it is also a stressful one, and I think adding the extra pressure of a newborn would simply be too much. Not to mention the lack of space in our tiny, one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side, and the fact that we’re currently depending on one income.

It is important to note, however, that I do know of at least a handful of people who are making the MBA/parents thing work, so it can be done — it just isn’t something we’re willing to commit to at this time.

Buying a house. When you’re living in a place like New York City, buying real estate is not for the faint of heart. Not only is it extremely competitive with high turnover rates, but also you’re paying for a piece of one of the most desirable cities in the world — and it’ll cost you. While friends around the country are securing beautiful starter homes, house hunting is not even on our radar at this point in time. Again, with so many unknowns, it doesn’t make sense to be tied down with a mortgage. What if he doesn’t land a job after graduation? What if we decide to move again in a few years? Renting works just fine for us.

Furthering my education. While it’s tough for me to imagine being back in the classroom after a handful of years as a working professional, I’ve pondered it from time to time and would strongly consider pursuing a master’s degree in a field like marketing. However, the thought of both of us taking on more debt and being full-time students simultaneously doesn’t sound all that appealing. That’s not to say it will never happen, but it’s simply not a viable option right now. Perhaps at the end of his two-year journey, I can revisit this idea, or simply take a few classes in the meantime.

I’d love to hear from some fellow “better halves.” What are some sacrifices you’ve had to make that, perhaps, your other married friends haven’t? How have you been able to cope?

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Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online masters in nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading nurse midwife programs. She is passionate about photography, community building, and University of Michigan football. Follow her on Twitter @ericajmoss.