Five Tips For Surviving Business School as a Significant Other

Congratulations, your student has been accepted to business school!

Business school can be an exciting and enriching experience for both you and your student, however you must work together to maintain a healthy, balanced relationship during the next two years. Here are a few ways to do just that:

1. Plan Quality Time – Chances are your student will be super busy; outside of class, there are club meetings, speakers, group projects, class preparation, career search, networking events, and social activities that will pull your student in a million different directions. It’s important to allocate time to spend together on a regular basis and don’t cancel those plans. Decide in advance what time will be allocated to the relationship or family – create a weekly date night or make sure to schedule regular dinners at home.

2. Communicate Often – When no two days are the same, you will have many questions like: “Will your student be home for dinner tonight?”; “Are you both free this weekend?”; “What school events can you take part in?” Proactively engage your student. Don’t hesitate to ask the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. You may even want to share access to your Outlook calendars so you can see each other’s schedules. Don’t feel like you are in the dark when it comes to the academic and social calendar.

3. Get Your Own Life – Don’t allow yourself to simply feel like you are along for the ride. Sitting at home waiting for your student will only make you miserable and cause frustration in your relationship. During the next two years, take the opportunity to advance your current career or try a new career path, continue your education, or volunteer. Make friends with other significant others who are in the same boat as you are. Go to book club, host dinners at each other’s homes, or plan a game night. Keeping yourself busy and pursing your own interests will eliminate unnecessary stress on your relationship.

4. Agree On A Budget – “How can we afford this?” is a common fear…especially when full-time MBA programs won’t allow your student to work for two years. Typically your student may receive scholarship or financial aid to cover the costs of tuition and fees, or they will have to finance their education. If you are taking out loans to pay for your cost of living, agree on the amount and stick to your monthly budget. Discuss big expenses such as travel opportunities and how much you can spend on these. You may need to downgrade your spending and lifestyle for two years.

5. Prioritize Your Needs – Talk openly and honestly with your student about your relationship needs. Balancing business school demands and your relationship can be a challenge. When your student is pulled in many directions, it may result in their sacrificing life at home. Although you want to support your student in their academic pursuits, you also want to feel your student must also give 100% to the relationship.

Featured photo courtesy ubrayj02 (Flickr).

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About Ashly Gryzb

Ashly Grzyb was a significant other at Harvard Business School from 2009-2011. She served as the President of the Partners Club and wrote a column about partner life for the student newspaper, The Harbus. She lives with her husband of one year and their French bulldog in New York City.