One question I got asked a lot as a part-time student was, “How do you do it?” The question was not as much out of amazement, but more of bemusement over the decision to pile up work with more work.
I had the same question, too, before I took the plunge and went back to school. How do people do it? You come home from work after a long day and all you want to do is sit back and catch-up on the latest Game of Thrones episode. The last thing you want is homework.
For me, the main driver was a desire to break the routine of working life. I was enjoying the tasks assigned to me at work. But five years into my career, I began to long for a new challenge that I can pursue parallel to my professional journey.
I wanted to push myself in trying out something new that was not too ambitious, yet fulfilling. Interpretive dancing was out of the question due to my physical limitations. In fact any activity that requires body flexibility was not a consideration.
So I decided to undertake postgraduate study as way to challenge and grow myself intellectually. Academics was never my strongest point growing up, neither was it my weakest — so it seemed like a fair challenge. Going for an MBA degree, which was the closest to what I did for a living seemed like the most practical choice. At least I knew for sure I wouldn’t have to bend any part of my body.
As much as I wanted to resume my academic pursuit, seven years after completing my undergraduate studies, I was not in a position to commit full-time. My wife and I had a baby on the way, therefore foregoing my income entirely was not really an option.
Thus I proceeded with a part-time programme which did require more time to complete, but nevertheless proved enriching every step of the way. Here’s why…
Learn today, apply tomorrow
One benefit I repeatedly talk about to people interested in part-time study is the ability to almost immediately apply the lessons to the workplace. An area I was keen on learning when I enrolled for an MBA was finance as I had not been exposed to this area as much at work.
The core modules of our programme included subjects like Accounting, Corporate Finance and Managerial Economics. Almost every chapter of these courses offered elements that I could directly relate to the projects I was tasked with at work.
The “real-time learning” experience was immense for my aspiration to become a well-rounded leader. And it felt nice to be able to have more engaging conversations with my colleagues from Finance and Supply Chain areas. I somehow felt like I had acquired a new language!
Self-discipline: Not your everyday mid-life crisis
The average age of my incoming cohort in January 2015 was 35. It was a diverse group from every continent (except Antarctica) with backgrounds ranging from banking to entrepreneurship and logistics to law. We even had two medical doctors in the classroom.
Some argue that this pursuit of an advanced degree is akin to other worldly acquisitions when you reach mid-life. Unlike a Porsche or a Harley, however, an MBA requires a bit more dedication and self-discipline.
I benefited hugely from the process of managing my schedule between family, work and study. I had a better appreciation of time and the importance of optimising its utilisation. It is to the point that I feel wasteful not doing anything much with the time I have now after completing the MBA.
I am trying to fill the gap by enrolling myself in a golf class, but at the rate I’m going I should probably consider another sport.
The choice is (becoming) endless
Pursuing part-time study can involve significant investment of time, money and energy. Is is therefore crucial for prospective students to thoroughly assess the options available as the commitment can last up to two years.
At Imperial College Business School, the part-time suite includes the Weekend MBA, Executive MBA, and the Global Online MBA programmes. The flexibility of these courses, with their variety of on-campus and blended modules, allow students to fully assess and tailor their options to their needs and lifestyles. Applicants can also have a “test-drive” on the Hub, where online modules are delivered.
Ultimately, the advantage of part-time study is the ability to pursue your academic ambition without putting a halt to your professional career. The growing number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) available on the Internet can be a trial for you to have a sample of the experience and decide if you should go for an MBA… or a Harley.