MBA Perspectives

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Balance Work, Family and School; Students and Alumni from the MBA Program and Other Programs Share Their Strategies

According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey, Americans of all ages believe they have too much stress in their life. So, does that mean going back to school for your MBA will inevitably make you really stressed out? With proper planning and the right mental attitude, the answer is no!

We talked to Patricia Kreider, licensed psychologist from Alvernia’s Health & Wellness Center, and Alvernia students – in various stages of parenthood -- and compiled their advice on how to earn a degree, manage your job, raise your children and keep your sanity.

Set Goals & Create a Master Plan
Kreider says the first step is to determine the most beneficial way to complete the program, and then create a plan to make that happen.

“Your plan should be based on what works for you and your family, rather than on unrealistic expectations on how it “should” be done,” explains Kreider. “Sometimes this involves making some adjustments. You might have to let go of how you thought you should be doing things.”

For Nina Bohn, chief financial officer at Gateway Ticketing Systems and MBA student, that means, “giving yourself a break and realizing that the house will not be as clean as you would like.”

Fellow MBA student Shawn Hinkle, works as a Project Manager /Business Analyst at Trifecta Technologies and has a toddler at home. He recommends that students, “be realistic about how long it may take you to complete the program. You may think you can complete an MBA in two to three years but a working parent will probably find it difficult to do that.”

Look for Flexibility
If your job requires lots of travel or you often work evenings, an online MBA program might be a less stressful way to earn your degree.

Kreider recommends researching the requirements of the program, then seriously looking at your life to see if it’s a realistic match. Are full time internships required? Is there a minimum number of credits per semester?

Hinkle took two classes online and says that, “the online courses are convenient when trying to juggle a busy schedule.”

Build Support Networks
While you are creating a plan for how to accomplish everything, realize that not everything always goes as planned. Thus, it’s important to think through how you will deal with emergencies before they happen.

Christina Nelson, a mother of two, and an undergrad business student, realized early on that she needed support networks to help at home and at school. “Other parents can help me with carpooling,” she adds, “and I have a network of students which is helpful if I miss a class they can fill me in on what I missed.”

According to Kreider, having support networks lets you participate in two ways – asking and giving – and both are helpful for you psychologically.

“It can be comforting to know that you are not alone in trying to manage a busy life,” explains Kreider. “It can help to lessen the anxiety over asking others for help when you have a plan to help each other.”

Consider Your Children’s Ages
The strategies for combining schoolwork with parenting depend on the ages of the children. With a 10 and a 12 year old in the house, Nelson often involves her children in a fun way. She’ll make an event out of going to the library on campus, they’ll get a study room and all three will do their homework at the same time.

She also makes sure she shows them her report card. “They see that I get all As and Bs,” says Nelson, “and I tell them I can get good grades because they let me have time to study.”

Bohn’s children are 16 and 18 years old. Parenting teenagers usually requires lots of time behind the wheel so Bohn is grateful her husband has assumed the job of shuttling them everywhere.

It’s tough to get anything done with a toddler, let alone study, so even though his wife helps keep his son entertained, Hinkle usually does his homework when his son is in bed. “It’s part of the reason I only take one class a semester,” adds Hinkle.

Remember your Long Term Plan
Kreider advises students to stay focused on their goals. “When something happens, keep your eye on why you are pursuing the degree and realize there are different ways to get there.”

Juliette Jean-Philippe Antoine, a single mother of two children, worked full time while she earned her degree in business administration and computer science. She shared this advice on Alvernia’s Facebook page, “Juggling family, school, and work at the same time takes commitment. I had a goal to reach. I wanted a better life for my babies and the only way I was going to get that life was to return to school.”

All of the students emphasized that while it’s not easy, they believe it’s worth it. If students find themselves overwhelmed, Kreider says Alvernia’s Health & Wellness Center is here to help.

“You don’t have to be falling apart to benefit from counseling. A few sessions can help you to get perspective and know if you are managing things okay,” she adds.

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Convenient Locations

Alvernia locations in Reading, Pottsville, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Attend Classes in:
Reading, PA (Main Campus)
Pottsville, PA

Both locations offer evening classes and follow the same fall, spring and summer terms.

Business professionals from Harrisburg, Lancaster, Allentown, Reading, Kutztown, Philadelphia and the suburbs surrounding these cities attend classes for their MBA either in the classroom or online.

Where Alumni Work

  • Enersys
  • First Energy
  • Godiva
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Merck & Co.
  • Penske Logistics
  • Reading Hospital
    and Medical Center
  • Sovereign Bank
  • TE Connectivity
  • Teleflex Medical
  • UGI Utilities
  • Valspar
  • The Vanguard Group
  • VF Outlets
  • Walt Disney Company
  • Worley Parsons
An MBA from Alvernia opens doors to careers wih a variety of companies throughout the region and the nation.

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