Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bringing Your Significant Other to Business School

While the decision to attend business school is a difficult choice for everyone, it becomes even more complicated when you are in a committed relationship. The choice suddenly moves away from being all about you and your career, to what is best for you and your family. With dozens of other factors weighing into your decision to attend business school (or even what school to attend!), the process can quickly become overwhelming.

When my husband and I started deciding whether I should go back to school (an eventually which school I should attend), we did several things that helped make the decision much easier:

1. Make a 10 year plan. It may sound silly, but if where you want to be in 10 years doesn’t involve a path where you went back to school, getting your MBA may not be the best choice for your family.

2. Reach out to the admissions committee in any school you are potentially interested in, specifically regarding their support of spouses/partners. Many schools have official programs to help partners through the transition of business school, including both career resources and social programs.

3. Talk to the state department of labor for each school you are interested in. I was surprised with how helpful they are in job searches, and for information regarding the job market in specific areas.

4. Decide whether or not a long distance relationship is an option for you. Every couple is different, and from my observations of my classmates thus far, there is a pretty balanced mix of partners who moved together, and partners who have chosen to live apart for the two years of business school.

5. Have completely candid communication with your spouse/partner. Make a deal in the beginning of the process that both of your opinions matter and deserve to be heard. It’s hard to come so close to making a decision, and then realize you were not on the same page.

While there is no right choice for everyone, thoroughly examining every option before making “the decision” will only help you in the long run. For my husband and I, the right choice was moving together to Ithaca, but that did not come without hours of research and open conversation.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at I’m happy to help in any way I can.

Lindsay Petrovic, Forté Foundation Fellow
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

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