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MBA programs can be very intense and demanding, especially in the first year. You have to devote signficant amounts of time and energy to study and group projects.
The most significant advantage of attending business school full-time is that students can devote as much time as possible to coursework without being stretched too thin by other competing demands.
Activities & Networking
Full-time programs generally offer a wide range of activities, often directly tied to disciplines, such as marketing or information management. These activities aid professional growth and can strengthen a personal network. Participation often is highlighted on resumes.
Networking among classmates is one of the greatest benefits of full-time MBA programs. Many B-Schools tend to admit students with significant prior work experience - those using their MBAs to immediately jump higher in a corporate hierarchy. Consequently, students are often provided with invaluable high-level contacts for potential business partners, suppliers or employers. The contacts made in b-school can help you throughout an entire career.
Internships & Job Opportunities
Full-time programs provide the opportunity to gain significant professional experience through summer placements or internships. Through these important programs, participants can test an interest in a particular field and determine if it's right for them.
At most schools, placement services generally focus on helping full-time students conduct their job searches for the often-dramatic leaps in job responsibilities and salaries that MBAs expect.
Juggling School & The Rest of Your Life
The very intensity of being a full-time student can exact a price. This is especially true for those who have been working for a while and recently returned to school. In addition, there are definitely competing demands for time for those with families. Finally, attending business school often entails relocating to a new area and unique disruptions that go along with it.
Paying for two years of full-time school is often the biggest disadvantage of being a full-time student. While financial aid is available for b-school - usually in the form of loans rather than outright grants or scholarships - you should plan on accumulating significant debt as a full-time student.
Attending business school part-time is often not a matter of choice; but one of necessity.
A Long Haul
A part-time program can drag on for a number of years, during which your commitment to an MBA will be tested by professional and personal obligations, as well as by simple fatigue.
Most schools have little, if any, financial aid for part-time students. However, many companies reimburse for some or all of the cost of tuition for continuing education. Because of this and the fact that most are working during their education, part-time students often do not occur the massive debt associated with full-time students.
This is probably the main advantage of the part-time route. Part-time students generally decide if they want to enroll for any given term. This can help relieve some of the pressure from competing professional or personal demands. Many vary their course-load in order to concentrate exclusively on a particularly difficult course and then take a heavier load later with less intensive courses.
Because of the flexible nature of part-time programs, enrollment patterns of students tend to vary greatly. This makes it comparitively difficult to develop the same kind of relationships with peers - or do the same kind of networking - that full-time students enjoy.
Juggling School & The Rest of Your Life
Managing both a part-time student career and a "real life" can be tough. The demands of job or family won't always mesh with those of school.
Executive MBA Programs
An Executive MBA Program is especially attractive to those with significant work experience and plans to continue with their present employer after graduation. Most of these programs offer classes on weekends or on Fridays and Saturdays. They are often completed in two years. However, Executive MBA Programs are usually open only to the most senior managers who are supported by their employers.
An MBA is an important investment of both time and money. Consider what sort of program suits your needs best. Then research all the options and programs as fully as you can.
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