I just started my Executive MBA at the University of Chicago Booth London campus and I can already say that life is not easy. Juggling an ascending career in the busy London media scene with a demanding academic programme, all while trying not to get dumped by family and friends is a challenge to say the least. However, despite the difficulties (and the whopping $155,000 tuition fees) the Executive MBA is a far superior choice to the full time programme. Here are five reasons why:
You get to keep your job. Yes, the economy is improving, but the world is still a risky place. Also, if you like what you do and you are good at it, do you really want to leave it? Right now, I get to do a job I love, and enrich my mind and my network at school. It’s the best of both worlds.
You apply and test what you learn. What is the point of taking a negotiations class in a full time programme and trying to remember what you learnt when you’re negotiating a salary two years later? I get to do it now! This also of course applies to the network you build. Your clients, advisors and financiers are in your class already – you don’t have to wait for them to get jobs. Finally, your employer is likely to start valuing you more as you progress in your degree. I know a student in his final EMBA at Booth who got a bumper bonus because his employer already knows that many doors will swing open for him after graduation and they want to keep him.
The people in your class are likely to be far more interesting and impressive than in the full time programme. Full time MBAs at the top schools are undoubtedly bright, but simply by the virtue of their age (the average at Harvard Business School being 27) many have not had the chance to flex their muscles yet. In my class I have a guy who runs his own hedge fund in Monaco and a lady running a top PR firm in Hong Kong. These are the people who can seriously help your career, not a 26-year-old Goldman Sachs analyst.
Many professors prefer teaching the executive MBA course. This is because the students ask better questions and make more intelligent comments than their less experienced peers. Again, this is not questioning the ability of the full time MBAs. It is simply a reflection of their relative lack of experience. Seeing a world-class professor excited to teach a class makes the entire class excited too. Overall this makes the learning experience far more pleasant and effective, which is important if you’re paying the fees out of your own pocket!
People who have been out of school for a while relish being back. My classmates and I genuinely appreciate being back in a classroom. We enjoy being students again because we didn’t leave our last classroom three years ago. This makes a big difference, especially when your brain is aching in the hard finance classes.
A special note for women: The average EMBA age is 37, which means that EMBA classes are predominantly male. For example my class is 80% men. There are various reasons for this, one of them being that many women in their 30s are busy with young children. This means that if you are thinking about the EMBA, get it out of the way before you have children. I applied when I was 30 and started the programme at 31 in the knowledge that if I was to leave it for later, it may might not happen at all.
To sum it up, the EMBA route is difficult. You are forced to juggle many things at once. However, speaking like a true business student, the benefits of progressing at work and getting a world-class degree outweigh the costs.
This article was originally posted on Forbes.com