Full-Time Or Part-Time?
‘I may as well flip a coin,’ you think.
If I go full-time, I won’t make much money for two years. If I go part-time, I won’t have a social life between work and school. And don’t the best students – the people I want on my rolodex – go full-time?
Ah, decisions, decisions. Alas, there really isn’t a best answer. Your decision rests on what’s best for you. What is your financial and family situation? What do you hope to achieve with your education? And just how much of a workload can you absorb?
This week, Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, who has held leadership roles in student affairs, admissions, and financial aid at Cornell (Johnson), Michigan (Ross), and Arizona State (Carey), examined the advantages and disadvantages inherent to both programs. Looking for direction? Check out what differentiates each program:
Full-Time: Grinblatt Epstein depicts these programs as the “media darlings” that receive the most budget while producing the least revenue. They also have an “undergraduate” feel with more clubs and activities.
Advantages: These programs benefit from more financial aid, with 90% of all scholarships and fellowships granted to full-timers. They are structured for 23-30 year-old students who can afford to leave the workforce. Full-time students generally enjoy greater access to on-campus recruiting. They also tend to attract the best students globally. What’s more, the environment is considered to be perfect for singles looking for relationships.
Disadvantages: Full-time program often have bigger academic workloads, where academics and job hunting overshadow time with loved ones.
Part-Time: Conversely, these programs are considered the “cash cow” of MBAs and often “live in the shadow of their smaller, full-time counterpart.” In fact, some part-time students can feel “like the stepchild” of the full-time program, even though their program serves more students.
Advantages: Targeted to 24-35 year-old students, part-timer programs share the same faculty as their full-time peers, with some professors preferring to teach nights and weekends so they can devote more time to research. While there are few scholarship dollars available to part-timers, these students can cash in on employer-sponsored aid.
Disadvantages: Grinblatt Epstein notes that part-time students are considered, overall, to be “not as competitive or as diverse in terms of admissions.” This is particularly true of campuses located in less metropolitan areas. Some programs are less flexible with career services, with company events and interviews often held during the day. These programs also last longer than 2 years and rarely help students change careers.
Grinblatt Epstein also evaluated a third option: Executive MBA (EMBA) programs. Geared for 30-42 year-olds, EMBA programs are smaller than their full-time and part-time brethren, yet mix in many benefits (and drawbacks) from both programs.
Advantages: Typically meeting every other weekend, EMBA programs are attractive to students who prioritize family and work over school. They are designed for experienced high performers looking to amplify their leadership and administrative skills. According to Grinblatt Epstein, “schools take care of their EMBA students for their tuition premium” and faculty and students often bond more closely.
Disadvantages: EMBA programs are very expensive, with no scholarships available as schools “expect the student’s company to sponsor the student partially or completely.” There is also little interaction between EMBA students and the rest of the business school students.