Juggling Life and an MBA

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

As I connect with friends, family, and classmates, I often get asked how do you do it all? The truth is it’s not easy, but I make it work and so do my many amazing classmates. The answer is being clear about priorities, setting boundaries, and utilizing my time as efficiently as possible. My challenges are trying to balance a job that travels once a month, caring for 8 month old daughter with a working wife, serving on a Church Council monthly, and trying to stay healthy (sleep, eating, exercise, fun, etc.).


Make your schedule work for you

The MBA is an investment in myself which requires the support of my wife. Therefore, I am very careful when crafting my schedule each semester to minimize the burden on her to care for our 8 month daughter Sophie, take care of the home, and be present each week. In addition, my job as leader of National & International Alumni Relations for Carlson School requires I travel for events which are typically on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings.

I accomplish this by trying to only take one in-person class at a time. In order to keep my progress moving forward, I’ve utilized condensed classes and online classes. For example:

1st Semester Fall 2014 - 5 credits

  • Monday night Strategy class (10 weeks September – November)
  • 3 week condensed Personal Leadership class (3 Saturdays November)
  • Notes: Minimal overlap and both classes concluded before Thanksgiving

2nd Semester Spring 2015 - 5 credits (Daughter due February 1)

  • Saturday morning Marketing (10 weeks  January - April) 
  • Monday night Business Ethics (7 weeks April - May)
  • Notes: Limited overlap with Marketing and doesn’t interfere with travel and ensured Erin, wife, not home all day & night during Sophie’s first few months

3rd Semester Summer 2015 - 7 credits 

  • 3 week condensed Influence & Persuasion class (3 Fridays May-June)
  • 3 week condensed Negotiations class (3 Friday June)
  • Online Business Statistics Class (10 weeks Late June – Mid August)
  • Notes: 7 credits in summer with no evening or weekend class time. Aligned with manager that both condensed classes were professional development to save vacation 

In order to make it all work in the part-time program, I’ve had to stay focused and find time to fit readings, homework, and projects into a busy schedule. I’m often reading cases, writing papers after putting my daughter to sleep most nights, and Sunday night is a race to accomplish any assignments or papers that I haven’t found time to tackle throughout the week. In short, this means I haven’t watched much TV or slept in much over the past year. Although the sleep patterns are much more due to raising an infant, the point is you’ll have to adjust your routine to make it all work.

Know your priorities

The hardest part of trying to balance all these wonderful activities in my life is adjusting my expectations to match my priorities. My wife, Erin, and daughter, Sophie, mean the world to me, and I try my hardest (not perfect) to be present both physically and mentally most nights and weekends. This often means reading on the couch while Erin watches a TV show or staying up late/waking up super early to crank out a paper that I didn’t get through because diapers needed to be changed or Sophie had a hard time going to bed.

Manage expectations

I’ve also had to adjust my expectations which is a constant challenge. I’m an achiever, and I have a high bar for myself. However, my goal is to learn and grow through the program not achieve a 4.0; therefore, I’ve made a conscious effort a few times to turn in good enough papers or study enough to do well, not set the curve. This is often frustrating as I want to be recognized by my peers and professors for my abilities, but I also realize that my family comes first, next is often work, then growth/learning, and finally grades - life requires these decisions sometimes.

Make time for yourself

I want to point out that one key to making it work is taking time for myself. This includes vacations with Erin and Sophie, but also setting aside days for personal reflection, study time, and get stuff done in life. As I write this blog, I took the day off to get my computer fixed, get a haircut, write this blog post, school paper, group project, and ultimately enjoy another gorgeous fall day in Minnesota.
Is it worth it?

As I watch my peers grow in their knowledge of business, self-awareness, and broadened perceptions of the world, I can’t help but be in awe of the power of individuals to grow and change. Many days, I wonder why I’ve chosen to juggle so many things in my life, but as I look back on who I’ve met, growth in knowledge, and depth of self-awareness, I am grateful the for opportunity to grow in the MBA program for whatever the future may hold.

Best of luck in your endeavors of pursuing an MBA and juggling your crazy, wonderful life!

Josh Edgar holding daughter Sophie
















Josh Edgar with family