Why Online MBA Programmes are the Perfect Fit for Working Parents | TopMBA.com

Why Online MBA Programmes are the Perfect Fit for Working Parents

By Niamh O

Updated March 25, 2021 Updated March 25, 2021

Maaike Van Craen said: “Choose a flexible programme that works best for you and you’ll be able to fit everything you want to do in."

Maaike Van Craen (pictured) is an online MBA student at Vlerick Business School. Having completed a teaching degree and a master’s in drug development and pharmaceutical science, she is working as a medical affairs manager alongside her studies.

Maaike Van Craen

She said: “I hope to use the MBA to shift more into a business management role using the skills learned.”

“It wasn’t enough to just have scientific pharmaceutical knowledge. I wanted to move further in my career and take on a new challenge and taking on an MBA would help me get to that next level.”

But, like many prospective MBA students, she was working full-time, had bills to pay, and couldn’t afford to leave her job, and so an online MBA offered the perfect solution.

She said: “I found an online and flexible programme was the best way for me to study an MBA, but also fit it around everything else in my life."

Now, of course, an online MBA is still a difficult qualification – but the flexibility is the real selling point.

Maaike said: “I was pregnant right at the start of the MBA programme with my first child, but the flexibility allowed me to still start and fit in modules when it suited me.”

She says she also benefited from taking breaks during the programme – something you’re able to do during your studies. She said: “The Online MBA can be completed at any speed between one and five years.

“I don’t think I could have continued with the programme without this feature. It allowed me to take breaks for when I had both my children, and also when I moved job halfway through and for school holidays to spend time with family.”

Why flexibility is so important for parents

One thing that often dissuades some mothers from undertaking advanced degree programmes is the rigid nature of the beast – but with an online MBA, flexibility is a major selling point.

Maaike said: “I think flexibility is so important, in my experience, because I certainly would not have been able to study for an MBA without it.”

With two children, and also working full-time, Maaike says it would have been incredibly difficult to stick to all the work if she didn’t have the flexibility to do the work when it suited her.

In fact, the online MBA offers so much flexibility, Maaike had the option to delay an exam for her due date. She said: “I had an exam around my proposed birth date, and they were more than happy to be flexible and postpone my exam for me if need be.”

She understands a lot of women may be in a similar position with young children at home, or thinking about having children, but she says it shouldn’t stop them from pursuing education.

Maaike said: “Choose a flexible programme that works best for you and you’ll be able to fit everything you want to do in. This is even the case if you begin a new job or move – you can simply pause the MBA and come back to it when best suits you.”

The benefits of online MBA programmes

Maaike believes online MBA programmes – and their popularity – are the future of the MBA.

Previously, many employees or students had the option to work or study remotely, but Maaike says this isn’t the case for many people now, seeing as the way we live and learn has completely changed in the past 12 months.

Maaike said: “We now see that you can get just as good a quality MBA online, but also have greater flexibility in your own lives, allowing you to fit more into a shorter period.

“People are comfortable with working virtually now, and more open to learning virtually too, I think this will only cause a rise in Online MBA participants.”

But what made her choose Vlerick’s online MBA programme?

Maaike says Vlerick fit with what she was looking for in a programme, and as she grew up nearby, she was aware of the business school’s reputation, and the standard of the Online MBA.

She said: “Ever since beginning the programme I have not regretted my decision. The school has been so supportive from faculty to staff, and the knowledge I have learnt has been incredibly beneficial.”

Advice for working mothers

Maaike’s first piece of advice is to not let the MBA overwhelm you. She said: “It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but if you have support from family and friends you can easily stick to it.”

But she also says it’s important to give yourself time to complete it – one benefit she praises about Vlerick’s Online MBA as it allows you to take short breaks. She said: “You should use this to your advantage and take time away when it becomes too difficult. You must take breaks to re-energise.”

And finally, Maaike advises prospective students to make use of everything the support staff and business school offers – and to connect with others on the programme in a similar situation. She said: “Lots of people are in a similar boat; discuss this and get tips from each other.”

This article was originally published in March 2021 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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