Dargan Rain learned her husband Rob had been accepted to Harvard Business School before he did. Rob, who was serving in Afghanistan at the time, didn't have computer access, so he couldn't check the Harvard admissions site. He had completed his application in record time before deploying and interviewed with Harvard via satellite phone from a military base.
"Having been separated for 14 out of the last 24 months, the idea of business school was dreamy for me," Dargan says. "My husband would be stateside; he would have a 'normal' schedule; and we would start our first-ever year lease on an apartment. These comforts were something we didn't have before."
While most M.B.A. applicants don't interview remotely from military bases in the Middle East, one aspect of Dargan's experience is the norm at business schools across the country. At Harvard—where Rob is currently finishing his first year—Dargan was pleasantly surprised by the effort the school made to include M.B.A. students' partners and spouses in clubs, off-campus activities, and speaking engagements. "I have felt just as much a part of the HBS community as my husband," she says.
Harvard isn't the only school to have a Partners' Club. At Columbia Business School, the partner group is called Columbia Better Halves, and the website of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management states that nearly 40 percent of its students are accompanied by a spouse or a partner.
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Groups for spouses also exist at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management, Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School, and Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management.
The M.B.A. Spouse Association at Brigham Young University—Provo's Marriott School of Management makes the claim on its website that BYU offers "the 'most family-friendly' M.B.A. program in the nation." Rebecca Walsman, president of the association, defends that claim by saying that the MBASA provides "almost daily opportunities" for M.B.A. students' spouses to make friends and attend free evening classes and activities.
"I believe this program and spouse association is one of a kind in the country at this time," says Walsman, whose husband is an M.B.A. student. "I personally believe there is no better place for a student who has a family to obtain their M.B.A."