[Read about how to manage your family and still study.]
Joseph Ogden, an assistant dean at the Marriott School, says it's important for business schools to recognize that their requirements that students have significant work experience means that many applicants will also be married or have families.
"It's pretty disruptive to uproot your family and move back to a relatively small town and go through an intense schooling program when you're used to a different lifestyle working in the professional field," he says. "[Given] the mechanics of having a large percentage of our students be married, the spouse association really helps to mitigate that impact by creating an environment and a place where spouses can get together and talk about the things they're experiencing."
The association also helps spouses share baby-sitting duties, collaborate on community service, and learn about what their students are going through in their academic programs, Ogden says.
Beth Campbell, a member of the board of the Darden Partners Association at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business, says her husband's school not only involves partners in social activities and clubs, but also in academic events. And, she says, the presence of the association figured into her husband's admissions decisions.
"Of course, I only have my own experience to draw from, but I think what a school does for partners during the application process is likely indicative of what's to come," she says. "For my husband and [me], it was reassuring to see that partners had an organization. We found the place we rent through the DPA, and I began my job search using their resources.
Rachel D'Eredita, communication chair of the Fuqua Partners group at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, says applicants planning on attending business school with a partner should consider whether the school has a partner group.
"When we first moved here, I went from seeing my husband regularly to not seeing him at all—really, not at all," she says. "That can create a huge strain on even the best relationship. Having a partner's program kept me busy while my student was unavailable and provided a lot of comfort early on."
D'Eredita adds, "It's obviously not the No. 1 reason for coming to a school, but it's certainly in the top 10."
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