Student Experience: Why I Chose the Midland MBA

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Every day for the last seven months, my five-year-old daughter has asked me the same question as I pick her up from daycare: “Are you a master yet?” Shortly thereafter, her not-quite-three-year-old brother asks the same question, but with not quite as crisp diction.

This is one of my favorite conversations to have with them. My parents made sure that I understood the power of education from the time I was very young, and being able to do the same for my children is incredibly fulfilling. Sometimes that conversation takes place in the car on the way from my daughter’s school. Sometimes it takes place around the kitchen table. Sometimes it’s a shared experience instead of a conversation. She and I will sit and do our homework together, my nose buried in my Managerial Economics or Financial Accounting textbook, hers in her matching worksheet.

It was the homework that worried me most about this term. During my first and second terms, I only took one class. This term was my first with two, and doubling my classes and my homework doubled my time commitment. That meant less time with the kids, which was my biggest concern starting the program in the first place.

When I was considering my MBA, it had finally boiled down to a simple question: Do I keep the time I have with my kids now or do I sacrifice a few hours every few weeks over the next two years to provide them with better lives?

The choice I made is pretty obvious, but I didn’t come to it easily. As anyone who has children can attest to, every moment you spend away from them is a moment that they could do something singularly wonderful, terrible, or bizarre, and each of those moments is so incredibly precious. The kids are only kids once, after all.

I made my decision one night as I was sitting on the couch watching Up for the umpteenth time, my daughter under one arm and my son under the other. It was one of those oddly simple moments, where all three of us were perfectly content. Neither of those two kids have anything to worry about in their lives. It’s my job to make sure that that stays true.

With the MBA program, I’ve found a way to make that true twice. First, I’ll be able to provide more of the life that I want for my kids. A house, good schooling, trips to Disney World, whatever it is that they want.

Second, I’m showing them the value of work. I would argue that this is far more important than any tangible results I can pass to them. My father shod horses my entire childhood and watching the work he put in day after day after day taught me more than anything about the value of working hard, no matter the hours.

Schoolwork is hardly twelve hour days in a barn, but my kids don’t see the work I put in during the day. My dad came home exhausted and dirty; I come home tired but wearing a tie. My kids now see me actually doing my homework. They see me talking with my teammates. They see me doing the work that it takes to advance in my career.

I chose to pursue my MBA because teaching my kids the value of work and the importance of creating the life you want is far more important than any other lesson I can teach them. The time away is hard, but it’s only a few hours every few weeks. The values that I try to live out for them through these hours will last far longer.

Six more terms until I can say, “Yes, Daddy’s a master now.”

Jack O’Connell

Midland MBA, Class of 2017

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