How I Fit an Online MBA Into My Life As a Single Parent

Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) was something Jennifer Lamb had always wanted to do. “It was a personal goal,” she says. “It wasn’t part of my career development plan and it wasn’t for the money.” So, approximately six years ago, Lamb decided to take the leap and begin the MBA program offered through National University. “There are so many options to choose from when looking at where to earn an MBA,” says Lamb. “But, after asking a lot of questions of National — like where their graduates were now working and what their accreditation status was — I decided that it was the right school and the right choice for me.”

Life Happens: Becoming a Single Mom

At the time Lamb began the MBA program at National, she was married, had two small children, and was working full time as a supply chain specialist. However, about halfway into the program, Lamb went through a divorce and found herself living life as a single mom. “I decided to take some time off when that happened,” says Lamb. While that could have easily derailed her dream, it didn’t. In 2017, after a three-year break, she went back and picked up where she had left off.

Before her divorce, Lamb had been taking MBA classes on campus at National University. However, because she needed more flexibility as a single mom, she began taking her courses online when she returned to her studies. “My biggest concern about the online MBA was missing the connection you have with other students when you’re in class together,” explains Lamb. “But, in the online MBA classes at National, professors do try to connect everyone. For example, some put students into small groups of two or three at the beginning of a class and have us answer introductory questions and others have us write a bio before the class starts.”

Finding the Flexibility She Wanted — and the Support She Needed

“The whole idea of taking classes online was new to me,” says Lamb. “It was both scary and exciting at the same time.” However, once she made the decision to finish her MBA online, she found that she enjoyed the flexibility and convenience it offered. “It gives me more time for my family,” explains Lamb. “It doesn’t matter where I am — whether it’s at the soccer field or in the stands during basketball practice or games — I can be logged into class. It’s so much easier than people might think.”

Lamb has also found that she’s able to develop connections with fellow students online. “The online forums are fun,” she says. “It’s interesting to read others’ essays or feedback and then add to the conversation. You get different perspectives.”

Being a student in the online MBA program has created a new connection between Lamb and her children. “I think it inspires them to do their homework,” she says.“‘Mom has to do it — so we can, too.’ It’s fun to sit on the couch and do homework and reading together.”

In addition to working on her classes on soccer fields, in the bleachers, and during evenings at home, Lamb often does her reading during lunch and on weekends.  She works on her homework, class assignments, and projects early in the morning or later in the evenings. “You make time for your kids and work — but you also have to carve out time for school,” she says.

Lamb has found that having a support network in place has been very helpful as she finishes the last few classes of the online MBA program. “My mom and boyfriend have been super supportive of me,” she says. “It’s nice to have someone to talk to when you’re tired and frustrated.” Additionally, she says that her teachers at National University have been very helpful as she’s progressed through the program. “I’ve had the best experiences,” she says. “When I didn’t understand something, [my professors] were great.”

Taking the Lead: Developing the Skills to be a Strong Leader

Lamb’s core area of study in the online MBA program is leadership. “It’s something I do at work,” she says. “It’s hard to be a female leader sometimes — so I’m enjoying learning skills and theories that will help me.”

Lamb, who works full time as a materials manager, takes one month-long class in National’s online MBA program and then takes a month off before starting the next one. “One of the reasons I chose National was because of the month-to-month classes,” explains Lamb. “It’s intense and challenging — but it allows me to focus on one subject and learn it really well.”

“My goal isn’t to get [my MBA] done as soon as possible,” says Lamb. “I want to learn what I’m being taught — and I want to utilize it before I forget it.” By taking a month off between classes, she’s able to apply what’s she’s learning to what she’s doing at work. “What I’m learning is relatable — and I like to identify the different aspects of this knowledge in the real world.”

The Most Important Step is the First One

For other single parents or for those who aren’t sure how they could possibly fit earning an online MBA into their already full schedules, Lamb offers this advice: “You just have to do it. It’s going to be hard and challenging — but you have to take that first step and sign up. As simple and clichéd as it sounds, it’s about taking that leap of faith. It’s like having a baby — you’re not ready, but you do it.”

Lamb had her fair share of fears about going back to get her MBA after having been out of school for years. But, after her first night of class at National, she knew she could do it. “Once you get into it with that first class, you just go to the next and the next,” she says. “School gets easier as you go.”

Scheduled to finish her online MBA in January 2019, Lamb is grateful for what the experience has meant to her. “I’m so proud that I’m doing this — and continuing to do it,” she says. “I’ve learned that if I can do what I’m doing in the online MBA program — then I can do so many other things. And I’ve also learned that giving my all is good enough.”

Lamb’s dream of earning her MBA is coming true. “I love that I’ll have this to show to my kids,” she says.  “And I’ll definitely be walking in my graduation ceremony. This is my moment.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can earn your online Master of Business Administration — regardless of how busy your schedule is, explore the possibilities at National University. Our admission advisors can answer any questions you might have about the program and can guide you through the application process.