For busy part-time students who want to continue their careers, a long commute can at first sound lethal to obtaining an MBA. But as many students of the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program know, commuting doesn’t have to add stress, and in fact, can even be beneficial.
“Commuting does take some advance planning and requires an early-morning start, but once I reach the Berkeley campus, the energy of the professors and the class really gets me going,” says Beena More, an engineer for Qualcomm who travels to Berkeley-Haas every week from San Diego.
More is interested in educational technology and was initially attracted to Haas due to its strong connections to the tech community. She has not been disappointed, and has also found additional connections at the airport, where she often meets three other students traveling from San Diego.
“It’s one thing to get to know people in class, but another when you form a really good bond during a commute. We formed a study group, and sometimes meet one to two days before class to go over assignments. This has definitely allowed me to deepen my friendships at Haas.”
Doug Norton, Senior Manager of Business Operations for Santa Clara-based EMC, is also furthering friendships during his commute from the San Francisco Peninsula. “There are five others on my carpool list and it’s fun and interesting getting to know people,” he says.
Norton travels frequently, so prefers the weekend option in the Evening & Weekend MBA program, attending classes on Saturdays. He says this choice comes with a shorter commute and a great social network of its own—many students stay after class for dinner and drinks.
Beyond the social benefits of commuting, both Norton and More find the advantages of Haas’ curriculum and diversity far outweigh the time commitment of traveling.
“Haas is giving me access to people from so many different backgrounds,” says More. “Classroom discussions are filled with the perspectives of people from startups, big companies, and many different business sectors. I’m learning there are opportunities I didn’t even know existed before.”
Norton considered other Bay Area part-time MBA programs, some with easier commutes, but still preferred the Berkeley MBA.
“Haas had the strongest program available. Evening and weekend MBA students get the same kind of curriculum and overall experience that full-time students receive: the professors are impressive, there is a great selection of electives, and I can participate in campus clubs, all while maintaining the career path I’m on. Driving an hour each way on Saturday was a very easy decision to make.”
Want to know what the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA experience is like for students who commute to the program? Check out our Tips & Tricks, and hear Thulasi Narayan, a senior consultant with Paladino and Company, talk about why she makes the commute from Seattle.