If there was one thing that I took away from my summer internship, during which time I worked with a group of high caliber MBA ex-consultants, it was that we should be in no rush to leave business school. Armed with hindsight, they reminded me that the working world will be waiting patiently for you for the rest of your life, but your MBA life, that will fly by in the blink of an eye.. The student handbook states that you have 5 years (20 quarters) to complete your MBA. Yet common practice is to finish the MBA in a mere 21 months. Which brings me to the little utilized option of deceleration.
Before delving too deeply into the how it works, there are a few limitations. Deceleration is not an option if you are not a US citizen and there are certain minimum class requirements if you are receiving financial aid; however, from the school’s perspective, as long as you are enrolled in one class, in the words of one academic adviser you get “all of the same privileges as” the rest of the full-time students. So all that you need to do is reduce your course load to get started.
The group that most often takes advantage of deceleration is those that are starting their own businesses. Recently graduated 3rd year David London described deceleration “as the best choice that I made at business school, I got to spend time working on my start-up, which eventually failed, while then having the space to recruit for a job full time this last fall” The downside he noted “is that you do not get to graduate with your class, so you kind of feel left out.” He also noted that even though “you do not know as many people on campus it does not matter that much because a lot of your classmates stay in Chicago so a strong social circle still exists.” In a normal year, 5 to 7 students decelerate. While typically the reason is related to entrepreneurship or a personal issue, there have been a handful of graduates over the years who just wanted the extra time in business school.
There are a few gray areas with recruiting. As a full-time student, if you go through on-campus recruiting and receive a full-time job offer then are you are not eligible to go through on-campus recruiting again. Career services will only relax that requirement in ‘extenuating circumstances.’ Though you still have access to off-campus GTS job postings.
When going through recruitment, worrying about student loan debt, and figuring out how to optimize your time in business school be sure to keep your options open and consider deceleration. Remember, time is on your side.
Reid Tileston is a second year at Chicago Booth