When applying to Tuck and during our weekend here for ASW, Zach and I were often told that the first two semesters (Fall A, lasting approximately the 4 weeks of September, followed by Fall B which lasts from October through mid-December) are incredibly intense and busy and overwhelming. As the Partner, I was warned that Zach would be so busy I'd almost never see him. I wasn't quite sure what to expect-- we were coming from a set-up where Zach was working in a different city part-time so I was used to not seeing him four days of every week, but then he was home and fully focused on us during the weekends. I figured school would probably be about the same level of busyness, just distributed differently-- we'd get to actually see him in the evenings some, but give up a lot of our weekend time to homework and class projects.
So, how bad is it really? Is it true I never ever see my husband because he's so swamped with school and recruiting and networking? Well, not really. Yes, he's busy but it's been about what I expected. Our average day has looked like this: I drop Zach off at Tuck around 8am on our way to take our son to his preschool. Zach has classes in the morning, then often does homework or meets with his study group in the afternoon (or attends recruiting events or any other activities going on around campus). He'll come home around 5-5:30pm, help me out with dinner and getting the kids to bed, then once they're down (around 8pm) he'll spend several hours working on homework. On average, he's had about 2-3 nights a week where he'll be busy during our dinner hour so doesn't come home till later. Weekends have been very variable-- some weekends he's very free, others he'll spend several hours each day working on school stuff. Many of his midterms and finals have been 2-4 hour take-home tests that are done over the weekend. He could easily be even more busy-- there is never a shortage of things to do here, and Zach decided to pass up on things like hockey and other social activities in order to spend more time with us. It's a trade-off, but has worked well for us.
Ok so yes, it's been a bit intense. For us, Fall A and the first half of Fall B were a bit more hectic because of all the recruiting events (info sessions and office hours) that Zach attended while trying to narrow down his focus for his future career and, more immediately, his summer internship. But it's definitely been manageable, thanks to the community created among the other partners and families. We also have tried to follow advice given to us at ASW, to make a point of carving out a semi-sacred Family Time each week. For us, that has been the dinner-and-bedtime routine with our children. It doesn't happen every single night, but it does most of the time and that really helps. It's nice that we live close to campus, so it's easy for Zach to come home when he has a break even if it's just for an hour or two. One of the reasons that Tuck appealed to us when applying was the program's reputation for being family friendly and more understanding of the different needs of a student with a family. I have greatly appreciated how understanding Zach's classmates, especially his study group, along with faculty and staff have been about working around our schedule and accommodating him when we've had family emergencies this semester. It makes a difference to feel like your community is working with you and doing what they can to support you as a family.
Fall B ends in less than two weeks. These past few months have been a whirlwind. It's been intense and busy, but also a lot of fun. Here's to a great holiday break, and to see whether things really do calm down after the new year... ; )
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