My partner is going to b-school. How do I survive?

By: Emily Hampton
Photo of a group at the ice rink
While it isn’t safe to skate on the lake, we definitely took the time to ice skate at Cass Park with our JV family.

By Emily Hampton, Joint Ventures Member

The process of applying to a top business school is a complicated and stressful experience. Filling out application after application and writing essay after essay—it takes commitment. But the commitment doesn’t stop there: a Two-Year MBA program is a full-time job. Between classes, social events, networking, and recruiting, MBA students keep very busy. So where does that leave us? The moms. The dads. The husbands. The wives. The boyfriends and girlfriends. The kids. And yes, of course, the dogs! How do we survive when our partner is completing their MBA? For me, it was three things: getting connected, making friends, and remembering this is temporary.

Make connections with other partners

The first semester of business school is unlike any other time in your life. Students will be busy from dawn until dawn. Yeah, you read that right… b-school gets downright busy. Some days you may only see your student as they are dragging themselves to bed after an insane day of school and group meetings. That’s why getting connected is so important for partners. Many MBA programs have a club for partners. At Johnson, we call it Joint Ventures, or JV for short. JV hosts events for partners throughout the semester, aligning dinners and socials with the Johnson class calendar so we ensure that no one has to be sitting at home while their student is in a three-hour exam. JV also hosts play groups for Johnson Juniors, coffee chats, a book club, and encourages people to take advantage of local festivals. Needless to say, if I’m having cabin fever, I know I can reach out to my fellow JV-ers and find something fun to do.

Photo of a group of students after a workout at spin class

Make new friends

Moving to a new place (or visiting every few weekends if you’re a commuting partner) definitely has its challenges. Aside from finding your favorite grocery store or a new burger joint, often times people are going to b-school without knowing anyone beforehand. It’s even harder for partners, especially if you are working remotely or are staying at home. So how can you start making that network of new friends from the get-go? Get involved! Join a club or two. Volunteer in the community. Invite your student’s classmates over for brunch. Host a game night. Get out and about. Attend the social events. That way when your student is involved in recruiting or other extracurricular activities, you feel that you have a tight-knit friend group to go grab a drink with.

Spending a snowy day walking dogs at the animal shelter as an SPCA volunteer before they find fur-ever homes.
Photo of Emily and three other women dressed in gala attire
Attending the Park Fellowship gala and hanging out with some of my great friends, all Donnie’s fellow first years.

Remember this is temporary

Lastly, don’t let this time go by without taking advantage of this unique opportunity. I know that sounds so cliché, but when it’s all said and done, this experience lasts ONLY two years. And it goes by so quickly. There are days that being a partner to a full-time student is difficult, but find that silver lining because you’ll miss this time when it’s finished. So, take the time to explore the new city you live in. Try out another restaurant. Plan a weekend getaway. Step back and take a nice deep breath; because before you know it, you’ll be back on the road to a new adventure.

Photo of Emily at the clay studio holding up a project
Experiencing the art of wheel throwing at a local pottery studio, Clay School of Ithaca.
Taking a Saturday break with Donnie to go hiking and check out the gorge at Robert Treman State Park, just on the edge of Ithaca.
Learn more about Johnson's Joint Ventures club for partners and families


  1. I enjoyed your article Emily! Your suggestions stand true for those of us on the opposite end of the work force. I find it boring at times. I need to follow some of your advice! Have fun on your adventures where every they lead you.

  2. Hi! I’m from Brazil and my husband is studying in Cornell. He is doing the two-year MBA program and I’m going to live in Ithaca with him in August. I would like to know how it works to participate in this group! Thank you!

  3. Hi there! You can learn more about Joint Ventures here: The group has published a lot of facts about Ithaca/Johnson and you can connect with current members for more information.

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