Commencement Spotlight: Bailey Donovan Allen, Texas MBA at Houston
Bailey Donovan Allen started the Texas MBA at Houston program one year before her husband Ryan enrolled in Rice University's MBA program. She shared what it’s like to live in a house divided—at least when it comes to who is teaching your marketing class—and how they survived two spouses simultaneously attending graduate school and working full-time.
Did you and your husband intentionally choose different schools, or is that just the way it worked out?
We intentionally chose different schools; we are way too competitive to attend the same program. Even though I started a year before him, we knew that if we had the same professors and the same classes, we would be competing with each other. Going to different schools allowed us to get a similar education but didn’t make us feel like we were comparing apples to apples.
How did having both of you in graduate school together impact your marriage and your daily lives?
It’s difficult, but it’s definitely doable. I actually started my program three weeks after we got married, so we never really had a frame of reference for married life that hasn’t included school. The hardest part for us was establishing a routine that worked the first few months we were both in school. I had class every other weekend, and he had class Monday and Wednesday night. People thought we were crazy to schedule it like that, but we’ve actually found it works pretty well. I scheduled most of my school work to be done on the nights that he was in class, so that the nights we both had off we could spend together.
Were you able to use each other as resources for things like studying and advice?
A little bit, but probably no more than any spouse would support the other in a new venture. The biggest benefit for us is the fact that we actually can understand what the other person is feeling and the demands on their time. For instance, I can’t get mad when he’s studying for finals and has little time for me because I realize I did the same thing when I had finals.
What advice would you give to other couples considering being in graduate school at the same time?
Set a schedule. We clearly identified nights that are designated for us to spend together, and it has really reduced the level of stress on our marriage. Also, realize that, yes it’s only two years, but it’s still two years. You can’t assume that what worked in your relationship before graduate school will continue to work once it begins. Talk to each other, and make sure you find a system that works for both of you. We also took one trip out of the city each quarter, to give ourselves a break. And we hired a housekeeper.
Which side of the stadium will you sit on when UT plays Rice in football?
I would imagine we’d trade off on which team was the home team.
What are you most looking forward to about both of you being finished with school?
Immediately after, we are heading on vacation. I’m looking forward to not having every aspect of my life being scheduled, and being able to be there for friends and family more.
Allen, who also has a B.S. in chemical engineering, works for oil and gas services company Baker Hughes in Houston, in a business development role. She decided to pursue an MBA after realizing that she was more interested in the financial, managerial and problem-solving aspects of driving a business than the purely technical side.