Returning to school as a working professional can seem daunting. Whether you’ve been out of school for 1 year or 30 years, earning a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree is manageable when you take the necessary steps to set yourself up for success. Part of this process includes researching the different options that are available to you at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Gary W. Rollins College of Business (COB). By taking into consideration your options, lifestyle, and learning style, you can feel confident in furthering your education. Here are some helpful tips to think about when pursuing your MBA degree while working:
Be Mindful and Realistic When Choosing a Program
Students have two different options when pursuing their MBA degree at the Gary W. Rollins College of Business: the Flexible MBA (a campus-based program with some online options) and the 100% Online MBA. Students who choose the Flexible MBA degree program will take coursework during evening hours on weekdays, while students in the 100% Online MBA degree program will complete all coursework in a virtual environment. When choosing from these two options, we encourage students to be mindful and realistic about selecting the program that will work well with their personal and professional lifestyle. For example, some students are more academically successful in a traditional face-to-face classroom, while others thrive in the online environment. Furthermore, some students are working professionals who travel extensively, making the 100% Online MBA degree program the most feasible option, while other students like the networking that naturally happens in a traditional classroom setting. It’s important for students to think about these types of circumstances when selecting a program that will fit best into their day to day lives.
Take Advantage of Resources Available to You
Students in the 100% Online MBA and the Flexible MBA degree programs have an academic advisor who work with them to build their course schedules each semester. It’s very important to take advantage of time with an academic advisor in order to maximize overall success during the MBA program. For example, an academic advisor can assist students who need guidance when determining which courses to take and the manageability of a given course load. The academic advisor can also provide assistance for students choosing elective coursework for the general MBA degree program. While these are just a few examples, having an academic advisor to guide students through their MBA degree program is a huge benefit.
Other resources including a Rollins COB graduate student career coach, networking events, the UTC Library, the UTC Counseling Center, the Writing and Communication Center, and other services will make completing a graduate degree easier and more worthwhile. Making a point to take advantage of these free services will enhance your time in the MBA.
Map a Study Schedule Ahead of Time
Developing strong study habits is essential to one’s success in the MBA program, especially when working a full-time or part-time job. For that reason, we encourage students to set up a study schedule and hold themselves accountable. For students in the Flexible MBA program, this means scheduling additional study time outside of the scheduled class time. For those in the 100% Online MBA program, this means carving out time to absorb the course content (anything traditionally covered in the classroom) in addition to completing assignments and additional studying. To be successful, students should identify gaps in their current schedules and incorporate study time where it fits and makes sense. From there, students may find that they need to make initial adjustments based on when and where they can best focus on the course content. After that, accountability is key to forming strong study habits.
Incorporate Personal Time onto Your Calendar
Personal time and leisurely activities are imperative to a person’s mental health. For students who plan to work full-time while earning an MBA degree, personal time and self-care are a must. Much like study time, scheduling personal time can be achieved when effectively incorporated into your schedule. Because the 100% Online MBA program allows students to access course content at times that work best for them, there is more freedom as to when personal time can occur. Students in the Flexible MBA program will still have several weeknights as well as weekends to integrate quality family and personal time. Work and study are both important, but personal time can help a student to maintain balance while doing both.
At the Gary W. Rollins College of Business, we have seen many working professionals earn their MBA degrees, and you can too! By being mindful and self-aware of your lifestyle and circumstance, you will be able to make good choices and use your time in ways that will maximize your success in the UTC Flexible MBA or the 100% Online MBA programs.