Students who are beginning an MBA program are embarking on a new adventure. Not only are they preparing to take on graduate-level coursework that will help them further their careers and allow them to accomplish their professional goals, but they also are often balancing that degree program with their existing responsibilities. Many MBA students are professionals who have full-time jobs, or parents who have young children at home.
Given the unique challenges that they may face, it is important that first year MBA students get the support that they need. At the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, we offer personalized MBA advice and help for our students. We believe that every student can and will be a success when they get the foundational support that they need.
Are you a new MBA student? Then now is the perfect time to check out these 10 Tips for First Year MBA Students:
Become Familiar with Your School
Whether you are taking MBA classes online or you plan to attend in-person classes to earn your graduate degree, it’s important that you are familiar with the school you are attending. Schedule a campus tour in advance in order to learn more about where your classes will be located and where you can go to find extra support. Online students will still want to have an idea of the different departments and buildings that are located on campus, as this will give them an idea of who is available to assist them in their virtual environment. Many universities offer virtual tours on their websites for students who cannot make it to campus.
Take Time to Get to Know Your Professors
Your professors play a pivotal role in your education, and you should make an effort to get to know them better. Every professor has a wealth of educational and professional experience that they can share with you, and many are willing to support their students in whatever way possible. When you take extra time to get to know your professors, you will develop relationships that can last beyond your time in that course. Your professors can help you succeed in the class and also offer you additional guidance as you move forward in your business career.
Review Each Syllabus and Mark Down Important Dates
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the workload of your MBA degree program during the first year. To help you stay organized, you should review every syllabus that you receive at the start of the semester. Mark down the most important dates—such as deadlines for term papers or exam dates—in your planner. When you have these dates noted in advance, you will be able to pace yourself each week and set yourself up for success.
Create a Personal Schedule for Yourself
When most students are enrolled in undergraduate degree programs, their sole focus is their studies. They may have a part-time job or two in order to get by, but they generally arrange everything around their undergraduate course schedule and workload. In an MBA degree program, however, many students are working full-time while attending school. During your first year, you should set a personal schedule for yourself that allocates time for studying around your existing work schedule. Don’t forget to build in some time for relaxation, as you will need some downtime in order to effectively balance your coursework with the rest of your personal and professional responsibilities.
Keep an Open Mind
When you begin your MBA degree program, you will probably have a career goal in mind. While it’s important to be focused on your goals and aspirations, you also should keep an open mind during your first year as an MBA student. Throughout your courses, you will explore various sectors of business, and you may discover a new passion or interest. When you keep an open mind, you give yourself the flexibility and availability to try new things. It’s okay if you stray off course—you may be surprised to find out where your new path will lead you.
Avoid Comparing Your Progress with Others in Your Courses
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. However, it’s important that you avoid comparing what you are doing in a course to what your classmates are doing. In an MBA program, everyone is balancing a variety of responsibilities in their own lives. One student may be apt to finish work quickly, while another is going to take longer to write that lengthy term paper. Instead of asking around as to what your classmates are doing or how their grades have been, focus on creating short-term and long-term goals for yourself that you know are attainable.
Network with Your Classmates
Everyone in an MBA program is looking to further their careers, but each individual student is going to have a diverse range of professional experiences. One of the best ways to take your career to the next level is to build a professional network, and there is so much potential for networking within an MBA program. People of all ages and backgrounds enroll in MBA degree programs, and you may find that your next job opportunity lies with the person who is working with you on a group project in class.
Take Mental Health Breaks and Keep Your Stress at Bay
Self-care is incredibly important, particularly during your first year as an MBA student. One of the keys to success during that first year is to take mental health breaks throughout each day or during each week. Find something that brings you peace of mind and allows you to focus on yourself, such as a yoga session at the park on your lunch break or taking 30 minutes to read a favorite book before you go to bed. Small breaks that allow you to indulge in something you genuinely enjoy will help you feel more motivated and focused when it is time to tackle your coursework.
Contribute Regularly and Get Involved in Your Program
Whether you are in a virtual class with a social media group or you are taking a large lecture on campus, you should make an effort to contribute regularly in every course you take. Participation will allow you to get the most out of your program, and it may lead to other opportunities that allow you to immerse yourself in the MBA community on campus.
Branch Out and Explore New Topics, Ideas and Interests
During the first year of your MBA program, you have a unique opportunity to delve into topics that you may not have considered studying otherwise. By taking time to explore these different ideas and interests, you may discover an unexpected passion or path that you want to take. There are not many moments in life when you can be flexible and agile, so it is important to take advantage of these opportunities to try new things when you can.
Earning an MBA degree is an important milestone. While the first year may be filled with different challenges and unique experiences, when you choose the right school you will receive the support and guidance that you need to be a success. For more tips and MBA advice, contact the University of Tennessee Chattanooga today.