Advancing your business career can lead to new opportunities and challenges, such as taking on a leadership role. Having a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a good way to work toward career advancement. While MBA programs can be difficult, the effort is well worth it. How long can you expect to be in school for this degree? Earning an MBA while working might take a bit longer to do, but you can look for programs that offer an accelerated path. For example, a part-time MBA program might only take 24 months to complete. A full-time MBA program typically takes a shorter amount of time, perhaps only 18 months, but isn’t always a realistic option for those who are working full time.
Choose an MBA Program That Works Best for You
When you explore options for MBA programs, look for one that fits your situation. An MBA for working professionals could potentially be done as either a full-time or part-time program. You also have the option to choose between MBA programs that are online, on-campus, or a mix of both. Your work situation and other factors, such as any personal or family responsibilities you have, can help you determine which type of MBA program is best for you.
Full-Time vs Part-Time MBA
Full-time MBA programs might be an option if you work part-time or if you have a flexible work schedule. You might also consider a full-time MBA program if you are able to cut back on your full-time work hours while you’re in school. A full-time MBA program can be done in a shorter timeframe, but keep in mind that you will also be handling more schoolwork at once, including assignments and tests.
Part-time MBA programs might be the right option if you are a full-time worker, especially if you don’t plan on making any changes to your work schedule or the number of hours you work. With a part-time program, your courses and schoolwork are spread out over a longer period of time and your classes may take place in the evening, allowing you to continue working while studying and completing schoolwork without feeling overburdened.
Online MBA vs. Hybrid/Flexible MBA vs. On-Campus MBA
An online MBA program is fully online, which means you never have to travel to and from school to attend classes. All of your courses, assignments, and exams are done online rather than in person. Online MBA programs typically provide ways for students to communicate and interact with each-other and instructors.
An on-campus MBA program has all classes held in person. With this kind of program, you would need to make sure you’re able to attend classes, hand in assignments, and take exams and tests on campus.
A hybrid or flexible MBA program includes both on-campus and online instruction. You might be expected to attend some classes in person, but the rest of your courses and schoolwork will be online. This type of program might work best if you want the benefits of in-person instruction with the flexibility of online coursework.
Whether you go 100% online, 100% on campus, or a blend of both, here are 10 tips that can help you be successful in your MBA studies:
1. Prioritize Organization and Time Management
When you plan on working and earning an MBA, being organized, and managing your time is essential. You’ll need to keep track of MBA assignment and project due dates, as well as the dates of tests and exams. This can become complicated when you’re also juggling your regular workload, especially if you have a hectic job. Before you start your MBA program, focus on your organizational and time management skills, so you’ll be all set once school starts.
2. Get Organized
Take steps to organize your school supplies and other materials, whether they’re physical or digital. Create file folders that are clearly labeled for each class on your computer or laptop, and store notebooks and other physical supplies neatly on a desk or in another area where you plan on studying and working on school assignments at home. Staying organized makes it much easier and faster to access information or supplies you need for school.
3. Study Smarter, Not Harder
You don’t have to spend a lot of time poring over notes and lessons. Trying to do so can make it harder for you to remember information and fully understand what you’re learning. Instead, focus on finding ways to study more efficiently. This might involve having your notes and other school materials handy, so you can study or work on assignments when you have some free time, such as during your lunch break. Finding more efficient ways to study can help you learn material and prepare for tests better.
4. Use Free Apps to Help You
Download free apps on your smartphone or tablet to help you stay organized and manage your time. These kinds of apps provide convenient and simple ways to keep track of deadlines and other important dates or keep notes and other material organized. You can also use apps to create to-do lists for school and work as well as for your personal life. Having these apps on your smartphone or tablet means you can access them anytime you need to check on upcoming due dates or look up notes, whether you’re at work, home, or on the go.
5. Take Advantage of Student Services and Networking Opportunities
Many schools offer student services that provide practical help for MBA students, such as services that help you improve your studying habits or counseling for emotional support. You should also explore networking opportunities that your school provides, such as conferences or workshops. These opportunities can help you meet professionals in your industry who can give you advice on advancing your career. You might even meet professionals who offer opportunities for you to take on a leadership position.
6. Be Open with Your Employer
When you choose to go to school for an MBA, make sure you let your employer know ahead of time. Having this discussion before starting school is a considerate move to make with your employer. You’ll also be able to ask about any opportunities your employer offers for those earning an MBA. For example, some employers help cover the cost of tuition or provide tuition reimbursement since MBA students learn valuable business and leadership skills that can benefit the company. You can also discuss any changes or adjustments to your schedule that you might want to make while you’re in school.
7. Create a Support System and Reset Expectations with Friends and Family
MBA programs can be challenging, especially when you’re working, so it’s important to have a support system in place. Talk to friends and family about going back to school and juggling your schoolwork with the workload at your job. Your loved ones might be able to help you out with handling responsibilities at home, so you can focus on school more or take some time to relax. They can also provide you with emotional support when you’re feeling stressed from school, work, or both.
8. Be Realistic
Don’t put yourself in a position where you won’t be able to keep up with schoolwork or where your job performance suffers. It’s also important to consider your other responsibilities, such as family responsibilities. Be realistic about how much you can handle at school, at work, and in your personal life. You might need to make adjustments in some areas of your life or choose a part-time MBA program instead of a full-time MBA program so that you won’t be stuck with more than you can handle.
9. Take Care of Yourself
No matter how busy you end up being with school and work, you’ll need to take care of yourself. This helps ensure that you’ll have the energy needed for your job and MBA program. You’ll also find it easier to focus and feel your best, which can help you handle stress better. Taking care of yourself includes eating healthy, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, and making sleep a priority. Self-care also involves giving yourself time to unwind and focus on something you enjoy, such as reading a book or spending quality time with friends and family.
10. Visualize Your Future Achievement Often
You might go through tough times when you’re earning an MBA while working, such as when you have an exam coming up or a major project to do. When you find yourself feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, think about why you chose to earn an MBA in the first place. Visualize being a leader or manager in your company or even starting your own business. Being able to see yourself achieving your goals with your MBA can help you stay motivated during your degree program.
As you explore your options for earning an MBA while working, make sure you choose a school that offers a high-quality education. The Gary W. Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offers MBA programs that provide an outstanding education. Our program choices include an Online MBA program and a hybrid Flexible MBA program. Please contact us to learn more about our MBA programs and admissions process.