MBA Primer ~ Part II: Preparation & Intangibles

Maybe you pondered pursuing an MBA in the back of your mind for a couple of years. You finally devoted time to preparing for and taking the GMAT, scored well and gained acceptance into a program. Congratulations and good luck with everything for the next two years as you strive to maintain some balance in work, life and school.

Below are several points to consider as you line up the logistics in your life and mentally prepare for the weekly rigors of lectures, discussions, pouring through many case studies and trying to achieve efficiency in group projects:

  • If you are under 30, do the full-time program. It probably goes without saying, but it is better socially, there will be more engagement with faculty and staff and you will garner more recruitment and higher salary opportunities with large companies if that is what you are seeking.
  • If you have to work full time (as I did), the two nights a week with Saturday electives is the only route to go. I am not a fan of online programs, but we had a handful of modules and quizzes that supplemented some classes and they worked out find on the university dashboard system.
  • If you have little financial, accounting or statistical background from your undergraduate studies and/or work experience, you may want to invest in a prep course at a community college to help lay the foundation. These were the tough ones.
  • Invest in a financial calculator (or app on your smart phone; I think you’ll prefer the traditional device for word problems and exams).
  • Brush up on or take an Excel course if that is not one of the everyday reliable tools in your top drawer. It will help greatly with your problem set efficiencies with limited homework time and can make you the leader in some group projects.
  • Read the New York Times and/or Wall Street Journal on the day of any classes at the minimum; try to browse daily or online all the time if you can or you so desire.
  • Maximize any complimentary access your school may provide to national business publications (i.e. Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc.) and local periodicals (Buffalo Business First, Buffalo Business, BNSME Executive News).
  • Prepare to spend Friday nights reading case studies and writing for Saturday electives. Your happy hour quota and social activities will take a hit for a while. Just accept that and use the “I’m in grad school” as your getaway card to the fullest.
  • Plan on extra reading, editing and/or studying during your lunch hours whenever feasible.
  • Try to find a good group in an early class with different backgrounds and work experiences that will provide for great complimentary dynamics and productivity. Consider trying to keep it together for later classes. While it is advantageous to move around and work with different people, and some professors will mix it up for good reason, it also helps expedite the process and divide-and-conquer nature of activities that may become necessary with time constraints.
  • Don’t worry about bombing a quiz early on, it happens to many; just stay positive, participate often and have faith in the prospects of grade-curving and “lowest drop” options and finish each semester stronger that you started.

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