Advice To The Next Generation Of MBAs


The Best Way to Prepare for an MBA Program

It’s been a while.

That’s what many first years think when they return to campus. And it can be a pretty surreal experience. Since college, most students have been immersed in work. They started as gophers, clawing their way from associates and managers. They’ve built portfolios, networks, and reputations. Aside from building influence and goodwill, they’re probably making some real money.

Now, they’re gearing up for an MBA program. And it’s a bit of a culture shock. The biggest change? They’ll be expected to do the heavy lifting…without being paid. Unlike their undergrad years – where they can act as a lone wolf – their participation is essential in group work (and clubs). Most likely, they’re moving to a new town, which means finding new routines and making new figures. And did I mention the curriculum? If incoming students haven’t mastered finance and statistics, they’re in for a long and steep learning curve.

You can almost hear them now: What did I get myself into?

Actually, most MBAs have a strong inkling of what’s to come. So do most applicants. With only a few weeks left until school starts – or first round applications are due – this is a good time to look at practices to help students adapt to the pace and rigor of business school life.

Last week, Eric Lipsky, a columnist for, conducted interviews with admissions officials from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Drexel’s Lebow College of Business, and New York University’s Stern School of Business. Looking for ways to quickly acclimate to student life? Check out this advice:

  • Time Management: You will find through the program that life outside of school still continues, and taking on the added challenges of a MBA program will impede on that. The best quote I heard from one of our former MBA students was “When I was working on school work, it was only about school work. When I was with my wife and family, it was only about them. Going through the program taught me to be 100% focused on one thing at a time, and that made me a better team member to my classmates and a better father and husband to my family.” Whether its family time, personal time, or getting enough sleep, you need to prepare yourself by managing your time effectively.” – David Dams, Drexel University
  • Take Pre-Program Foundational Courses Seriously: Most MBA programs will require or encourage candidates to complete online preparatory classes and/or require the completion of an in person Boot Camp program prior to the start of MBA Orientation. Goizueta offers these Foundational experiences in Math/Statistics, Economics and Financial Accounting. Prospective MBA students should take these courses seriously as they are good ways to re-fresh your skills and they also help you transition back into the academic learning environment.” – Julie Barefoot, Emory University
  • Know Your Best Learning Style and Stress Behaviors: Reflect on your prior academic experiences and consider your best learning style. As you start an MBA program, develop tactics or learning tools that will enable you to keep track of all of your assignments and help you best function on a team. You should also know your stress behaviors and consider ways to avoid situations that add to your stress levels.” – Julie Barefoot, Emory University
  • “Continue to Develop Professionally: Take a look at your resume, make a list of the skills you would like to develop and seek out opportunities providing relevant experience. You should also reconnect with members of your network and talk to them about your future career plans including why you are pursuing the MBA.” – Isser Gallogly, New York University 
  • “Get Up to Speed on Current Events: At Stern, our faculty provide examples from current events along with their real-world perspectives. To prepare for the classroom discussions, you should keep up on daily events and news related to business. You can also subscribe to business magazines and periodicals to keep abreast of current affairs and different industry trends.  – Isser Gallogly, New York University 
  • Save Money: You will always need more money than you expect when you are enrolled in an MBA program. And, you will want to take full advantage of all the MBA study opportunities, such as semester-long study abroad, shorter international study trips during program breaks or case competitions, all which require additional travel funds.”  – Julie Barefoot, Emory University

For additional insights, click on the link below.