How to Prepare for Your MBA – 10 Expert Tips

Now that you've gotten into business school, here are some steps you can take to be as prepared as possible for success during the program, and beyond.

Posted April 12, 2024

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Pursuing an MBA is a life-changing, difficult, and rewarding experience. Students will learn business, leadership, and management skills; grow their network; and be exposed to new sectors and career opportunities. So, how should admitted students prepare for these changes in order to put themselves in the best place to succeed?

These are the top 10 ways to prepare for your MBA:

1. Prepare Mentally 2. Practice Good Time Management 3. Dig into the Literature 4. Attend Orientation and Meet-and-Greets 5. Talk to Students and Alumni 6. Maintain and Build your Network 7. Brush Up On Quantitative Skills 8. Pick a Concentration 9. Prepare For Recruiting 10. Get Comfortable

1. Start preparing mentally

Business schools provide a rigorous and intellectually challenging curriculum as well as an important social aspect. It will require hard work and balancing, especially for students with families. To make sure that you are up for the academic and social demands of business school, get plenty of rest before starting your program.

2. Get good at time management

One of the most important skills you can learn is effective time management. As a successful professional, this might seem like a no-brainer, but the intensity of an MBA workload will be very difficult without efficient planning. Getting into good time management habits like making a daily schedule and using a planner will benefit you throughout your MBA and after.

3. Dig into the literature

During the first year of an MBA, students read hundreds of pages a week to prepare for class discussions so it’s a good idea to start strengthening that muscle now. Also, there are many books available on core business principles and other topics that can help students succeed throughout their MBA and beyond. Business Insider published its 17 top recommendations for MBA students. See their list here.

4. Attend orientation and any meet-and-greets

One benefit of an MBA is the community that the program and school provide. As an incoming student, it’s important and beneficial to attend any social mixes or orientations. Many schools offer a welcome weekend and other pre-term events that give their students an opportunity to connect with future cohorts. Also, by spending time on campus, matriculated individuals will be able to familiarize themselves with the resources available to them.

5. Talk to other students and alumni

All throughout the MBA application process, learning from those who have gone through the experience can be incredibly rewarding. Both current and former MBA students can provide valuable insights on what they wished they had known before pursuing their degree and offer tips and tricks for success.

6. Build your network

Through social media channels for admitted students and pre-term events, you’ll get the chance to connect with future classmates and expand your network. Also, maintaining your network from a previous work experience or degree can provide future job opportunities or people who can offer advice and insight on your MBA journey.

7. Brush up on your quantitative skills

Many first-year MBA students lack or struggle with quantitative skills. Because of this, a lot of top MBA programs offer refresher math camps for accepted students during the summer. You can also review the course syllabus online and purchase textbooks in advance. Many students, even those with a finance background, know that these additional learning opportunities provide valuable time to network and bond with their future classmates before the start of classes and recruiting activities.

8. Pick a concentration

There are a lot of business schools that are known for their specific strengths, such as entrepreneurship, marketing, or finance. Many programs also offer the chance for students to specialize in a specific concentration. It’s important to think through what concentration you might pursue while factoring in your goals and passions. Having some idea will help you choose your electives, take advantage of on-campus recruiter events, find pertinent internships, and join clubs.

9. Prepare for recruiting

During the summer before enrollment, some students make a list of companies they’d be interested in working for that actively recruit on campus. You can research these companies and the contacts at them for informational interviews, to build your network, or leave the door open for future employment. Adjust your resume and review your LinkedIn and other social media accounts to be fully prepared.

10. Get comfortable

Since you will soon be spending a lot of time on campus, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Take a tour and see the location of your lectures, libraries, and career centers. Also, check out potential neighborhoods and do a trial test drive to campus. Take care of all housekeeping items so that when you get to campus, you can fully focus on the academic and social experience. Work out your budget, set up insurance, and join a gym!

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