If you are going to business school soon, you are probably taking care of all the big arrangements. You know about tuition fees, visa documents, and class schedules. But are there other, unexpected aspects to consider before the start of your MBA? The short answer is yes.
In this overview, we look at some easy ways to prepare for this exciting new stage. And even if you are still searching for the right programme, you will hopefully come away with useful insights into the MBA experience.
Get to know your class
One of the best ways to ease your transition to business school is by getting ready to meet new people. Your MBA classroom will be full of diverse participants, each with their unique geographic and professional backgrounds. The earlier you start connecting with them, the easier it will be to work on future study projects together.
Speaking of new connections, you may want to start by polishing up your LinkedIn profile. We live in a digital environment and social media is one way to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. So, why not initiate first contact with new classmates via LinkedIn? You can do this before the start of your semester by looking up people who have already added the business school to their profiles. Or, you could just make sure your LinkedIn looks presentable enough so that you are ready to connect when the time comes.
Having a detailed and well-organised online presence may even provide ideas for conversation starters when meeting fellow MBA participants.
One of the ultimate benefits of studying in a group of diverse professionals is the strong network you will have long after graduation. So, start thinking of this aspect of your studies now. Prepare for meaningful networking as soon as you confirm your business school attendance.
Get to know your new home
Many people choose a business school and MBA programme that takes place far from home. Relocating to a new country or even continent is a big change and requires good preparation. This may include more than travel arrangements and the visa application process.
To make yourself feel at home, get to know your new destination in advance. If you have the chance, make a short visit in person. Even if this is not possible, making a list of useful places and institutions is an excellent start. Can you find recommendations for local banks, stores, language centres, or even potential employers?
There are also many fun aspects to this type of research. Looking for interesting restaurants, museums, and local events is a great way to get excited about the move. Jump straight into the new culture and find the common points that will help you belong in your new home.
Take care of family arrangements
Doing an MBA can be especially challenging for people with family responsibilities and children. However, it is certainly not impossible! With a bit of good planning and dedication from family members, going to business school is a truly rewarding experience.
If you haven’t already started discussing different options with your partner or family members, now would be a good time to initiate the conversation. Try to anticipate possible challenges in advance. For example, you will need regular opportunities to study, while also making sure you are actively engaged in family time.
Nick Lupisella, who graduated from Wharton’s MBA Programme for Executives in 2017, has experienced this first-hand. At the time he started business school, he was already a father of one and had another baby on the way.
“The keys to making it work are planning and communication,” Nick highlights. “It’s very important to have your partner on board for this programme as it is a big sacrifice for them too. You need to align expectations so you both understand the time commitment and the reward.”
Get ready to be transparent, supportive, and understanding of your family.
Plan your budget
Going to business school usually requires a significant financial investment. Beyond tuition fees, there will be other costs on top of all the usual monthly expenses. However, they can become more manageable when accompanied by a solid monthly spending plan. Think of possible regular expenses such as travel and entertainment. If you move to another city or country for your MBA, how often will you be travelling back home?
One option would be to set a strict monthly budget and avoid stretching your expenses above it. In addition, professionals who still have some time before starting their MBA would be wise to continue saving up. Every extra dollar saved up will come in handy.
A lot of the preparations for going to business school may seem stressful now. But when you approach them early on and with an open mind, you will feel much more eager to jump into your MBA journey.