Hit The Ground Running in 2018

Discover top tips for getting back to studying after the holiday break

The holiday break is over. You have taken your long winter’s nap. Hopefully you should feel refreshed, recharged and ready to return to business school. But getting back in the swing of things is never easy after you have hit pause for so long.

“Research shows that it takes 21 days to build a new habit, so having a carefree unstructured break can be fun,” says Lynne Sarikas, director of the Graduate Career Center at Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “[But] it can make returning to school in January very challenging.”

QS has asked education experts how to get over the holiday hangover and achieve greatness from the start in the next semester:

 

Get back to school pronto

Some people wait until the last minute to return to campus. If you can get back a day or two ahead of schedule, you’ll have time to decompress and reorient yourself, says Erin Goodnow, co-founder and CEO of Going Ivy. “Get a flight back a day or two before classes start, so you're on campus,” adds Goodnow. “Being in the physical space to study helps your mind get back into study mode.”

 

Meet up with classmates

Call up some of your classmates and grab a coffee or lunch. Plan your discussion ahead of time. “Don't just talk about how the break was, make sure to talk about what classes you’ll take this semester,” suggests Goodnow. “Fire up your brain to signal that it's time to get serious again.” Plan for additional study sessions as classes get underway. Strategize about how you’ll work together in the coming semester. Determine when you’ll be meeting for projects and team building activities, for instance.

 

Look for syllabi

Many professors post assignments and readings on their website. You can easily find them and get a head start on the semester. Pick up the books or print out readings, and get to work. If there are assigned teams for a course, reach out to those in your group. If nothing else, you can figure out what responsibilities and deadlines you will have moving forward.

You should also discover as much as you can about individual professors. Learn about their approach to teaching but also their background and research. You could have a professor who might serve as a mentor, or person with whom you can network.

 

Plan ahead

Indeed, determining how you will be filling your days is key. Lay out your schedule to get a feel for what your new routine will be like, says LaTishia L. Jordan, CEO and director of ​Stepping Stones Tutoring Center in Hermitage, Tennessee. It helps you mentally prepare, but it also aids in avoiding procrastination. When you know what lies ahead, you’re more like to jump to it. Ensure you have clear goals about what you want to achieve during the semester. For example, which events are you planning on attending away from the classroom? Are you giving yourself every opportunity to meet and network with the right people?

 

Focus on the career search

Ideally you spent time sprucing up your resume, networking, and preparing for interviews during the break. But even if you didn’t, you can jumpstart the job hunt in January.

“Think about what experience you hope to gain on an internship and how that will help advance your career,” says Sarikas. “Often it is more important to enhance the key skills that will lead to your dream job than to frustrate yourself shooting for a one that you are not yet qualified for.”

 

Brush up on skills

Employers are always lamenting the skills gap between expectations and satisfaction with new hires. The QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018 reveals that interpersonal relationships, analytical, technical, and leadership skills are lacking in employees, even though that’s what employers need most. Before the hustle and bustle of the new semester overwhelms you, consider getting an edge in the job hunt.

You can practice communication by joining organizations such as Toastmasters or conducting mock interviews. Brush up on analytical and technical skills. Read about the world’s great leaders and how they achieved their success. Consider what leadership roles you might take on campus. Which clubs interest you? Obviously, you’ll want to get started on organizing events and meetings for any of your extracurricular activities in the coming semester, too.

While no one finds it easy to get back to work in the wake of a much needed break, you can ease back into schoolwork. By following the above tips, focusing on what made you successful in 2017, and putting all that good rest you’ve just gotten to good use, you can hit the ground running in 2018. 

Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website

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