4 Things That Make the MBA Student Experience Different From the Rest | TopMBA.com

4 Things That Make the MBA Student Experience Different From the Rest

By Helen Vaudrey

Updated March 14, 2021 Updated March 14, 2021

For many students, university passes by in a haze of blurry nights and afternoons spent nursing sore heads on top of a textbook during lectures – mornings are a thing of myth that have been seen by few.

For MBA study however, this is not the case. Alcohol is swapped with coffee, afternoons are spent working with cohorts or on work experience placements, and mornings can become one of the most-valued parts of the day to complete tasks leftover from the night before.

MBA student socializing

MBA student socializing is an entirely different game for MBA and EMBA students. Instead of donning revealing nurse and doctors’ outfits and smashing back a pint full of tequila, MBA students are far more likely to be found suited and booted at a wine bar or café with other members of their cohort.

Maintaining a professional appearance is an important part of MBA life. Students are older than undergraduates and need to commit more time to their studies. Emphasis is placed very much on networking around business questions and rather less on playing beer pong.

That’s not to say you can’t get involved with the other aspects of student life if you have the time for it. If you’re partial to slipping into an Incredible Hulk costume and gallivanting around the town with your fellow Avengers in tow then perhaps you could join one of the numerous clubs and societies offered by business schools. Some will be directly related to MBA topics (entrepreneurship or consulting clubs are a fairly common example, or clubs for specific demographics), others will around things like sports or culture, and others will be more leftfield (craft beer societies seem to be fairly common…).

MBA program workload

Long gone are the days when perusing Facebook and playing Angry Birds on your phone were viable forms of study, while listening vaguely to your lecturer. MBA workloads are typically in-depth and fast paced.

MBA programs generally consist of core modules, electives and work experience projects. Taking into account the high cost of the average MBA program, it’s no wonder that MBA students don’t spend many evenings lounging in front of the TV eating takeout – there’s coursework to be done.

It’s also important to attend a variety of business conferences, lectures and discussions while studying. The MBA student experience is designed to be immersive and students are encouraged to throw themselves into the world of business.

Multicultural learning

For undergraduate students, diversity means going to a Chinese restaurant on their lunch breaks to dig into sweet and sour chicken. For MBA students, this is certainly not the case.

In an increasingly globalized world, businesses are required to form relationships with companies from across the globe to be competitive. As MBA study is intended to prepare you fully for the business world, the classroom is the place that this process starts.

Cohorts at top business schools typically have a high intake of overseas students from a multitude of backgrounds so that students can learn from each other and improve on their communication skills. MBA students are also diverse in relation to their different career backgrounds and undergraduate degrees.

In one cohort you could be working with people ranging from veterinary nurses to ex-army officers – all of whom have the potential to bring exciting new approaches to MBA study.

Teaching methods

The way in which you study in an MBA program is different to other degrees. Lessons are usually formulated around case studies and consulting work in which you will have the opportunity to work with companies in the local area or further afield.

Two-year programs tend to offer a summer internship in conjunction with the full-time degree in order to provide students with an extra boost to their résumé. Students have the advantage of tailoring their MBA degree using electives, and can then implement their skills while on placement at a relevant company – a good opportunity for career changers to work out whether they have made the right choice.

Emphasis is also placed on team projects and experiential learning; teamwork is a vital element to the degree, with many MBA programs putting students in groups that stay together for a semester, a year or even the whole program. Either way, all classes are taught within the same cohort so it is likely that students will all be working together on multiple projects throughout the year. This is ideal for forming strong bonds with classmates that can later be taken into professional life. 

This article was originally published in June 2015 . It was last updated in March 2021

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