Life As An MBA Student: 9 Things To Know Before Starting |

Life As An MBA Student: 9 Things To Know Before Starting

By Stephanie L

Updated March 20, 2021 Updated March 20, 2021

Sponsored by Warwick Business School

Whether you’re an international student or home student, have been away from the academic scene for a few years or are jumping from one degree to the next, pursuing an MBA is a huge investment, so you’re going to want to make sure you’re as well prepared as possible.

We spoke to Radko Diev, Brian Steel, Kristen Rossi and Paul Fitzgerald, four full-time MBA students at Warwick Business School and asked them to share with us their key tips and advice when it comes to studying the MBA.

Be organized and plan ahead

The same can be said for any degree, but the MBA even more so thanks to its challenging curriculum.

“Plan whenever you can,” advises Radko.

“Although you’ll be very busy, careful planning will help remove some of the stress you’ll inevitably face.”

While Brian considers self-discipline a useful skill to have. He says: “The more disciplined you are and the more effort you put into it [the MBA], the better your learning experience will be.”

Take the pre-reading seriously

“Make sure you read all of the case studies set, as discussions in class are focused around these for most subjects,” says Paul.

“It’ll give you the best platform to learn with your cohort and classmates. Most of them are incredibly interesting and can set you up nicely to learn for assignments and exams.”

Reach out and don’t be afraid to ask for support

Sometimes learning to become a student again after several years away from academia can be the biggest challenge as opposed to studying the MBA itself.

From student support services, to your professor, class cohort, or your own family and friends, it’s important to remember to ask for advice, guidance and support whenever you feel like you need it.

“Don’t forget to reach out to your new MBA family for support,” says Radko.

“The MBA is a fun and joyful journey but sometimes it’ll be tough, especially if you’re an experienced professional who isn’t used to full-time study.”

The MBA is as much about career planning as it is studying

It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing too much on grades that you forget to consider what steps you’ll need to take to help boost your career prospects when you complete the MBA.

“Take into consideration your previous experience, aspirations, personal values and skills and try to identify an area in which you would like to develop,” recommends Paul.

“By doing so, you’ll be able to make more adequate choices when it comes to elective modules, events, dissertations, workshops and study trips.

“However, it’s also okay if you don’t know straight away! You can explore your options throughout the program and the Warwick Business School CareersPlus team is always there to help.”

Engage with your cohort and get to know them – but remember everyone has a different opinion

“An MBA cohort can be competitive, or it can be cooperative, it’s up to you,” says Kristen.

“My advice is to help each other and create an open and cooperative atmosphere. Everyone will gain more from it and ultimately you get what you give.

“You’ll be in a class of over 100 adult learners. Everyone will have an opinion and like or dislike one thing or another.

“Try to stay objective and remember that often a person’s perception is framed by their past experiences. It may be true for them, but that does not necessarily make it true,” she adds.

Overtime, members of your cohort may also become some of your closest friends – and you’d do well to remember that at the beginning of the degree.

“Try to meet everyone and learn about their journey, interests and hobbies,” suggests Radko.

“Try to see the world through their eyes and slowly but surely, you’ll have friends from all around the world.”

The power of the networking is huge

“Make the most of your first few weeks on the course to get in contact with people in industries you may want to pursue a career in,” says Paul.

“You’ll learn from an early stage how the ‘hidden job market’ is a powerful way of obtaining a job post-MBA.”

Speaking with MBA alumni can also be beneficial in many ways, such as if you have specific questions about the course or want to find out more about general student life at the business school.

“The alumni network at Warwick Business School is huge, and there’s always someone willing to have a chat,” adds Paul.

Make the most of every opportunity

“Don’t underestimate how fast the year will go. Make the most of it and get involved,” advises Kristen, who was recently involved with the GE Healthcare Challenge hosted at Warwick Business School.

“I have no experience at all in healthcare other than the few times I’ve been admitted to hospital, and accepting would force me to change my electives.

“I reminded myself that opportunities like these are why I chose to go back to school, so that I could be stretched and take on opportunities I normally wouldn’t sign myself up for. The next day I accepted the offer and I’ll be forever grateful that I did, as it was a wonderful experience.”

Exploring your business school’s campus can also bring a wide range of opportunities when it comes to networking and exploring, “especially if you’re still unsure about your future career path,” says Radko.

It’s ok to take time away from your studies

“Don’t let the MBA completely take over your life! You’ll have an intense schedule, but it’s important to make time for your family and friends as well as for yourself to recharge,” says Paul.

It’s also good to try and relax before you begin your studies as well, something which Paul highly recommends: “Before you start your MBA, make sure to take plenty of time off.

“I was lucky enough to be able to take about six weeks off before I started. It was hugely beneficial to me so that I could hit the ground running!”

For some, taking six weeks before the start of your MBA may not be a possibility, but even taking some time away from everyday life in preparation can be just as good.

Enjoy the experience

Although the MBA can be rigorous and competitive, it can also be extremely rewarding at the same time. 

“It’s been a wonderful year, and I would like to think I’ve become a little more knowledgeable and even at 34 years of age, more mature.

“I will admit, I never had a clear image in my mind of what the year would be like, but it has surpassed any of my expectations and was full of surprises,” says Kristen.

Trips to The Shard in London are very popular with Full-time MBA students at Warwick Business School – particularly because the school has a base here.

“It’s an incredible location for elective and the many talks throughout the year,” according to Paul.

Lead image credit: Warwick Business School


This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for and (until September 2021), Stephanie created and published a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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