Heading off to uni is tough for anyone, but it can be more difficult if you’ve had some time away from formal education. If you’ve spent a few years (or decades) climbing the corporate ladder, stepping back into a lecture theatre and completing assessments can feel very foreign. The good news? There are a few things you can do to ease the transition.
Get (and stay) organised
When you begin your MBA, you will probably need to manage a range of competing priorities. This may include any combination of work commitments, family and other relationships, and your health and wellbeing. There’s no perfect solution to keep everything balanced and in check, but organisation — the golden rule handed down to students on day one — will play an important part in ensuring your study success (and sanity). Your calendar will become your best friend as you navigate deadlines, and setting aside specific study sessions will ensure that neither work nor study commitments are neglected during busy periods.
As institutions develop their course menus, flexibility is becoming a major consideration — particularly in management education, where the expectation is that many (if not most) students will be working full time. This might mean taking advantage of a part-time program, online and distance education or campuses and study centres close to work. Some providers offer trimester calendars that allow you to condense your learning into three study periods, which can be a great way to cut down your study time. Also remember to explore flexible working options with your employer. This might mean leaving the office early to attend lectures, receiving approval to head overseas on study tours and taking leave days in peak assessment periods.
Set realistic expectations
MBAs are incredibly demanding and challenging, so you can’t expect everything to be a breeze — no matter your drive or level of commitment. For many students, particularly those with solid industry and management experience, receiving marks outside the top percentiles can be a shock. Try to find a middle ground and set realistic goals, aiming high but recognising that it may take a little while to find your feet. If you’re not getting the results you want, seeking support from your lecturer, tutor or other support officers can be very valuable. There’s more on that below.
Use your institution’s support services
Don’t neglect support services — there’s plenty of help on offer and it’s up to you to speak up when you need assistance. You can expect to find everything from academic and library workshops and counselling to on-site child care and career advisers. If you’re not completely buried under work and study commitments, also consider the event calendar and opportunities to get involved on campus. While you might not have the time to join sports teams or culinary appreciation societies, you could mentor business and management undergraduates or attend talks and seminars organised by your faculty.