Once an applicant is accepted into an MBA school, his or her life changes forever. An MBA student is on the way to an exciting educational experience followed by a career that is likely to be lucrative and challenging. What is it like to be enrolled in an MBA program? What will the student’s next 14 months to three years be like? Will it be all study and work?
Full-time students can expect a fairly full class load their first term as they start out with core classes, usually five a semester. In fact, five courses per term is the standard during the entire life of a program. Courses usually include several hours of lecture per week accompanied by discussion of case studies. Reading material will be extensive. In addition, students will be assigned projects that require work outside of class. The later terms will involve elective classes that allow students to shape their program to their specific needs. Students with jobs or other commitments may find little time left to do anything else. They even may need to drop some commitments in order to be successful in their MBA program.
Many MBA programs encourage their students to apply their learning to the business world as they progress through school. Entrepreneurship programs offer funding for student startups and have competitions to encourage innovation. Some students consult for their former employers or work toward opening their own business. All of this must be done during the student’s “free time.”
Most MBA programs involve an experiential internship that can last three to six months. Students work, unpaid, for a company in their current or future industry. During this time, the students’ course load is significantly reduced. Their time is taken up working, usually full time, and learning the ropes at a real company. Because the internship is one of the most important facets of an MBA program, students must be committed to whatever time constraints the internship imposes on them.
Part-time students face different challenges altogether. They must deal with fewer courses at a time, but dragging out the MBA process can be grueling in itself. Staying focused and goal-oriented can be problematic. In addition, although many schools are very flexible, students may encounter scheduling problems with required classes. Part-time students must learn to make their MBA program their priority.
Outside of classes and internships, MBA students have a great opportunity to network and learn. They can lay the groundwork for future relationships and opportunities. MBA clubs offer students the chance to meet other ambitious peers while burnishing the credentials on their resumes and curricula vitae. Clubs usually are organized by field, like the MBA Entrepreneurship Club or the Information Technology Career Club. They hold special events and invite guest speakers from the industry, giving students the opportunity to meet important people in their field.
The successful candidate will learn how to balance course load and opportunity. The education gained in an MBA program is indisputably worthwhile and will assist greatly in developing a career. Many aspects of MBA school life help to steer one to the final goal: an executive position. In their program’s final term, students will begin the process of meeting with recruiters and interviewing for positions in their industry. The decisions they make during their MBA program can bolster their chances upon graduation.