May 17, 2016

A Message to My Pre-MBA Self

My advice: compartmentalize and engage with your classmates.

Getting back into the rhythm of class requires digging up several old habits from undergrad. Balancing everything can be a lot, and most times you'll go from work to class and directly home. It's difficult to engage with others in the program on top of what we all have going on. However, these are the exact two areas I'd harp on myself or anyone else starting the program. Force yourself to be mindful of only your immediate task at hand, and make a point to engage with others in the program.
A reality of the part time program is that most (if not all) of us are dealing with several other commitments. There are times I'd find myself thinking about school at work, work while in class, and both while spending time with friends. I'd want to do some school work at a lull in my job, and at times I did, followed by a self-scolding for not working at work. What all that really amounted to was me just being terrible at everything instead of effectively balancing. Scheduling time for schoolwork and trusting myself to follow the schedule was what started to help.  After I had a schedule and got in the rhythm of classwork I found I was better able to focus on my immediate tasks at hand. I knew I'd allotted time for other tasks so those stressed me out significantly less. Compartmentalizing each separate piece of one's life is certainly easier said than done (possibly impossible), but simply working on it helped ease anxiety of handling several commitments.
I took the online version of Statistics my first semester, my first stats class. As expected, most of my weeks while learning the material were spent feeling like an idiot. What consistently helped was talking to others each Thursday evening during Strategic Management. I'd go Monday through Wednesday with anxiety through the roof, only to experience a wave of relief each Thursday after hearing others were having identical challenges. As the semester went on, making a point to talk to classmates throughout the week and at class was a huge help dealing with the stresses of each course. My recommendation to my past self in this regard would be to make a point to communicate with others during the week, and if that wasn't feasible, to at least remind myself others are likely having similar challenges.
Finally, relax. Take time for yourself. This program is not supposed to make us fail. There were several stressful times, but I'm thrilled with what I've learned after only one semester. The program is put in place for working professionals, and as long as the work that's asked gets done, you'll be fine.