Lindsay recently asked me if I had any tips for newbie MBA students, so I decided to make a post out of my answer. I'm no grad school expert, by any means, but I did pretty dang well in grad school (if I do say so myself) considering I was a full-time student, foster-mom, and worked 40+ hours per week.
Here are a few of my do's and don'ts:
Do write EVERYTHING down. Planners are your best friend. Write every assignment down and check it off your to-do list once it is complete. I found myself getting overwhelmed when I would look at the syllabus, so I chose to do this on a weekly basis-every Sunday I would sit down and write my to-dos for the week.
Don't expect yourself to remember everything. After you fail an assignment or discussion board because you "forgot," you will learn to prioritize.
Do take a break. I made it a point to close my computer and watch a movie when I found myself getting overwhelmed.
Don't waste your time reading every word on every page of the endlessly boring textbook. I'm all for learning; but odds are, if you were smart enough to get into grad school, you're smart enough to know that there are chapter summaries at the end of every chapter. If there isn't a chapter summary, skim read the chapter and get the general gist of the chapter. I found that most of the information was applications of things I learned in undergrad.
Do beg/borrow/steal your textbooks. (kidding...kind of)
Don't EVER pay full price for your textbooks, there are plenty of budget friendly options; I borrowed my textbooks, purchased used copies off ebay, or purchased International Editions. Also, wait until you see the syllabus before you purchase your book--often times you won't even need it. I probably only bought 4 books throughout my entire MBA program.
Do take a deep breath and know that the end is near.
Don't forget to reward yourself for good work--if you ace the class, go buy yourself something nice.
Do remind yourself that you are accomplished. Whether you have a 4.0 or a 2.5, you are already ahead of the large majority of the population. Not everyone can make it to grad school--let's be real, not everyone can make it through undergrad. YOU did, and for that, you are awesome!
Don't forget to blog. It's a great release. I got more support from my blogger friends than I did from my "real-life" friends.
If you are questioning whether or not to apply to grad school, DO it! Despite the sleepless nights, the seemingly endless student debt, and the lack of social life, it is so worth it. You won't regret it.
As my Papaw always said, "the one thing that nobody can take away from you is your education."