For many of us, by the time we enter our MBA program, it’s been at least a few years since we’ve been required to take a midterm. So, this week, a short post on some of my observations about taking midterms.
Keep up with the work in class – don’t let the homework slide at the beginning thinking that you’ll catch up later. It will be exhausting to try to study for midterms while you’re learning things for the first time. (This especially applies in accounting!)
Study with friends – they may have the same questions you do and that will help you figure out the problem together. Or they may have thought of a question you didn’t. Either way, it helps to mingle solo-study with group-study.
Spread it out – haven’t our mothers been trying to teach us this lesson since elementary school? You get the syllabus at the beginning of the quarter. Plan accordingly.
Take breaks – I call them brain breaks. Run and get food, watch an episode of your favorite show, or go out with friends and let off some steam.
Enjoy yourself – stress can have a negative affect on your grade. Find the appropriate balance between sense of urgency and enjoyment.
Life is a little bit easier if we learn to overcome fear. In the traditional sense, fear will keep us from discovering new places, and from meeting new people, and from trying crazy things (like taking a jump off a 30 foot high platform with a small harness and a heck of a lot of hope).
But fear has even bigger every day implications. It can prevent us from seeing a new idea. It can prevent us from doing our best in class. It can prevent us from discovering our passions in life. And yet, fear is so embedded in most of us that we let it get in the way more often than we should.
Fear of being wrong can lead a person to choose arrogance to cover up that fear. Fear of being right can lead a person to shy away from their true potential. Fear of not succeeding can prevent a person from trying in the first place.
So when you feel that ghoulish feeling you get when fear starts to creep up on you, fight it off with curiosity. Approach situations full of questions, knowing that you probably know more than you think you do and yet less than you wish you did. Approach situations with wonder, and let the world answer questions along the way. Approach situations with an open mind, ready to absorb all of the new information you are about to receive.
Be curious about taking the GMAT. Be curious about your first accounting class if you’ve never taken one before. Be curious when you’re introduced to an idea in class that you’ve never considered. Or better yet, be really curious when you’re introduced to an idea that you’ve always rejected — encourage an opportunity to re-evaluate what you think you know.
In reality, it’s important to know that sometimes it feels more comfortable to curl up under the covers and hide from fear, hoping it will go away. And if you need a few minutes under the covers, use that time to prepare yourself to jump into your next opportunity with curiosity – a chance to learn and grow.
I had been thinking about business school from the moment I graduated from my undergraduate institution. In fact, I distinctly remember telling my career counselor that my plan was to work for a few years to gain some industry experience, and head back to B school. (This was partly because as much as I enjoyed my time studying Greek and Latin, I knew my area of study would be of minor help in the corporate world).
Then I entered the work world and was sucked into a delightful little spiral in which I was learning a new industry, taking new jobs, being promoted, and moving to new cities to gain new experiences. Oh, and I was making money. It didn’t seem prudent to leave all of that to go back to school, especially since I didn’t know exactly what I what I wanted to do after school.
And I still don’t know. The great thing about Fisher is that more people seem to be in the “not knowing” category than the “knowing” one. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people that know exactly why they are here getting an MBA and how it will help them to further their careers in a given field. I envy them. But, it’s great to know that I’m surrounded by people who spend a great deal of time pondering the age old question “what am I going to be when I grow up?” (A question that I’m given to understand is OK to ask at all ages, if my Dad is any indication. A man with a fantastic career that he loves isn’t afraid to think there might be something new and different on the horizon.)
Fisher is a great place to spend your time pondering your next career move, while you learn the fundamentals of the business world. The resources to help you find your ideal career path are endless. The career services center is one boundless melting pot of information that is distributed through all of the different people that work to help Fisher students find jobs/careers. The boot camps that they administer at the beginning of the year are a great way to gain industry insight. Career fairs, career aptitude tests, company information, corporate visits, and of course, your classmates, are all great and supportive tools in your search for what you want to be when you grow up.
I’ve already been able to narrow down my fields of interest and the areas on which I want to focus my studies by utilizing the resources at Fisher, and I’ve only been here a few weeks! Fear not, I’m still far from knowing exactly what I’ll be doing in June 2013. But I know I”ll enjoy the path of discovery that Fisher will take me on to get there.
A path, I might add, that includes the support of little Einstein.
Back in the day, as the saying goes, if we were assigned a project in class, for the most part, we had little say in the topic. If we did have a choice, we were still often encouraged to pick something we “liked” or something that would teach the class a new concept. Already, in two of our core classes, we have been told to pick something for our projects that we are “passionate” about.
It seems to me that business school is all about passion. You have to have a passion to return to business school that helps to substantiate the cost (and opportunity cost) of attending. Perhaps you are coming to business school because you are passionate about a certain career track and an MBA will help you get there. If not, then you spend a great deal of time with career services trying to determine what it is you’re passionate about – so that you can focus on that track. You’re encouraged to join clubs and organizations for which you have a passion that will help round out your B-school experience. And if you’re not passionate about something, you really don’t have time to waste on it, because the things that you are passionate about will take up all of your time.
So my advice to prospective students: apply with passion! Write your essays on something that really lights a fire in your belly. Come to your interviews prepared to passionately tell your story. That passion will set you apart from all of the other candidates. It’s hard to forget a candidate who is passionate about coming to THE Ohio State University!
In addition to that…you might want to make sure you have at least a marginal passion for football. Of course, if you don’t, you’ll develop one pretty quickly. As you can see, even Einstein is a fan!
I’ve completed week one of classes, and I’ve noticed that while grad school invokes memories of my undergrad experience, it is, in fact, quite different. First of all, I seem to have developed a case of adult-onset ADD, most likely from the years of working in a “multitasking” environment. My mother would probably laugh at that and insist that I’ve always had a short attention span, but it definitely seems to have gotten worse. I have some tricks to deal with it. Coffee breaks, checking email, and logging on to LinkedIn to work on networking all help break up the studying a bit. The second thing that’s different this time around is that instead of living a carefree life in the dorm, I’m actually responsible for running a household. Remembering to pay bills, cleaning when necessary, and cooking (well – microwaving) all need to be done and all consume time. It’s something to consider, prospective students, as you are deciding what program you’ll be pursuing.
Helping me transition back into a life of academics is my study buddy, Einstein. There is something truly comforting about having a furry little body curled up in my lap while I’m analyzing financial statements. He seems to be a more effective vice than what I turned to in college; the benefits of late night pizza and coffee are short lived.
It’s that time of year to start those MBA school applications. So as you think about returning to a life of studying, tests, reading, and professor office hours, start to think about how you’ll make the transition. Ask yourself what sort of lifestyle you would like to have during school. Start getting yourself into the habit of sitting for long periods of time for reading and analyzing. And I recommend buying all of the luxuries that you will need to get you through school while you’re still making money (ex. designer shoes or exotic travel). And then you will easily transition back to student life and be able to truly enjoy your MBA experience.
And if it interests you, I highly recommend a lap dog.
Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned. — Emily Dickinson
Imagine my delight! Eight years after completing my undergraduate degree in English and Classical Civilization, I arrive on campus to start my MBA at Fisher, and I’m greeted by the above quote, carved into stone in the Fisher quad. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to see an American poet quoted at a business school, but after 10 days of orientation, I completely understand why this quote was chosen to represent the school. The faculty and staff at Fisher are here to train leaders – complete with strong quantitative skills, the ability to interact effectively with people of all cultures, an awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps most importantly, a desire to work hard to achieve their goals. It was made quite clear to the incoming class that hard work is what leads to success; whether it’s networking a little every day, meeting with your core teams to discuss what’s going on in class, or jumping right in to interview training and job searching. Fortune’s expensive smile IS earned, and I believe Fisher is going to be a great place to do so.