The decision to study business is a critical one in your life. You’ll gain the skills you need to succeed in business and the accolades on your resume that allow you to pursue opportunities with higher pay and greater responsibilities. You’ll have the chance to interface with other enthusiastic students such as yourself and learn from professors at the top of their industry.
You won’t gain an edge or any real value from attending business school if you just show up and slog through it, though. You need to go the extra mile and really make the most out of your studies, whether it’s undergraduate, graduate, or just further professional education. If you’re spending your hard-earned money and using your valuable time, it’s the least you can do.
Keeping this in mind, here are ten things you should know and do as a business student to maximize the value of your time at school and hit the ground running when your studies have been completed:
1. All Degree Requirements
When you officially enroll in your business degree program, take the time to thoroughly review your course catalog and degree requirements. At the very least, you need to know the following:
- Prerequisites for all required courses.
- Necessary GPA to graduate (ideally, look at what’s necessary to graduate with honors).
- Any other requirements – for example, some universities require all graduating students to complete a basic writing exam.
- GMAT/GRE – Most universities will require all grad students to have successfully completed the GMAT or GRE exam most business programs. Although if you plan on taking your studies online, there are a number of online MBA programs without the GMAT.
Your guidance counselor will be able to help you work through your schedule but it’s important to have a good idea ahead of time. This allows you to select your electives strategically and perhaps even fit in a minor or a double-major, giving you a stronger knowledge base and making you a more attractive hire.
2. How to Nail a Presentation
Public speaking skills are critical to success in the business world. To start, you must know how to sell yourself in job interviews. Once you land a job, you’ll need to know how to give presentations, deliver proposals to your boss, and much more. Take your in-class presentations seriously. They’re the best practice you’ll get before the real thing.
3. Social Media is Forever
This is especially important if you’re an undergraduate living the college life on-campus. As you complete your business studies, consider how potential managers and clients might consider your public social media profiles. Take the time to clean them up and remove anything that might not be business appropriate. It’s also good practice for the business world, where inappropriate social media behavior gets employees fired regularly.
4. All of Your School’s Resources
While you’re attending your business school, even if it’s virtual, you’ll have a wide variety of resources available to you. Learn what they are and take advantage of them. The Career Office, for example, will be able to get you in touch with the right recruiters, craft a strong resume and even practice your interview skills. The Alumni Office can help you join the right networking groups and stay connected even after graduation. These resources are included in the cost of your tuition, not leveraging them would simply be practically irresponsible.
5. What Your Specific Goals Are
You’ll clearly need to know what field of business you need to get into in order to select your major. It’s just as important to take the time to think about what specifically you want to do in that field. This will determine the electives and any minors you’ll want to pursue. Take marketing as an example. Your focus for going into sales, research, and social media marketing will lead you down far different academic paths in marketing. Not only will you have a much more solid knowledge base but your resume and elevator pitch to potential employers will be stronger.
6. Your Colleagues and Professors
Making connections with your classmates is easy. You’ll spend plenty of time with them both inside and outside of the classroom in study groups and putting together group projects. Take the time to get to know them personally and develop a real relationship. As you branch out in your respective careers, they may be able to help provide a key recommendation or referral. You’ll also be able to run ideas by them or tap into their knowledge base when you need a little help with an assignment. This strong group of peers will be an invaluable resource throughout your entire career.
Don’t forget about your professors, either. They’re already experts in their field and likely well-connected. Forging the right relationships in your field may be the difference between jumpstarting your career and struggling out of the starting gate post-graduation.
7. Which Publications Are Relevant
Business professionals should never stop learning. In order to improve yourself and stay at the top of your field, it’s imperative to read the right blogs, periodicals, and magazines. Learning which ones are well-respected while in business school lets you develop good habits early and gives you great resources as you complete your studies.
8. How to Write Effectively
In the digital age, writing is more important than ever. You’ll communicate with your colleagues and managers via email, direct instant messages, and probably text messages as well. As you progress through your business studies, you’ll need to be a strong writer in order to perform well on your assignments. If you need help in this area, take a look at our previous article with ten tips to improve your writing skills immediately.
9. The Right Way to Work in a Group
For many business students, group projects are one of the most frustrating aspects of the entire program. Unfortunately, they’ll also some of the most important. Throughout your professional career, you’ll be working in groups and collaborating with your colleagues. Knowing how to incorporate their ideas into your work and getting your opinion through in a respectful manner may be the difference between professional success and failure. Even if you plan on being an entrepreneur, you’ll need to work nicely with vendors and clients. There’s no way to get around it – a successful businessperson must know how to play nicely with others.
10. How You’re Paying For It
Business school is an incredible investment in yourself, but the tuition is rarely negligible. If you’re living on-campus, you’ll need to account for room and board plus living expenses, too. Make sure you fully understand how much you’ll pay and what your monthly payments will be upon graduation to avoid a nasty surprise. To help you out, here are nine creative ways to consider financing your studies.