Learn From My Mistakes: Getting Ready for the MBA Program

Kalpesh Shah, TMMBA alumnus (Class of 2009)

Class of 2011, welcome to the great TMMBA program. There are certain things I wish I had done differently when I was going through the program. I am listing these things hoping that you learn from my mistakes as you prepare yourselves for the grueling schedule of the next 18 months.

  • The first quarter: Welcome to your worst nightmare, the first quarter. I am sure you have heard that the first quarter is very challenging/hectic/difficult. Let me assure you that every one of those stories is correct. This program is front loaded with a lot of content covered during the first quarter. This is by design as a lot of things you will learn during this quarter will be handy later in the program. This quarter might be even more challenging for people who are new to financial accounting and economics. The sooner you accept this fact, the better you will be able to prepare yourselves to face this challenge. This brings us the next point.
  • Prepare yourself: The best way to get the most out of the program is to be prepared for every lecture. The rule of thumb is two hours of preparation for every hour of lecture. There are a number of things you will need to do to be fully prepared. Most important of all is to complete all the reading assignments before the lecture, take down notes and questions while doing your reading.  This will help you better understand the concepts discussed during the lecture. The other advantage is you will be prepared if the professor cold calls on you with a question.
  • Prepare your loved ones: With all the time spend on lectures and preparing for the lectures, you won’t have as much time for your loved one as before. Therefore, it is very important that you manage their expectations right from the beginning. If possible, use them as sounding board for your ideas/assignments. This will make them feel more invested in your studies and you will have more time with them.
  • Prepare your study team: Your study team will have a very big influence on how much you get out of your program. I was extremely fortunate that my study team was in sync with our goals as individuals and as a team. Try to come up with a plan to meet regularly to discuss your team assignments. Some of the students use the dinner time before the lecture for networking with people outside of their study team. I would suggest that you use that time to discuss your thoughts on the day’s lecture. This way you can hold each other accountable for completing the reading assignments for that days lecture and get more ideas to share while discussing a topic during the lecture.  You can still network with other students during the break time.
  • Early Start: Although this might be easier said than done, try to get an early start on your individual and team assignments. This will help you overcome unforeseen obstacles. Yes, there WILL be many obstacles along the way.
  • Professors: TMMBA program’s professors are not only brilliant, but also very accessible. You can make appointments with the professors to help you with any topics you are struggling with. Every professor has a different schedule, so check with them for times when they are available for these appointments. Similarly, you can get a lot out of the TAs.
  • Workout: Even if you do it only for 10 minutes a day, try to make your favorite workout a daily part of your day. This will give you some time away from the daily grind of going through a MBA program while having a full time job and keep your mind and body feeling more energetic.

The most important thing is to enjoy the wonderful experience of being in a room full of brilliant minds. Good Luck!