I graduated with my MBA in May 2017, and time has been flying by! I learned quite a few things along the way and I’ve been eager to share this post. I love higher education, but let’s level- I was the first in my family to go to a 4-year school, and additionally the first to continue with a master degree. I had a ton of questions and no one to answer. If you’re considering graduate school, or even just curious, I’m here to share my top 7 things I wish I knew before going back to school.
Here’s the 7-things I wish I would’ve been told:
Be ready for LOTS of reading!
I was shocked by the amount of reading material I had on top of homework, quizzes, projects and a never ending study list. Even as much as I enjoy reading, and reading business stuff, it gets tiring. Learn to adapt and create a doable schedule! On any given week, I had 50+ pages of material to read before the assignment. Your planner soon becomes your new BFF.
Balance is an act.
I worked full-time, maintained a social life, traveled and went through a 2-year graduate program. Balancing each facet of my life soon became an art. I missed out on so many opportunities! At first, I had a difficult time saying “no,” but I learned quickly. Say “no” to the right things, and covet your time. Your life suddenly changes, and to be successful, you must learn how to adapt.
It’s not cheap.
Nothing good comes free or easy- always remember that. The same goes for the perfect graduate school program. I took a gap year just to make sure I wasn’t cutting myself short. Your education has fighting power, and a good education is worth it. However, before jumping into anything, consider all the costs. Between materials, travel (dependent on the program) and the loans, make sure you know your best options. And who knows, if you’re lucky, maybe your job will pay for it, or you’ll be making enough to pay off your loans quicker! That’s a goal anyways!
Group projects don’t go away.
Okay, this was a weird one for me, but it was almost a shocking revelation in my first graduate school class. I HATED group projects because I was stuck doing the work. When I found out we were literally divided up into groups, I instantly began dreading the next two years. However, if it’s any consolation, the dynamics of these groups change. You get to work alongside peers who want to succeed as much as you. Each class gets a little harder, and if you’re lucky, you can use other’s strengths to your advantage. Learn to work as a community and appreciate differences.
Life still happens outside of school.
The biggest lie I told myself was that going back to graduate school would be similar to my undergraduate. That is NOT true! I had a completely different set of people in my life, and I functioned in a different environment. I taught myself how to adapt traveling for work, and making it back in time, with a 20-page report due by Thursday at 6 p.m. It’s 100% doable to succeed at graduate school AND work-life. It just becomes “work-life-graduate school-balance.”
Put down the book.
With so much talk about the workload, time management and studying, I forgot to tell you- PUT DOWN THE BOOK. I know it’s a conundrum, but seriously, learn to BALANCE. I told too many people “no” and have a few regrets mixed in. While you need to be diligent, it’s okay to sacrifice one night of studying!
Surround yourself with people that support you.
Last and most important- you’re going to think countless time if it’s worth it or not. It’s always worth it, but you need encouragement and a steady support system. Cut toxic out, and make room for people who cheer you on. Surround yourself with people that can help you become the best version of you. You CAN do it!