Written By: Matthew Wilson, 2020 Alumnus
As a recent Jack Welch MBA graduate, I want to share some MBA tips and advice, which helped me to get through the program and gain the most from my academic experience.
1) Don’t Rush
The online MBA process might seem long and daunting, up to three years if you’re taking one class per semester. Although it may be tempting to get through it as fast as possible, it’s more important to do well and maximize your knowledge from the program.
You take from it what you put in, and you’ll be far better off graduating in 3-years with a 3.7 GPA than in 18-months with a 2.7 GPA. Yes, not all employers will ask to see grades, but it will quickly become evident from your level of self-confidence and ability to execute on the job.
To do well in the program, budget 10–15 hours per week, per course. If family, work, or life obligations don’t allow for two classes per semester, don’t rush; take your time, and do it well.
2) Keep a Master Citations List
Keep an ongoing working document of the citations you use each week in your Discussion Questions (DQs). This document will come in handy when writing papers and revisiting content in future courses. Use the free website Zoterobib to quickly create citations from books, websites, articles, and more.
3) Inquire about Scholarships
Speak with your academic advisor regarding potential scholarships. It’s worth an ask, and you might be pleasantly surprised!
As well, based on your background and experience, you may qualify for transfer credits. Speak with your academic advisor to see if you are eligible. It could save you thousands of dollars intuition.
4) Establish a Routine and Stick To It
Life throws many curveballs, but if you can establish a routine and stay disciplined, your academic journey will be far easier, and the weeks will fly by.
Personally, I began each week with some light reading on Sunday evening. Monday mornings, I’d wake up early to finish the readings and get my initial DQ submitted—although it’s not due until Wednesday, if you can get your DQ submitted on Monday or Tuesday, you’ll have a HUGE head start advantage to the week.
Throughout the remainder of the week, I budgeted 30-minutes each morning to visit the discussion board and write my follow-up DQs. My average week looked something like this:
- Sunday: light reading, 1-hour
- Monday: finish reading, write initial DQ, ~5-hours
- Tuesday: complete my first response to a classmate, 30-minutes
- Wednesday: complete my second response to a classmate, 30-minutes
- Thursday: respond to my Professor’s feedback on my initial DQ, 30-minutes
- Friday: respond to my classmate’s feedback on my initial DQ, 30-minutes
- Saturday & Sunday: login for 30-minutes each morning and reply to any additional classmate feedback
- Total time: 9-hours (not including assignments)
5) Start Early on Assignments
Begin looking at assignments the week before they are due and start writing them early.
For example, if an assignment is due Sunday of Week 2, begin working on it Tuesday or Wednesday of Week 1. If you can, try to work on it for at least 1-hour per day, Wednesday through Friday, then let it sit over the weekend, coming back to finish it in Week 2.
Not only will pre-planning prevent you from a late-night cram session on Sunday of Week 2, but it will also make your work significantly better by giving you more time to think and plan, likely elevating your grade from a Pass to an Honors. Personally, by starting early, I continually aimed to have my assignments submitted by Friday of the week in which they were due, giving me the weekend to celebrate the win and relax with family. Starting early is a beautiful thing!
6) Attend All Class Calls & Prep Sessions
Before each assignment, your Professor will hold a Zoom call to go over the instructions and answer any questions. Do your best to attend these calls. The little tidbits of information you can extract might make all the difference in elevating your assignment grade from a Pass to an Honors.
Furthermore, use the grading rubric when writing your assignments. Keep it by your side and follow step-by-step, using similar language and keywords to ensure you cover each graded item, giving the reader clear direction about which points you are addressing.
If you do exceptionally well in a particular course or make a great connection with one of your professors, ask them to write you a short recommendation on LinkedIn (while also returning the favor). These recommendations will be a great resource once you complete the program and are looking to take the next step in your career.
Good luck, and enjoy the journey!