BusinessWeek has a really nice article detailing ten tips to make the most of your first semester (back) at school. I’ve summarized them below, but feel free to check out the entire article here.
(1) Get reacclimated to being a student: Most business school students have been out of school at least three years; some for much longer. Making the transition back to being a student can be tough, so take a week or two and focus only on schoolwork, so you can accurately gauge the time commitment.
(2) Don’t overcommit: There’s always the desire to join lots of clubs and activities, but trying to balance a ton of clubs and activities and your work is just asking to get burnt out. Focus your time on just a few things that you really enjoy, and maybe work your way up to leadership positions in them.
(3) Avoid the herd mentality: With all the recruiting events that go on, it’s easy to lose sight of your original goals. Many times, people will begin to consider career paths they’d never considered before, simply because their classmates choose to go that route.
(4) Be a team player: Teamwork is a key aspect in many business school projects. Make sure you don’t dominate the team, but also make sure you contribute. Be open to giving and receiving feedback from your team members.
(5) Sit in the front row, or an aisle seat: This one is all about first impressions. You want to be noticed (in a good way, of course), and the front row is the best place for this (with aisle seats being a good alternative). Also be sure to come to class prepared and ready to contribute.
(6) Get to know your professors and TAs: Take advantage of office hours. This is beneficial in two ways: first, getting face time with your professors and TAs builds relationships, which can be very beneficial to you in the long run. Second, these are the most knowledgeable people in regards to your classes, and they’re the ones that will help you succeed.
(7) Strategize early for career events: Talk with career services. Attend workshops. Do what you can to better prepare yourself for these events, because that will allow you to stand out. And in the business world, that’s a good thing.
(8) Take some time to breathe: Seriously. Even if you have to schedule it in, make sure you take time away from schoolwork & club activities, and just hang out. Go to dinner. Catch a movie. Go for a walk. Just don’t burn yourself out.
(9) Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Again, take advantage of office hours. Ask questions. Get tutoring. Nobody said you have to go it alone. You have resources, so make the most of them. After all, that’s just good business sense!
(10) Don’t be a perfectionist: While it’s understandable that you want every assignment you turn in to be perfect, you need to realize that there isn’t always time to do that. Obviously, you should put your best effort into everything you do, but just make sure the time you spend “perfecting” one thing doesn’t prevent you from completing another.