How to Successfully Prioritize in Business School

ChecklistOnce you get to business school, you’re going to hit the ground sprinting. It’s like a tornado picked you up and is whirling you through school, almost literally. The best way to not get stuck in this tornado is to have strict priorities, and actually stick to them. It’s fine to not know exactly what you want to do when you graduate yet, but you should at least have a general idea. And if you can figure out specifically what your goals are before you get to campus, you’ll certainly benefit.

So, here’s how you can prioritize both before and during your time at business school:

1) Get really comfortable talking to people on the phone. The more phone calls you can have with current students and alumni, the better. These will be helpful in initially determining where you want to go to school, and eventually in determining what you should get involved with once you get to campus.

2) Set a list of 3 priorities for yourself. What do you really want to get out of your time at business school? These can include finding a post-MBA career, gaining Quant skills, making new friends, having a lot of fun, etc. Determine why you want to go to business school and make sure you’re sticking to your priorities while you’re there. These priorities could change from month to month. In August, maybe your priority is meeting as many of your classmates as possible. In November, maybe your priority is learning how to case for consulting interviews. Just continue to check in with yourself throughout the year and make sure you’re on track with your goals.

3) Do your research. Every MBA program will have a huge selection of clubs for you to choose from. Looking to get into real estate? There’s a club for that. Want to do business in Africa? There’s a club for that too. Once you know what your goals are, you can then find clubs that align with your interests. But remember, don’t get too distracted by the allure of the Ice Hockey Club (or any other club that doesn’t really relate to your goals) if it’s going to pull you away from your main priorities.

4) Figure out what time commitments you want to add to your class schedule, because class already requires a lot of effort, especially if you don’t come from a quantitative background. In addition to general club membership, you’ll have the opportunity to take on leadership positions in your first year of school. Do you want to be your section’s president? How about the VP of Career Development for your target club? Holding a leadership position like these will take up more of your time than general club membership will, so factor these potential time commitments in when you’re deciding which clubs to join.

5) Know what you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go into consulting, don’t waste your time on it. It’s really easy to get caught up in a sea of corporate presentations when all of your classmates are talking about really interesting companies, but if you know that you want to go into marketing, you probably don’t need to spend two hours at that BCG presentation with your consulting-focused classmates.

6) Determine a scheduling system that works for you. If you don’t use iCal or Google Calendar, etc., you might want to start. During your time at business school, there will be a lot of meetings, company presentations, study sessions, and social events that you’ll want to keep track of on the go. Make sure you have a way to remember everything so you don’t miss out on what’s important.

Before business school, I was very paper-oriented and I had a schedule written out almost daily. Now I almost exclusively use my iCal and sync it to my phone since I sometimes only have 5 minutes to get from one event to another, and it’s much easier to have my phone automatically tell me where to go than to have to pull out my paper planner.

Business school is only 2-3 years of your life. Make sure you’re prepared to take advantage of all of the resources that will be available to you, and be sure to make the most of it. Having priorities before you get to school will help you stay focused and on track for success. If you’re not sure what you want to go into yet, talk to the people at Veritas Prep – we’re here to help!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here