Is getting an MBA hard? There’s no question that it’s challenging. The good news is that you aren’t alone when it comes to tackling the challenges of business school. Not only are your fellow students facing many of the same issues, but you also have access to a great deal of support and resources to help you succeed. There’s no reason that you can’t successfully complete your MBA education, especially if you have realistic expectations of what it entails before you start classes.
Keep reading to explore several of the challenges that students in MBA programs consistently face, and some of the tools and approaches you can use to overcome and benefit from them.
On paper, balancing business school with your career and other responsibilities seems simple. You pencil in time to work on your courses after work or on the weekends, thinking that you can get everything done in that time. But then a client emergency keeps you in the office late into the night, and your daughter has a dance recital on Saturday afternoon. Suddenly, you are crunched for time—and your schoolwork falls further down the to-do list.
Balancing Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses with a full-time job, career ambitions, family obligations and other responsibilities is one of the main challenges that online students face.1 For this reason, refining your time management skills is key to success in an MBA program: With some careful budgeting and a commitment to using your free time wisely, it’s possible to get everything done, enjoy professional success and still have a personal life apart from school and work. It might require some sacrifices—for example, using your lunch hour to work on assignments rather than chatting with coworkers—but they will pay off in the end.
The process of getting an MBA will add new structure to your schedule. Ideally, though, the MBA program that you choose will be designed for maximum flexibility. William & Mary's Online MBA, for instance, takes an “MBA anywhere” approach that allows you to design a schedule that works for you. When it comes to MBA courses, our curriculum is broken down so that students take only one class at time, which supports your time-management efforts and helps you manage your workload more effectively.
Connecting With Others
One of the best parts of an MBA experience is the opportunity to meet and work with business professionals from different backgrounds and parts of the world. This can be a double-edged sword, though: When your business school classmates are scattered across the globe, it may be harder to bridge the cultural and geographical gaps between you and them.1
However, you can build real connections with your MBA student cohort if your online coursework is strategically designed to foster maximum ease of connection, and if you commit to communicating actively in your classes. Your classmates in graduate school become your professional network in the business world, and top business schools provide the invaluable opportunity to nurture those connections. William & Mary's Online MBA program also helps foster a cohesive community via a required residency that allows MBA students to solidify the connections they've made online and develop lasting relationships with the other members of their cohort.
Grasping the Subject Matter
An MBA education is designed to introduce you to new ideas, concepts and subjects, and to help you develop into a competent business expert. Even if you’ve been an excellent student in the past, you might struggle with some of the new materials in your MBA classes. This is especially true if you don’t have a business, business administration or quantitative background, and the concepts being presented are entirely unfamiliar to you.
This needn’t prevent you from successfully completing business school. In fact, students without a business background often do very well in MBA programs, because they bring with them a unique skill set that allows them to approach problems creatively. However, if you are struggling with your course materials, it is essential to be proactive and reach out for assistance and support.
Don’t be afraid to avail yourself of the resources offered by your university and your instructors. If you’ve developed an active rapport with your MBA student cohort (see above), then your classmates should also be willing to offer insight and assistance, just as you would for them. Lastly, at William & Mary, you will have a Student Success Coordinator who is dedicated to helping you every step of the way as you complete your graduate degree.
Developing New Ways of Thinking
Truly standout online degree programs will be designed to get MBA students out of their comfort zones and develop new ways of thinking and problem-solving.
William & Mary’s unique Online MBA program is designed around the concept of a "wicked problem," which you will analyze and develop solutions for throughout the program. By approaching problems from multiple viewpoints, you'll build new skills and gain new perspectives that you may not have otherwise considered.
This evolution involves taking risks, which is uncomfortable for many MBA students. Your attitude makes a tremendous difference: Remember that your time in business school is an opportunity to take risks and try new approaches. You'll receive feedback and support from others going through the same process, which won’t always be the case out in the business world after you graduate.
So, how difficult is an MBA program? Earning an MBA certainly isn’t without challenges, but it’s those very challenges that make the experience so rewarding. With the right mindset and a willingness to stretch yourself, take risks and ask for help, it’s possible to overcome them and succeed—in the near future as an MBA student and in the business world throughout your career.
Enrich your professional experience. Expand your potential.
William & Mary’s full suite of support resources embodies our ongoing commitment to helping all of our students reach their full potential. With attentive Student Success Coordinators, accessible expert faculty and the powerful Raymond A. Mason School of Business network furthering your advancement, you’ll be at the heart of a close-knit, supportive community—from your application date to commencement day and long beyond.