There's no question that earning an MBA is 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 program, especially if you have realistic expectations of what it entails before you start classes.
On paper, balancing 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 MBA coursework with career and other responsibilities is the most common challenge that online students face.1 For this reason, refining your time management skills is key to MBA success: With some careful budgeting and a commitment to using your resources wisely, it's possible to get everything done, and still have a 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 it will pay off in the end.
Ideally, 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. Our curriculum is broken down so that students take only one course at time, helping you manage your workload more effectively.
Connecting With Others
One of the best parts of an MBA education is the opportunity to meet and work with individuals from different backgrounds and parts of the world. This can be a double-edged sword, though: When your b-school classmates are scattered across the globe, it can be harder to bridge the cultural and geographical gaps between yourself and them.1
However, you can build real connections with your cohort if your online coursework is strategically designed to foster maximum ease of connection, and if you commit to communicating actively in your classes. William & Mary's Online MBA also helps foster a cohesive community via a required residency that allows students to solidify the connections they've made online and develop lasting relationships with their cohort.
Grasping the Subject Matter
An MBA education is designed to introduce you to new ideas, concepts and subjects—and even if you’ve been an excellent student in the past, you might struggle with some of the new materials in your courses. This is especially true if you don’t have a business or quantitative background, and the concepts being presented are entirely new to you.
That doesn't mean that you cannot successfully earn an MBA, though. In fact, students without a business background often do very well in an MBA program, because they bring with them a unique skill set that allows them to approach problems creatively. However, if you are struggling, 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 classmates (see above), then they 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.
Developing New Ways of Thinking
A truly standout online MBA program will be designed to get students out of their comfort zones and develop new ways of thinking and problem solving. Developing this new mindset involves risk-taking, something that is uncomfortable for many students. However, business school is the time to take risks and try new approaches; here, you'll receive feedback and support from others going through the same process. This won’t always be true out in the business world after you graduate.
William & Mary's unique curriculum 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, students develop new skills and perspectives that they may not have otherwise considered.
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.
William & Mary is committed to helping every student reach his or her potential, and provides plenty of resources to support them. Discover more about our Online MBA program if you think you're up to the challenge.
1. Retrieved on May 1, 2018, from poetsandquants.com/2016/07/04/hardest-parts-business-school/