The start of every year is a great time to reflect on what went well the previous year—and how you can improve in the next. Indeed, the time-honored tradition of setting resolutions for the new year can be especially valuable for MBA students and applicants. Whether you’ve just completed your first or third semester of an MBA program or are still working on perfecting your MBA applications, there are always a few resolutions that can help make the most of how ever much of your MBA experience is still ahead of you.
We’ve compiled a list of business school New Year’s resolutions from current MBA students at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. While some are specific to Saïd’s program, they all represent great business school advice you’d do well to read regardless of whether you haven’t yet started or are closing in on graduation.
Business School New Year’s Resolution One: Balance Your Time
Whether you’re busily working on your applications, are about to start your first semester in an MBA program, or whether your final semester stretches out in front of you, learning how to balance your time is key to success in any MBA program. Marla Woodward (MBA ’18) explains how important it is to take care of all aspects of your life.
“To balance your time, pick an activity for your mind, an activity for your body, and an activity for your spirit,” Woodward wrote in a blog. “For example, this term I’m leading a project for the Oxford Strategy Group for my mind, I’m participating in fencing for my body, and I’m maintaining weekly family dog walks for my spirit.”
Containing the amount of time spent on schoolwork is also important. During your MBA, you’ll be presented with countless readings and assignments. Each class will load your schedule with things to do, and the best way to achieve success is to plan out how you’ll budget your time to get everything done for class while not overwhelming your life.
“Map out all readings, exams, and group projects in your calendar, so you know what’s coming when,” Woodward recommends. “This will help you anticipate how to budget your time when you have multiple group projects all due on the same day, and it will also come in handy when, heaven forbid, you can only find time for a portion of the readings and you need to decide which are the most valuable.”
Business School New Year’s Resolution Two: Take Advantage of Your Network of Classmates
This resolution is especially important for applicants who are preparing to start an MBA in 2018. Instead of thinking of it as entering a world of strangers, Bremen Leak (MBA ’18) advocates taking the attitude of poet W.B . Yeats who said, “There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet.”
When Leak first started his studies at Oxford Saïd, it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. He was waitlisted. Then, once he was finally accepted, his housing fell through, and he was left without a place to live. But after starting school, he was offered a place to live by a classmate he had just met. And this was just the first of many times that he says a classmate helped him out.
“Since my first day inside the business school, I’ve watched my classmates—some 330 MBAs from 60 countries—band together to help one another succeed,” Leak wrote in a blog. “They’ve divvied up reading assignments and formed study groups and tutoring sessions. They’ve shared jokes, drinks, encouragement, and advice… Who were these people but strangers just a few months earlier?”
If it wasn’t for the fact that Leak had learned to treat his classmates like close friends, no matter how long [or short] their acquaintance, he could have missed out on many opportunities.
Business School New Year’s Resolution Three: Use Every Resource Available to You
From the moment you first start considering an MBA, there will be countless resources available to help you make the best decision. Here at Clear Admit, we offer dozens of articles each week containing the latest MBA news, advice from admissions teams, and interviews with current students. Of course, there are also the rankings from outfits like U.S. News & World Report, the Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and others to help you find the best program for you.
Perhaps most important of all are the resources provided by individual MBA programs themselves. There are the websites, of course, and the information sessions and the school fairs. But many applicants tell us that the most invaluable resources provided by the schools are the students themselves and everything you encounter on campus is a visit is in any way possible.
That’s what Nikhil Dugal (MBA ’18) discovered when he first started considering an MBA. In fact, the availability of resources was one of the main reasons he chose Oxford Saïd—in particular, the resource of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.
“Coming from a background in economics and math, I wanted to study business in a place that was focused on supporting social entrepreneurs and actively involved in the changing narrative on the nature of business. Due to this reason, I had a very specific list of MBA programs,” Dugal explained on a Skoll Centre blog. “Saïd Business School was at the top of this list, especially due to the countless resources they offer to social entrepreneurs and the presence of the Skoll Centre.”
Those resources helped Dugal receive the Skoll Scholarship, which provided him with the opportunity to pursue his goals without worrying about his finances. Since starting his MBA, there have been many other opportunities.
“Over the next year I plan to use all the resources we are offered here, including programs such as Map the System, Skoll Academy, and Skoll Venture Awards to refine the mission of my organization and explore levers for change to help us scale our impact,” Dugal wrote. “I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few sessions at the Skoll Academy already and am extremely impressed with the program the Centre has been able to put together as an alternative to the Consulting Development Program and the Finance Lab offered to the rest of the MBA class.”
With just a week into the New Year, there’s plenty of time to make good on your business school resolutions. What are you waiting for?