There are so many reasons to invest in an MBA for the sake of your future and your career. If you are interested in starting your own business or want to prepare yourself for a global executive role, then an MBA degree can be just the ticket to helping you achieve every goal that you have set out for yourself.
The smart way to go about earning your MBA is to continue to work. This isn’t because taking time out of your career to go into full-time education will hurt you, but it can mean you miss out on opportunities that would only be available to you if you continued to work.
If you intend to leave your current job anyway, then you may find it easier to enroll in person. You can even move to a new city to start building your network in this new area and eventually prepare yourself to start a career in that metropolis. For example, if you intend to leave a managerial role in a small town to move to Boston, then going into full-time education can give you an essential buffer and several resources to help you earn your MBA and start your career in this new city.
If you are already in a big company and intend to stay, however, or your current job offers many benefits, then you may prefer to earn your MBA online while you continue to work. The same applies if you have personal responsibilities you need a steady income to manage or if you simply want to reduce the amount of debt you take on by paying as you go.
Knowing the right situation for your goals is an absolute must because only when the option you choose fits your goals and needs can you truly get the most out of it. If you find a full-time, on-campus degree better suited for you, you will automatically benefit from a routine and productive environment.
If an online degree is a right approach for you, however, then this guide will help you juggle your degree, your work, and your personal responsibilities.
Choose the Right MBA for You
Finding the right online MBA can feel daunting. There are far more options online than in-campus, from both recognizable universities and from ones you may have never heard of before. Just because the university in question is not a big name does not mean that the degree is less valuable. What you learn, who you learn from, and the resources allotted to you as a student matter far more.
There are certain characteristics, of course, that will help you find the best online MBA programs. A good place to start is with accreditation.
Accreditation can help you pick out a good shortlist of online MBA options. To be accredited, the institution and the course go through several rounds of quality checks, so you can be assured you will get a high standard quality of education.
AACSB Accreditation, for example, is only given to 5% of business schools around the world. Choosing an AACSB accredited degree is an easy way to ensure that the degree offers the right curriculum.
Other additional characteristics to look for with any online degree include flexible, 100% online formats, student success advisors, and a robust network.
To narrow down your list of options even further, investigate the faculty. If you would want them mentoring you, you want them to educate you.
There are other ways to narrow down your options as well. Explore degree reviews to get a better understanding of what students and graduates thought of their degree. You can even get in touch with recent graduates for advice if you can find them online. Some won’t be interested in helping you; others will be more than happy to impart some wisdom to you.
You can only choose one MBA, so ensuring that it is perfect for your goals and offering all the tools you will need to succeed is imperative.
How to Work While Completing Your Online MBA
Full-time work and part-time education are a big commitment, even for the most organized of people. Add in kids, health issues, and other personal concerns, and it can easily start to feel overwhelming.
That is why you need to prepare beforehand. By building the necessary routines and safeguards beforehand, you can stay healthy, stay focussed, and, more importantly, have a safety net to fall back on.
How to Improve Your Routines
There are several routines that you are going to need to get a handle on before you enroll.
1. Your Sleeping Routine
A good night’s rest is great for our mental faculties and for our stress levels. The difference can be between night and day, and no, caffeine will not help keep the side effects of a bad night’s sleep at bay.
Though there is no way to guarantee a good night’s rest every single night, there are several methods that you can use to increase the likelihood. The first and biggest tip? Go to sleep at the same time every day, and wake up at the same time. How much sleep you get in-between will depend on you and your needs. Some function perfectly fine on eight hours of sleep, others need more. Work out how much your optimal sleep levels are, and then commit to that every night.
It can feel like you’re losing out on free time, but what you are gaining in your day will more than make up for it.
Other tips include turning off electronics after sunset or at least using night mode. Use black-out curtains to keep street lights out and to upgrade your bed for a more comfortable night’s sleep.
2. Your Diet
Another big source of energy comes from your diet. Eating healthy and well can take time, however, if your diet wasn’t the greatest beforehand. Some foods, like those high in salt or sugar, can even cause withdrawals on their own. Don’t try to eat better the same time you start your degree; do this beforehand. This way, you can work out what foods and meals are easy and offer you the biggest benefits.
Regular exercise can help keep you physically strong, can help you reduce your stress levels, and is also a great way to increase the amount of oxygen to the brain. Like changing your diet, it does take some time to start feeling the benefits. Give yourself a few weeks so that you don’t feel physically exhausted after you exercise before you start your MBA for the best results.
4. Your Study Routines
Another routine you will want to prep is your study routine. You can take free short courses during the periods you will later use to work on your MBA. You can read during this time. You can brush up on industry news or other relevant journals. Regardless of what you decide to learn during this time, try to keep it consistent so that you get used to the energy it takes after a workday.
To understand why you should do this just consider what it is like when you first start a new job. As everything is new, it’s exhausting. Six months in, however, and days can just whip by with how fast they seem to go. This is because you know what to do, and your body only uses the necessary energy. You can’t get used to taking an online MBA before you actually start, but you can get used to learning and working long after your workday ends.
Build a Support Network
You need several support networks to help you succeed. Your friends and family are just the first networks you have, but you don’t want to rely on them for anything other than support. If they can be a break; a place to tell your worries but more importantly to have fun, that is enough. You can take it one step further and either share meals or invite them over so you can all prep your lunches for the week to save yourself time and effort in the future.
Other networks you will want to build include a study group and, in some instances, a support group. If you struggle with mental health, then a support group (especially if led by a mental health expert) can help you manage your symptoms and give yourself a safe space where you can talk about your mental health.
For most, however, your focus is going to be on creating a study group. Get in touch with other students taking the same course as you (ideally beforehand, so you can get to know each other). By having this network, you can create better study notes, can help each other understand different questions, and can bond together in the trenches, so to speak.
Never underestimate how important having these people will be when it comes to working full time and committing to an MBA. You can do it, and others want to help, so let them and succeed together.