For students

7 Ways to Prepare for Your First Year of Business School

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For students


You studied for and took the GMATs, researched and applied to business schools, and were accepted by a program. That is no small feat—congratulations! If you're wondering to yourself, "Now what?" you've got the right idea. Doing some prep work before you show up at business school will be integral to your success over the next two years. Here are seven ways to hit the ground running:

1. Understand trade-offs 

It will be helpful to frame your business school experience as a series of trades-offs and as one grand exercise in decision-making. Because you can't do it all, you'll want to spend some time before school starts mapping out what's important to you. To help you create a framework, read this letter written by Rohan Rajiv, a Kellogg School of Management grad, who discusses balancing academic, recruitment, social, extracurricular, personal, and health needs. Make a list of priorities and workshop some sample schedules to see how you'll fit it all in—and if you can't fit it all in, consider what you'll prioritize.

2. Research classes and professors

While you don't need to pick every class you'll take for the duration of business school, research what classes and professors are highly recommended, which areas of study your school specializes in, the skills you'll need prior to your summer internship, and your school's general education requirements.

If there's a particular course of study or specialization that you're interested in, research the prerequisites for that track. You'll want to sign up for these early on in your course trajectory. Additionally, some schools may offer prerequisites to business school, such as a summer accounting course or boot camp to refresh math skills. Such courses can be a great way to prepare and get back into the academic mindset.

3. Map out your finances

Before heading to school, create a final budget of all costs, including moving, travel, and monthly living expenses. Compare this against your different sources of income, such as loans, scholarships, and savings. Going through this exercise can help you determine exactly how much you'll need in loans. (It's a good idea not to take out more than you need—paying back student loans can be an arduous process.)

Finalize your sources of student aid, whether they be federal loans or private loans. If you are in need of additional financing, look at lenders like CommonBond, who offer competitive rates on loans for graduate school. Understand the terms for each of your loans, including what you'll owe in interest, when you'll need to start paying back the loans, and the standard repayment plan on the loan.

4. Prepare for the recruiting process

The recruiting process will be a large part of your business school experience, so it's wise to prepare for this experience now. Recruiting begins almost immediately after you step a foot on campus. It is an essential element of business school, but it can be time-consuming and even draining at times. Spend some time charting the types of roles and responsibilities you're interested in and the companies you want to work for. You may also want to make sure your resume is up-to-date.

5. Attend all welcome events and social gatherings

Business school is as much about making connections as it is about coursework. Not only will welcome events provide you with information on navigating the next few years, but you'll get a head start on meeting fellow students and making those invaluable connections. The relationships you build at business school aren't simply transactional; a sense of community will also help you thrive interpersonally. Look at ongoing social gatherings as not only an opportunity to meet a future business partner, but true friends.

6. Allow yourself to de-stress

Transitioning away from work and back into school is already overwhelming, but can be especially trying for business school students who are also expected to socialize and participate in the recruitment process. It's a lot, all at once. Whether it's exercise, binge-watching Netflix, or spending time with friends, create time in your schedule for activities that fill you up and prepare you to face the world.

7. Have confidence

Imposter syndrome—the feeling that you're not good enough, and don't deserve to be in a certain position—can hit business school students hard. It may begin as you meet your impressive, bright classmates and is exasperated by the rigors of business school curriculum and extracurricular activities. Remind yourself often that you were chosen by the admissions committee for a reason and that you deserve to be there. It'll be hard work while you're there, but you'll look back on your MBA years as some of the most rewarding and transformative of your life. Have fun and confidence in your abilities!


With a thoughtful approach and some careful planning, you can make the most of your business school experience. And if you need to check student loan off your pre-MBA to-do list, learn more about what CommonBond has to offer.

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