An MBA student sitting on a sofa while studying online through a laptop.
An MBA student sitting on a sofa while studying online through a laptop.

Advice for MBA students: 9 tips before you study


Whether you want to work at a prominent company or run your own business, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will help you develop the strategic, financial and analytical skills demanded of today’s business leaders.

However, preparing to pursue an MBA can be daunting. With so many competing priorities, personally and professionally, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed before you even start.

The key to success is knowing what is ahead. If you’re looking for MBA advice, the following tips can help set you up for success as you set out on your journey to advance your business education.

MBA advice before you begin your studies

We've broken down the most important things to remember at the start of your MBA experience.

1. Get to know the tools and resources

When you pursue an MBA online, you can study when it suits you, even if you have a full-time job. But before you leap into MBA student life, remember to do your research.

Online learning is different to what is delivered in a traditional in-person classroom. Any research and preparation you do beforehand about virtual classrooms will also help you adjust your mindset and expectations.

Find out how to access your online learning portal, materials and any other tools that help you connect with your peers and academics. Also, don’t forget to explore the online library and additional resources such as virtual workshops and forums. Gaining this information early will help remove the guesswork from online study and save you valuable time.

It's also worth checking if your university offers tools that can show you what you need to achieve each week of your studies. For example, VU Online provides academic calendars that outline which milestones you need to reach by the end of week one, week two and so on. As you begin a new area of study, this can ease any stress you may have about where you are up to in relation to other students.

Once you are off and running, know who to contact for technical support if you encounter an issue. Knowing where to get assistance, both academic and technical, before Week 1 can take the stress out of facing any unforeseen setbacks.

2. Ensure you have proper hardware

Studying online requires the right technology. Consider when and where you want to study, and then ensure you have the devices you need to make that happen.

For example, if you want to study at a cafe or on the train, you’ll need an up-to-date laptop. You may also want multiple screens in your home office so that you can run programs side by side without juggling your work on one screen.

Also, before you plunge into your online Master of Business Administration, it’s important to be technologically proficient. If you’re not confident with technology, make sure you invest time to become tech-savvy and learn how to navigate your course’s units and resources.

3. Program your time effectively

Time management is crucial for all MBA students and even MBA applicants; being aware of deadlines is a must. By scheduling your work-life commitments, organising structured study time and being deadline-driven, you’ll manage to keep on track with all your weekly study requirements and assignments. Prioritising time management and establishing a routine will also allow you to feel confident when collaborating with others and contributing to online forums.

Use all the resources you can to help you plan. There are now countless technological tools that can help you use your time wisely. These will help you keep on top of all your tasks, assist with organising your study and enable you to stay motivated.

It’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve in any period. Start with setting goals and reminders, while remembering that your schedule should be realistic and allow for other life commitments. This will avoid disappointment and burnout.

If life gets too difficult for study, remember that you can defer units if necessary. However, use caution—delaying your graduation may not be the best choice. Talk to your university's support team, such as VU Online's Student Success Advisors, to determine what is best for your circumstances.

4. Balance your work-life

Many students who are seeking MBA advice are concerned about managing both their studies and their personal lives. Starting postgraduate study with an MBA without neglecting other aspects of your life is a balancing act, but you can do it.

While there will undoubtedly be early morning starts and late-night finishes in your day, it’s important to unwind and spend time on extracurricular activities that recharge you. Just like timetabling your study, you need to schedule appointments for self-care. This could be a simple walk, taking a nap, making time to catch up with a friend or cooking up a healthy batch of food that will get you through the week.

Studies suggest that regular breaks are crucial to successful work and study. This format alleviates stress levels and boosts productivity. Exercise and meditation are two of the best ways to lower anxiety and improve personal health. So remember—your brain needs downtime to increase your efficiency, restore your attention and enhance your creativity.

5. Build relationships

Networking is a key component of the MBA experience. The relationships you build as an MBA student can last throughout your career—whether with peers, academics, industry experts or university support staff.

As an online student, the opportunities here are even greater. Because you can study from anywhere, you will have the opportunity to meet people across geographic locations, as well as a variety of cultures, languages, genders and walks of life.

Some benefits of building a strong network include:

Less likely to feel isolated during challenging periods

Able to expand your international and cultural awareness

Sharpen your skills in problem-solving, negotiation and analytical thinking

Make contacts who could become your future colleagues or job references

Prepares you for your future career path in a diverse workforce

So—make connections using all the resources available to you: email, messaging systems, virtual study groups, shared documents, and so on.

You could also arrange to meet with MBA alumni who can offer advice on where to work, which companies are hiring and more. Networking among MBA alumni is useful since it provides a ready-made network you can access for help and support.

6. Ask for help

At times, you might feel you’re too far outside your comfort zone or that studying for your MBA has become time-consuming and unmanageable.

If you feel like this, remember that you have already been accepted to study for an MBA by your chosen university—in other words, the university believes you can do this. This is a testament to your ability to achieve your MBA goals, even if it's easy to forget when times are tough.

Every student needs help sometimes, so be confident about asking for help. Contact key people from your support network to troubleshoot any issues you may experience.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the support resources your university offers. At VU Online, you can access 1:1 academic support from your online facilitator seven days a week and in the evenings. You can also access additional support from your unit coordinator through online office hours and teaching seminars.

VU Online will also provide you with a personal Student Success Advisor, who can assist with non-academic queries, such as study planning, navigating deadlines and staying motivated.

Students can be more successful and confident in their studies by asking for help and using the available resources.

7. Find a mentor

The role of a mentor is to provide you with ongoing advice, tips and feedback as you progress through your studies. This helps with motivation and support throughout your coursework. A good mentor will give you direction on your post-MBA career and encourage you to explore different avenues in your field of interest.

It’s also important to remember that you can be a mentor, too. Attend networking events and take the time to get to know your peers—you may learn a lot from each other.

8. Enquire about an access plan if you need it

If you are living with a disability or medical condition, this doesn’t mean you can’t study.

Check with your university about what access plans they offer. An access plan is a document produced by an Accessibility Liaison Officer with you as a registered student. It is tailored to your needs and gives recommendations on what accommodations you may need to thrive in your studies.

Having an access plan means you can avoid having to apply for extensions or special consideration because of your medical condition or disability.

To learn more about the services offered by VU Online, visit our website.

9. Choose a university that supports you

The most important advice for MBA students is to study with a university that supports you throughout your MBA journey.

VU Online’s learning model is designed to ensure you receive the support you need whenever you need it. You will have access to academic support from your online facilitator seven days a week and in the evenings, and there is additional support available from your unit coordinator through online office hours and teaching seminars.

You will also have your own dedicated Student Success Advisor who provides personalised non-academic assistance throughout your course. We also offer personalised IT, library, language, literacy and numeracy support services.

If you're wondering if VU Online is the right university for you, call or email us to discuss your goals. We are here to help.

Discover your path to study success

With VU Online, MBA students study a rich and relevant curriculum delivered by highly qualified academics and facilitators.

Delivered by the internationally respected Victoria University Business School, students benefit from a Master of Business Administration at one of the leading MBA business schools in Australia.

If you are motivated to become a future leader, qualify for post-MBA jobs and make a positive impact on the world around you, learn more about VU Online’s Master of Business Administration.