Antonia L. Collins, MBA’20
The decision to attend a full-time MBA program is a life-changing event. Many of us have been away from a formal academic environment (ex. Undergrad) for several years and had adjusted to life as a working adult. As we prepared to leave the working world to become students again, we did our due diligence and talked to current students, alumni, mentors, and sponsors about how to make the most of this experience and things to be mindful of once we arrived on campus. All of those conversations helped me to be ready for this Kelley journey, and I hope that my personal learnings and observations will be helpful to others.
- Plan to give yourself some time off before school starts. This was one thing that everybody told me when I was applying to school, but I seriously underestimated how much time I really needed. Many people recommend taking a vacation before school, but personally, I chose not to take any trips so I had time to spend with family and friends as well as time alone to relax. I only had two weeks off before school started—looking back—I wish I had given myself a month off. There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to how you should spend the time so absolutely do whatever makes sense for you. If that means vacation, time alone, reading a book, visiting with family and friends or anything else—do that. Just make sure that you plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to get all of those things done. Also, don’t forget to include the time you’ll need to move and get settled in your new place. Sufficient time to get these things done will allow you to begin business school relaxed, decompressed, and ready to take on the road ahead.
- Save. Save. Save. Again, this is another one of those things that everybody told me the year or so before I started school, but I wish I had taken more seriously. Most people do not work during business school and have to rely on savings and financial aid for these two years. For me, it has been a huge adjustment to live without a steady income and it would probably be a little easier if I had been more diligent with saving while I was working. Don’t get me wrong, I did save, but looking back, I wish I saved even more. Maybe not taken a few of the trips I took before school and put that money aside to use now. 😊 You’ll still want to enjoy nights out, social activities, and the occasional reward for all your hard work while you’re in school so even when you think you’re saving enough, save a little more—you’ll thank yourself later!
- Give yourself the time and space to adjust once school starts. This is one thing that I don’t remember talking about before arriving on campus, but I think is super important. Whether you are coming from across the world or 30 minutes away, going back to school is a big life change. Many people are leaving lifelong friends, significant others, family, and the comfort of a familiar environment to come to a place that is brand new. You’re also getting back into an academic environment where the pace of things can be quite different from what you’re accustomed to. Everyone adjusts differently to change, so be honest with yourself about how and at what speed you adjust. Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions you’re feeling during this time. If you’re nervous, excited, anxious, or even lonely—that is 100% ok. I felt a mixture of all the above when I first came to Bloomington, and it took the support of my loved ones, encouragement from my new friends, and my own self-assurance to get through. Know that you are not alone on this journey and there are so many people and resources to make sure you are successful here. Also, I can confidently tell you that you will get through it, and everything will be ok!
After reflecting on my first semester of business school, these are the top three things that I wish I had known (or taken more seriously) before beginning my Kelley journey. This experience has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. The Kelley family is exactly that—a family. Having that support has been invaluable and business school would not be the same without it. I hope to continue having these amazing experiences, learning more and more and sharing my learnings to make the process a bit easier for others who are also beginning their journey!