Goal Achieved! You Were Accepted to Your MBA Program!
You did it. You competed for acceptance into your chosen MBA program and you won. You set this goal more than a year before. You prepared your impressive application package so you could differentiate yourself from all of the other applicants. You met all of the deadlines, prepared for the interviews, and followed up with the admissions staff appropriately while exhibiting sincere interest and commitment to the program. All of this resulted in the acceptance letter you now hold in your hands.
You Lost Focus!
So you should be feeling terrific, on top of the world. Perhaps you felt some brief elation, but then in a few days you found yourself back in the routine of work and home life. How could this happen? Where is the focus that helped you achieve this goal?
For some, goal attainment is the reward. Once they achieve the goal, it is on to something else. Perhaps the something else is setting another goal. In your case, maybe the new goal is to complete the MBA program. Some would argue this is an appropriate goal. I disagree. I think you should have a longer view, one that focuses on long-term career success and personal satisfaction. Yes, completing the MBA is an all-important step in achieving career success. However, it is one of many steps to navigating achievement of the longer-term goal.
Regroup and Refocus!
The important thing to remember at this point is you now need to recapture the same focus and intensity level you had that resulted in MBA program acceptance. Now it is time to regroup and start over again, clarifying the longer-term goal and identifying the intermediate steps to its attainment.
Accepted! Now What? Answer #1: Regroup & Refocus
Your first scheduled MBA program activity may be 60, 90, 120 or more days away, depending on how early in the admission process you were notified. So what is next?
The “what’s next question” is important. Some of your classmates will view the period as an opportunity to relax. Others will focus on program content. Yet others find themselves caught up in work-life activities and not finding time to think about the program. Unfortunately, my experience is that far too many find themselves in this last category.
To take better advantage of the time you have available, let me ask you to re-frame the question as follows, “If I had 90 days before I start my MBA program, how should I use the time?” To help you answer this question, I will use the MyeEMBA Blog to share a set of prioritized suggestions. I invite you to comment on each suggestion. Perhaps you will have other suggestions or will want to change the priority of those I make.
Now let us get started with what I think is the number one thing to do, regroup and refocus. Remember, competition and differentiation are characteristics of MBA programs. Individuals compete for MBA program admission, for class standing, for recognition, and for jobs. Furthermore, successful competitors differentiate themselves through performance. In many cases, performance is determined by knowledge and skills that are not a part of the MBA program. The time you have available between program acceptance and the program start is a great time to develop some of that knowledge and skills.
To refocus, you must develop a strategy to be outstanding and to differentiate yourself against all the other MBAs. The MBA program and degree will differentiate you from what you are now, but at the end of an MBA program, you are competing with thousands of people who have an MBA, excellent experience, and many other qualities and talents. What will set you apart? Better performance, a deeper understanding of the material, a better network and connections, what? In short, you need to start shifting the focus from admissions to excelling as an MBA student.
A useful starting point may well be to start with the following questions:
- What are my long term career goals?
- What will the MBA program do for my career?
- What are my strengths?
- How will the MBA help me leverage my strengths to further differentiate myself?
- What are my weaknesses?
- How will the MBA help me eliminate my weaknesses to further differentiate myself?
Perhaps there are other questions, if so feel free to add them to this list by posting a comment.
Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP