Going to Grad School: Advice for Prospective Students

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Ray Serzanin, MBA Candidate ('15)
The decision to go to graduate school isn’t one to make lightly. It’s a choice that takes research, careful planning and a clear idea of future goals.

If you are considering getting your MBA, seeking advice from current and former students who have been in your shoes is a good way to determine if it's the right step for you.

Annie Agarwal and Ray Serzanin will enter their second year at the Neeley School of Business this fall, with anticipated graduation in 2015. Lacey Hammons is a 2011 TCU MBA graduate now working as Director of Physician Recruitment at United Surgical Partners International. We asked what advice they have for prospective MBA students; here is what they had to say.

Learn to balance school and personal life

Learning to create balance between school and personal life is key, says Agarwal. As a student, “you have to learn to separate yourself from your studies and set aside time for other things,” she says.

Agarwal was married before she decided to go back to grad school and says the support she has received from her husband has made a big impact on her success thus far. “It’s good to have a person to remind you that getting your MBA isn’t everything, and there are other important things in life, too,” she says.

In addition to balancing school and personal life, Agarwal recommends getting involved on campus. “It’s not all about your grades, but also about how involved you are,” she says. “Your MBA experience is really what you make of it, so take advantage of all of the resources that are available to you during your education.”

Know what you want to be

Hammons, who has been out of school for three years, says the best advice she can give prospective students is to “know what you want to be when you grow up before you go to get your MBA.”

“You need to know your goal before going in,” she says. “Know your niche and have a vision of where you’ll be in two, five or 10 years.”

Having an idea of the direction you want to take with your career before you start grad school can increase your marketability once you graduate, says Hammons. “It allows you to choose your courses wisely.”

Understand the time commitment

Before beginning his MBA program, Ray Serzanin says he never really used a calendar. That has changed. “A lot of getting your MBA is about planning,” he says. “That calendar has saved me quite a few times now.”

Planning will help you stay on top of your studies and projects during school, but it can also help ease the transition into grad school, especially for students with spouses and families.

“It’s important to sit down with your spouse and talk about the time commitment,” Serzanin says. “Communicate beforehand and know what you and your spouse are in for.”

Despite the sizable time investment, returning to school is not something to shy away from. “When it’s done, it will be well worth it,” he says.

And sometimes, you just have to put down the books and watch TV with your loved ones. “Your family is going through it with you. Let them know they’re appreciated and that you haven’t forgotten about them.”
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