From Corporate to Classroom: Tips for Adjusting Back to Student Life

Marshall Gray, MBA candidate
More and more, professionals are finding it necessary to return to school to enhance their opportunities for advancement. The decision to return to school as an adult usually hinges on one of two things: the desire to further one’s career within a particular field or the decision to seek a career change and break into a new field.

Whatever the impetus for your decision to return to school, the prospect of transitioning from the corporate world to the realm of academics can be daunting. Whether you’ve been out of school for two years or 10, readjusting to an educational environment has its challenges. Use these tips to help make the change from 9 to 5 to back to school.

Apply your corporate experience to your education. The tactics you’ve learned in your career—information retention, time management, work ethic, interpersonal skills—should inform your approach to your education.

“I have been surprised at how many aspects of being successful in either a corporate or other professional capacity directly translate into being successful in a full-time MBA program,” says Marshall Gray, 2016 Neeley School of Business MBA candidate. “Effective time management, attuned interpersonal skills, a determined work ethic and an ability to use high levels of analytical skills to effectively analyze difficult data and then communicate succinct thoughts all are required in both corporate and academic environments.”

Use your resources. There is an abundance of resources available to MBA students once they get on campus. Take advantage of them. Get to know your professors, and utilize on-campus counseling and development services such as the Neeley Graduate Career Center. Remember: You aren’t in this alone.

Treat your education like it’s your job. Tackle your education like a job change, not a lifestyle change. Dedicate the time and energy to your education that you would to a corporate endeavor.

“From the moment the semester started, I have treated my academic requirements in the same way I would treat a full-time job; that is, I try to adhere to a schedule that would mirror that of a regular job,” says Gray. “Once classes are out for the day, I remain on campus until late afternoon in order to complete my academic preparations. By doing so, my evenings and time off are truly that, time that I can devote to my wife and personal interests. Maintaining this balance is important to help avoid burnout from the high demands of the TCU MBA program.”

Get support from your family. If you’re married, it’s important you have the support of your spouse in your decision to return to school. You must both understand and be willing to accept the time and financial commitments your MBA pursuit requires. As Gray mentioned, use your time on campus wisely so you’ll have time left to spend with family.

Fully commit. Electing to take on a demanding full-time MBA program such as TCU’s is an all-in decision. “Make sure you are completely committed to dedicating the time, effort and work that is required to be successful throughout the program,” says Gray. “The class sizes are small, and active preparation, participation and contribution from every admitted student is critical to the quality of the program.”

Expect stress. MBA programs are tough; there’s no way around it. Be realistic and anticipate the stress that comes periodically throughout your educational experience. Don’t be caught off guard. Talk with alumni and other students to learn tips and tricks for best handling the stress that accompanies a rigorous academic load.

Stay focused on your goals. An MBA program is a temporary commitment that will help you achieve your long-term goals. Know what your goals are and remind yourself of those goals when you become overwhelmed with your workload. Express your goals to your professors and family members so they can step in and remind you what it is you are working toward.

On graduation day, you’ll look back on the challenges you faced during school and see how they helped to prepare you to live the life you desire for yourself and for your family.

Interested in making a change? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program or apply now.
Access Archives >>