Helpful Advice

Make the most of your business school experience

At The Consortium, we’re committed to connecting you with the opportunity to succeed as you work your way through business school and your career. The resources on this page will help you manage your finances, build your career and control your life.

Balancing Life with Business School

Business school provides you with many opportunities to advance both your knowledge and experience in academic areas related to business and management. In addition to rigorous coursework and academic activities, you will be inundated with co-curricular and extracurricular activities involving career services (interview preparation, resume review, company presentations, etc.), alumni relations (networking events), and various academic-related clubs and organizations (affinity associations, major and specialization clubs and activities, etc.). You will discover that these out-of-class experiences are just as valuable as — or, in some cases, more valuable than — any in-class activity. A spouse and family can add to the challenge of managing your time and commitments.

Here are some tips to help you better manage your time as you begin your transition into business school:

  • Take an inventory of what is important in your academic/work and personal life.
  • Identify your key stakeholders (classmates, faculty members, spouse, children, etc.) and the commitments or expectations associated with them.
  • Keep lines of communication open with stakeholders.
  • Build a strong network of support among stakeholders and others who believe in your abilities.
  • Keep a consistent schedule, and be sure to use and update your calendar.
  • Learn when to say “no.”
  • Make sure to build in “decompression” time.

Helpful links:

  1. Mind Tools
  2. Study Guides and Strategies
  3. Franklin Covey

Career Search Suggestions

Corporate recruiters learned long ago that the education delivered by MBA programs — such as those represented in The Consortium — makes graduates of these programs an almost certain investment when it comes to finding management talent. And they are so confident of the abilities of Consortium graduates that they are willing to begin the recruitment process even before you complete your first MBA class.

The Consortium’s Annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (the “OP”) provides a number of opportunities to network both informally and formally with corporate recruiters. Each interaction creates an impression of you in the recruiter’s mind. Some recruiters even interview at the OP for internships that will not begin for another 12 months.

This intense focus on careers provides an amazing opportunity but also creates a very real risk: Students who are not able to clearly convey their priorities in the career search will appear unfocused and may lose out on opportunities in the process.

Recruiters are looking for graduates who are self-aware and have clear career interests and passions. If you are able to clearly convey an understanding of the skills required of you and the environment that best matches those abilities and your background, you will make the positive first impression that’s critical to securing your first job.

Here are some tips to help you begin preparing now for your career search:

  • Conduct your self-assessment, and start evaluating what careers are the best match for you.
  • Arrive at the OP with at least a preliminary understanding of the careers offered by the corporate sponsors; the recruiter’s survey will be helpful in this regard, as well as research you can do via your school’s career databases.
  • Reach out to students at your new school — those who just completed their first year to ask about their experience at the OP and second-year students and alumni who have interned or worked at firms you are interested in to ask for their input on your career search.
  • Attend the workshops, breakfasts and career panels at the OP to help refine your understanding of the career that you would like to pursue.
  • Relax and be yourself. If you are prepared with knowledge of the positions that recruiters offer as well as your own skills and how the two match, you will be able to confidently and comfortably interact with the recruiters during the OP.
  • Be gracious and considerate of your fellow Consortium students. There truly is not competition for the positions offered by the recruiters. They have ample opportunities, and the image you create of being supportive and inclusive of your classmates will create a more positive image of you and of The Consortium.

Helpful Links:

  1. Career Leader self-assessment tool (your school may have its own link)
  2. The Wet Feet and Vault guides for information on various careers (your school’s career center may offer additional access via its site)
  3. Link to the recruiter survey of what companies are coming (coming soon)

Managing Your Finances 

Consortium students may have the good fortune of receiving a fellowship or other scholarships to help pay for their educational expenses. However, students have other financial obligations beyond the cost of tuition that need to be considered when preparing for graduate school.

Taking steps now will prevent you from having to worry about covering living expenses as a student. The financial transition from work life to student life may be eased by careful planning, ultimately enabling you to have a sharper focus on your academics and fewer worries about financial issues.

Here are 10 tips to help you financially prepare for graduate school:

  1. Retrieve your credit report at no cost by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. By law, you are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Unless you want to run a comparison report by retrieving all three major credit reports at one time, you may want to consider retrieving each report at various intervals throughout the year.
  2. Clear up any disputed or outdated information on your credit reports before enrolling in graduate school. Contact the agency that shows the incorrect or outdated information.
  3. If you have running balances on your credit cards, stop using them and, if possible, try to pay down credit card balances.
  4. Read and understand your school’s financial aid website. These sites often have a wealth of information for students, provide financial aid contact information and are designed to answer most questions students have about educational financing.
  5. Avoid over-borrowing by developing a monthly budget and sticking to it. Often, students borrow the maximum loans offered in their financial aid package. Don’t automatically borrow what the school is offering in loans. Strategize about ways in which you may be able to live for less than the school’s published cost of attendance. For example, consider living with a roommate so that you only have to pay half of the rent.
  6. Cut corners whenever possible by taking advantage of discounts on products and services and using coupons for food and other living expenses. Search online for companies that offer student discounts. Your school may even have a list of local companies near campus that offer student discounts.
  7. If you have a car, consider selling it. You may find that you don’t need a car on campus and can get around by using public transportation or shuttles offered by your school. The savings in gasoline and insurance costs may be considerable, and these costs generally are not allowable for determining the amount of a student’s loan eligibility.
  8. Prepare for climate changes prior to starting school by taking advantage of sales on seasonal clothing. Waiting until the last minute may result in having to pay higher prices.
  9. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. Often, the more you save before entering graduate school, the less you have to borrow in student loans.
  10. Review the tax benefits of education here in order to understand how you may be eligible for tax credits and/or tax deductions when you file your federal income tax return.
Loan Type Maximum Annual Eligibility Credit Check Required?
Federal Direct Stafford Loan Cost of attendance as determined by the school less other financial aid including such things as scholarships, fellowships, tuition/fee stipends, employer reimbursement; capped at $20,500 per academic year No
Federal Direct Grad Plus Loan Cost of attendance as determined by the school less all other financial aid, including loans Yes
Private Education Loan Cost of attendance as determined by the school less all other financial aid, including loans; maximum annual amount varies by lender Yes