Ask any admissions representative or instructor at a business school what an incoming business student needs and chances are you’ll hear a litany of intangible qualities, such as “motivation,” “curiosity” and “time management skills.” Those qualities and many more are certainly beneficial to successfully completing an in-person or online MBA degree, but there are some physical items that all business students should have to not only help them complete their studies, but also get as much as possible out of the business school experience.
When you are preparing to start your MBA classes, be sure to add the following items to your shopping list. Some may seem obvious, others less so, but all of them will help you successfully manage graduate school.
A Newer Computer
It sounds obvious, especially for online students, but a newer model computer with up-to-date software is an absolute necessity. Your school will most likely provide you with a list of hardware and system requirements; pay attention to that list and upgrade your equipment as necessary. A computer that is too old or too slow will hinder your ability to access your online classes, or do the research you need to complete your assignments. Be sure your virus protection is up-to-date as well and includes automatic, daily updates.
In terms of software, you’ll at minimum need a word processing program, a spreadsheet program and a presentation program; Microsoft Office software is the most commonly used package in graduate programs.
Picture this: you’re hard at work on your final presentation at the local coffee shop and your computer battery dies before you have a chance to save changes. Not only will you lose time getting to a cord to plug in the computer, you’ll lose the unsaved changes to your document as well.
Avoid this by keeping an extra battery pack for your computer on hand, if necessary, as well as a working power cord. Invest in a flash drive or external hard drive to store your work for easy transport (and backup). You should also purchase a good quality microphone to record presentations for online courses, if your computer does not have a microphone or it’s of poor quality. If you’re taking in-person classes, purchase an automatic PowerPoint remote to advance slides during your presentations quickly and easily.
Ask anyone who has reached the upper levels of their career for one tip for getting ahead and you’ll probably hear many of them say that showing gratitude and appreciation was an important part of their rise. Business school students should invest in a set of personalized, professional stationery for sending notes; a thank you note to an instructor or interviewer, for example.
Even if you don’t yet have a job, you can order personalized business cards that contain your contact information, including your social media address. Many business programs, including programs like the online Scranton University degrees, offer networking opportunities for students as well as internships and other opportunities for students to interact with contacts that can potentially assist them in their future endeavors. Having business cards with your contact information readily available projects a professional image, even if you are a student.
Sometimes online schools tout the fact that you can attend classes in your pajamas, and much of the time, this is true. However, when you are taking classes in person, and even at times when you’re studying online, you’ll need to dress professionally. For example, if you’re interviewing a business owner for a research project, you want to project an image of professionalism and competence – not sloppy college student. If you’re a full-time, in-person student, invest in a business casual wardrobe as well as one or two professional suits; online students only need professional attire for those occasions when they are meeting with potential contacts or attending networking events.
When you’re shopping for your business school necessities, don’t forget some other important items, such as a dictionary, a good quality calculator and folders or other organizational items to keep all of your research and assignments in order. Combined with all of the personal qualities that helped you get into the program, having these tools on hand will ensure you get as much as possible out of your grad school experience.
About the author: Christina Bateman is a second year MBA student. In her first year, Christina lost a research paper to a hard drive crash hours before its due date, which is the reason she now carries her external hard drive everywhere; something she endorses as a must-have for all students.