Stay on top of the latest

Advice, tips and insights from the
admissions dream team.

Table of Contents

5 Things to Do Before Starting Your MBA Program

before you start MBA

How do you want to feel when your head hits the pillow after your first day as an MBA candidate on campus?

Thrilled to enter a new chapter of your life surrounded by fascinating people and big ideas, while appropriately daunted by the scope of challenge you’ve undertaken? Or will your elation be dimmed a bit because you’re still resolving pesky details you’d neglected to anticipate or tend to before arriving?

Here’s the thing: You can enter the MBA program relaxed and prepared, or you can parachute into the first day of school and feel totally overwhelmed. Many students gear up for their first term as they would for a much-anticipated getaway trip: book the flight and hotel, but read the guidebook on the plane and figure it out when you hit the ground. While this level of improvisation makes for fun vacations, it can have the opposite effect  for first-year MBA candidates.

Here we’ve gathered a few recommendations for things you might not have thought of that, if addressed now, will  feel prepared on day one. We advise going in with a couple of connections, an updated resume, copy of your birth certificate and updated immunization records – to name a few essentials.

Top Tips for Arriving Ready on Day 1 for Your MBA

Tie up loose ends

If you’re moving  a new city to embark upon your MBA, you have a million things to do to relocate. Make sure you also look ahead and plan time to clear the decks at work for a smooth and stress-free exit. Conclude any major projects that you’re working on, so you can really enter this program with a clean slate. Make sure you hand over projects so you don’t leave colleagues in the lurch; that’s not how you want valued colleagues to remember you. If you serve in an outside organization, hand over the reins of your leadership there as well. And don’t forget to thank the recommenders who helped you get admitted!

Have personal documents updated and in order

Is your passport within six months of expiration? Do you have a copy of your birth certificate on hand? Copies of bank statements available? Identify and collection any documentation you might need for potential financing, housing, or transportation interactions you’ll need. Your school may require proof of vaccination or other health records. Do you have those handy? You don’t want to be rushing around trying to get everything set when you’re already on site. If you’re planning to go early to find a place to live, make it as easy as possible.

Read the orientation materials thoroughly

Life will come at you very fast once your program starts. And in the interim between acceptance and that day when you arrive on campus, your school will likely ask for information and share a lot of important details. Take time to read it in advance and reply when needed. You’ll want a firm understanding of what will be expected of you the first month. You don’t want to be surprised and have to scramble because you saved it for airplane reading.

Update your resume

Many incoming MBA students find themselves surprised at how quickly they find themselves caught up in job recruiting activities. In fact, your post-MBA job search begins before you even walk into the first day of classes. Be ready; refresh your resume so the tone is geared towards future employers, versus the MBA admissions committee. Make any updates to reflect any changes since you submitted your resume with your application. While your career plans will inevitably evolve as you spend time at school, you’ll want to arrive prepared to respond to potential opportunities and adapt as needed.

As for the airplane reading, consider picking up that copy of Blue Ocean Strategy or any other must-read you’ve been meaning to get to. There will be a mountain of required reading of the econ/finance/accounting variety once classes are underway, so putting yourself into the mindset will help you feel prepared when you arrive.

Start developing your network

Ideally, you want to arrive on campus with a network that you can continue to cultivate during your studies. Instead of trying to connect with everybody in your class at the same time upon arrival, start by identifying a smaller circle of individuals that you might have affinity with (e.g. Anyone else from your hometown, interested in social tech, from the same undergrad, etc.) You can start reaching out to certain clubs you want to get involved with and start making connections with current students in these clubs. This is particularly useful if you’re entering a program of 800 students for a year, as early outreach can make the relationship building more manageable.

With a firm grasp of what to expect, the details covered, and some groundwork laid for the relationships you hope to nurture, the first week of b-school can be the start of an exhilarating epic adventure.

Onward to Getting the Most from Your MBA Experience

I highly recommend this 1-hour discussion with MBA expert coaches Wendy Metter and Fortuna’s Michael Malone, who focus on how you can develop a holistic and strategic approach to your upcoming MBA experience. Michael and Wendy explore themes of intentional decision-making, staying true to your values and remaining open to possibilities, and prioritizing your time as you balance the academic, social, career, and significant other/family/community elements of your MBA program. (They also have some great book recommendations.)

Fortuna Admissions Co-Founder and Director Judith Silverman Hodara is former Wharton head of Admissions. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.


Share this article on social media

Sign up now for a free 30-minute discovery session to get personalized feedback on your profile and learn how Fortuna can help you secure admission to your dream school!

Free Consultation