Top Tips for DLMBA Students

Firstly congratulations on being accepted to your MBA course, I have no doubt that you will very much enjoy it, at times it will be painful, you will be tired and you will feel consumed by work, study and life. But trust me it’s worth it, don’t give up and in some cases where you’re overwhelmed just have a week off, it works!

In no particular order here are some tips based on personal experience.

1. Participate in ‘live’ sessions

Warwick Business School have an exceptional online learning system (wbsLive) and the live lectures only add to the learning experience. They are conducted by charismatic and knowledgeable staff. The facility of being able to ask questions as you go through is really good and all students participate, so you get a feel of how many other people are struggling in the same areas as you.

If you can’t attend these when they are on, don’t worry. They are all recorded and available for playback in your own time, if you think you may have missed out on the opportunity to ask a question do not fear, there will be questions asked that you never even thought of!

2. Use your study group wherever possible

At first it’s always a scoping exercise to see who in your group will attend your regular online sessions (via Blackboard) and who will contribute. As I’m sure you have all found out in your career there are some people who always sit quietly in the background, it is easy to begin to feel irritated by this but I urge you not to, life is all about what you give back and if you find yourself leading the sessions or always helping others just think that at some point someone helped you to learn what you know!

That aside your study group is the best place to iron out your thoughts, there are always uncertainties when you study alone and unless you have a colleague or partner that can help, these 15 people will in valuable across the next 12-36 months.

3. Be selective about discussion forums

When you first enter the ‘mywbs’ portal (assuming you are studying at Warwick) you will be faced with a huge amount of information. While I encourage you to get involved, I would urge you not to use this as you first port of call to find answers to problems that others are having, that is what you study group is for.

Don’t get me wrong the forums are a great place of information and there are some exceptionally clever people who will drop an absolute gem in relation to a real world example that will even get the lecturers in debate, these are worth looking out for but hunting for them may take days of your time.

4. Start to think about real world application for your studies

There are many approaches you could take to completing the MBA;

Treat each module like an exam, pass and move on,
Use the MBA as a foundation to make a fantastic network of contacts that you can use for life, or
Use what you are learning and apply it in your work and life.

I would suggest you take a mixture of all three, the first one might seem flippant given the amount of money you are putting into the studies but you have approximately 2 months to learn each module, which at my estimate is probably just short of an A-Level equivalent. The first year modules are compulsory and it’s likely some will interest you more than others, be selective about how much reading around the topics you do and don’t neglect any.

As soon as I started organisational behaviour (OB) module it dawned on me that everything I am learning across other areas can be applied to real world work, I would urge you to start as early as possible on where and how you can do this within your organisation, it will give you a real head start in finding and pinpointing areas you can use to piece together your project in Year 3.

5. Plan, sacrifice and keep on track

I have seen too many people get behind with study and it really adds a lot of pressure in all areas of their lives. You will find that any Business School offering a DL course will provide you with a suggested schedule of study, I would strongly suggest you try to stick to this where possible and get ahead if you can. I managed to get ahead by a couple of weeks once and the feeling was great, it gave me unprecedented amounts of time to read around the topics using external sources.

6. Complete all ‘optional’ assignments!

For me the mid-module assignments were invaluable, they provided a great insight into what you can expect from the official marked assessments. I appreciate that at times you may feel that these can be missed if you have a lot on but when the marked ‘optional’ papers come back you get some great feedback from your tutor and if you are getting good marks you can feel comfortable with how you are getting on.

7. Find an effective way to take notes

Note taking can be crucial to a lot of people, personally I don’t take too many notes and the majority of my learning is done through discussion and practice questions. For me that’s a problem, unlike A-Levels there aren’t a massive back catalogue of previous exam questions you can go over, therefore notes and a detailed understanding of the foundations of the topics are essential.

I will address effective note taking in a separate post as I would like to address it in some detail.

8. Don’t be afraid to invest in Tech or materials

I originally set out with the nervousness that my budget had to cover the fees, residential courses, travel, books etc etc. Obviously this is only a particular concern if you are self-funding, which I am.

The most important advice I can give you is to invest in technology, invest time to research good applications or software and invest money in efficiency. I bought a further 2 screens for my home PC, invested in reading material for subjects I haven’t yet taken and may not take!

Within my post for note taking I will take a detailed look at software and hardware that could make your life easier.

9. Keep your study materials with you wherever possible

For me the most important thing was being able to study wherever and whenever I wanted, the ‘mywbs’ system made it a dream. I could revise at work if things were quiet, I had saved all of my revision notes down as PDF’s and would read them on the train or in the pub.

Don’t underestimate the value of enabling yourself those 15 minutes for studying when you would normally waste time on Facebook or something equally inane, god forbid its not Candy Crush Saga!

10. TAKE TIME OUT!

Finally and the most important of all, don’t burn out! I found that in the first 3 months of study my motivation and excitement was high, so I kept reading and learning as much as I could at every opportunity. Eventually there came a time when I was exhausted, I had officially done too much and not taken regular breaks, so I had a couple of weeks off and focussed on other areas to keep my brain active but just eased up on the reading.

My advise to you all would be put aside regular times during the week to relax with loved ones, friends and family. Even if you aren’t as up to date as you would like do not go for long periods sacrificing everything around you.