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Preparing for your first semester


As many of you are preparing for school to start in as few as 3 weeks (USC starts international orientation on the 21st of July), now is a good time to start preparing as you ramp up into the school year. I moved out to LA from Washington DC just over a year from when I’m writing this post.

Here are some of my recommendations as things are getting closer, and I hope some of my fellow current MBAs have more suggestions:

1) Relax before classes start: Give yourself plenty of time between when you leave your job and when school starts as possible (this is assuming you are doing FTMBA programs). When school starts up, you will be extremely busy and thank yourself for having some relaxation time before it starts.

2) Move in at least a week early: Following up on giving yourself plenty of time: Try to move into your location at least a week, preferably two before classes start. Moving can be stressful and you want to give yourself leeway in case your stuff gets delayed, something is wrong in the apartment, or you are moving in with new roommates. Getting these outside stresses out of the way early will help you enjoy your first few weeks more. It’ll also allow you to find your go to food spot near home and you will be able to go out with your classmates during the first week without feeling rushed to fix things at home first.

3) Significant Others: If you haven’t yet, make sure to sit down with your partner and discuss expectations about the upcoming year (in particular the first semester). If they really don’t believe it’s going to be that busy, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Case Studies & Cocktails and check out pages 200-206. It has a REALLY good letter to all B-School Significant Others that will let them see it from a 3rd party point of view. My wife didn’t fully understand the time commitment until reading that chapter. Make sure that you schedule out a date day with them and let your teammates during school understand your limitations around that. Additionally, bring them to as many events as they feel comfortable going to. It’s a great way to get them to buy into your experience and bond with your classmates. It’ll also allow them to connect with other SigOs who are doing the same thing. (If your SigO is moving with you, try and engage the career center to help them find employment as well. The career center is there to help you, and if they can do a little work to help your SigO it will pay off for you in the long run)

4) Pre-term Events: Go to as many pre-term events as possible. If someone is throwing a happy hour, try and show up to it. If no one is, schedule one yourself (or another fun style event). You aren’t going to be the only person nervous/excited about classwork starting up again and meeting new people. This is a great way to connect with your classmates and start forming those lifelong bonds prior to classes starting. This will also give you a glimpse of what to expect during the semester. (Make sure to wear some school related swag so that people can recognize that you are part of the group).

5) Start stocking up on supplies: Make sure that you have your school supplies ready early. It may be anywhere from 2-10 years since the last time you were in a classroom, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. I’ll create a separate thread for supply lists that hopefully my fellow Ambassadors can add onto.

6) Prep for career services: You’ve already gotten in, so I’m assuming your resume is good enough for admission standards; however, internship application standards can be a different beast. Engage your career center early and get your resume and cover letter up to their standards (this may be several rounds of edits or you may be good to go). Even if you are in Tech/Entertainment, there are a few very early deadline (Amazon, Google, and Blizzard’s applications are due in early-mid Fall.)

You are about to experience a whirlwind ride of deadlines, academics, forced socialization, tailgates, interviews, and much more. You’ve earned it, so get ready to enjoy It!


Great tips, thanks for sharing. Let’s see what other MBAs have to say…

Also, here’s the Amazon link to Case Studies & Cocktails.


Many thanks for this, @Steve_Huber ! The “forced socialization” had me laughing.


Thanks for the tips! I downloaded the Case Studies & Cocktails eBook and read the letter to SO’s that you mentioned Steve - I think my partner will appreciate it (and by inference, so will I during the course…). I’ll give the rest of the book a read if I can, too.

My incoming class (Oxford, starting Sep '17), has been extremely active on Telegram discussing Visa applications, accommodation, colleges, consoling frustrations with regards to all of these items, sharing photos from pre-term meet ups across the world and generally getting to know each other. This has made everything extremely less daunting, and is enjoyable too. I feel like a lot of us will know each other quite well by the time we meet in Sep!

Career prep has been a huge focus leading up to the start. Being a one year programme, we really have to hit the ground running in that regard. Lots of pre-work.

Good luck to all admits!



Now that several of you have finished up first semester, I’d love to hear thoughts on what you didn’t realize you needed until you started (or what you thought you needed but really didn’t)

Podcast ideas and unanswered questions