We were feeling inspired by a recent article in The Huffington Post, which contained 11 College Life Hacks from Reddit. It was a fun mashup of advice for incoming students from those who had been there, done that, and mostly learned things the hard way. So we put together our own list, compiled from Rady staff, faculty, students and alums—incoming class, consider this your guide to making the b-school experience even better.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. This not only broadens your horizons by exposing you to material/situations you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered, but it expands your skill set and brings a fresh new perspective to the table. It’s where innovation comes from.
- Just say no. Everyone comes to B-School with an idea of what they want to take out of it, although it’ll likely change in some way throughout the experience. While you have to be open to new opportunities, do so with acute time management skills. Between schoolwork, jobs/internships, networking events, and your personal life (all of which are inevitable), you’ll have a full plate and won’t be able to do everything you want (whether it’s productive or playful).
- Get lost. Unless you attended UC San Diego as an undergrad, chances are you’ll get at least a little lost on campus. And that’s OK. Set aside a few minutes or even an hour or two to wander around and get a feel for the campus. You’ll be glad you did this before you’re in a rush to find a building or make it to an appointment on time.
- Park it. Find lot P357 (the lot next to the school) and arrive early to get a space. The next closest lot is Pangea, which is a good 10-15 minute walk.
- Get in the groove. Now is the time to find a routine that works for you, one that allows you to balance your work/studies/life/family in a way that feels healthy and manageable. Set boundaries now that will support your goals for the semester and beyond. Just as important? Make sure you communicate your goals, boundaries and schedule with those close to you so they can support you.
- Work is overrated. Learn a lot, and practice a lot, but at times you’ll have to let other people carry the heavy weight. It’s called management and delegation, and without it you’ll pay the price. After all, why did you go to B-School? Start practicing now.
- Ask questions. Very basic advice, but it bears repeating. Ask as many questions as you can think of the first few weeks. When you’re the new kid on campus, no one expects you to have the answers. Get this out of the way early on so you can feel competent and confident later.
- Get along with your peers, despite differences. Even if you’re the rebel, you’re gonna need friends. Some people come into B-School with the attitude that they have something to prove, as if getting there didn’t prove anything at all. They soon find that what’s more important than making it seem like they’re an all-star is having it be self-evident. And trust me, if you are, it will be.
- Solidify your support. At this point in your life, you undoubtedly have some sort of support system in place that has helped you to get to where you are today. Tap into your supporters early and often, updating them on your progress, goals and current challenges. You’ll need these people to help you through the hard times and it’s always easier to reach out someone if you’ve kept in touch and kept them abreast of your experiences. Remember to share the good times and the bad with your supporters and they’ll be happy to help you through the latter and celebrate with you in the former.
- Find a mentor. Don’t kid yourself…whatever you’re trying to do, you can use some help doing it. Whether it’s a professor or local business-person, someone has experience or a network that you can and should benefit from. But don’t forget, most roads are two-way, and you may need to give a little to get a little.
Many thanks for the contributions from Erwin Milan and Barrett Fisher.
Kristine Page is a social media strategist at the Rady School of Management. When she’s not tweeting, sharing photos on Instagram or writing Rady stories, you can find her sipping iced coffee and expounding on the merits of the latest Facebook changes to anyone who will listen.