Serious Prep: A Note to the Incoming Class of 2015

July 23, 2013

Note: This is a post directed at the members of the Class of 2015, soon to be arriving on campus for their orientation. However, if you’re applying to be a member of 2016 or later, you may still find it useful. We, the collective 2014 bloggers (big thanks to Dennis, Heather, and Yulia!), would like to welcome you to SOM with some unsolicited advice. There are only so many days left before you start orientation, and before you know it we’ll be on campus strutting around like we own the place. That is, until we all move into a new building, and then it’s just like 1st Year all over again. Until then, we wanted to provide you with some things you could do now to prepare yourself for the unrelenting whirlwind that is the SOM MBA experience. Using some of our finest brains, we’ve come up with these words of wisdom, (in random, stream-of-consciousness order):

  • Become an efficiency expert. Try to respond to every e-mail that requires a response within 36 hours. Then delete it or file away. Keep a clean inbox.

  • Start phasing out your favorite TV shows and magazines so you’ll miss them less when you don’t have time to read/watch. On the flip side, see a lot of movies this summer, because you probably won’t see one for 12 months.

  • Get your ZipCar membership before you get to campus, because you’ll want it to make trips to IKEA, Costco, Target, and Stop & Shop. Yale has student discounts, and it is a cheap option if you don’t own a car.

  • Do you have any crazy costumes/clothes at home? Please don’t throw them away. B-School is full of fun theme parties, and if your costume doesn’t fit one of the already-planned themes, you can always host your own party!

  • Also – if you have a favorite thrift shop, now is the time to buy crazy clothes. Some of our theme parties have included:

    SOM Spring Formal - Derby Theme! SOM Spring Formal - Derby Theme!

    • Tight & Bright (we'll leave this for your imagination!)

    • The SOM Derby

    • Dress Your Vest

    • The Christmas Luau

  • Start putting things into your calendar. All things. Every little thing.

  • Figure out what time of day you get sleepiest. Avoid taking classes at that time.

  • Living alone? Plan to host some dinner parties, or get another house to adopt you so you stay connected to the community. Live with roommates and like socializing? Invite your friends over or host random, unassociated groups of people. Strangely, Hurricane Sandy was our first opportunity to do this, and this is where we made some of our closest friends.

  • Take a moment to inventory your clothing needs – New Haven winters can be a doozy for the unprepared. Snow/rain boots are essential not because it snows/rains all the time, but because of the sheer amount when it does.

  • Speaking of apparel – you are required* to own at least 4 Yale-branded pieces of clothing. Choose the ones that look best on you. (*not actually)

  • How good are you at reading on the treadmill? We’d recommend starting with a large-text Kindle on 4 miles/hour and working up from there. Then you’ll be able to work out and do your homework at once!

  • Curate your own group of news sources based on your interests. Obviously The New York Times, WSJ, and FT are good, but look at other sources – WIRED, The New Yorker, Atlantic, even Gawker and New York Magazine offer great insights. This will make class more interesting, and you’ll have more of a reason to e-mail your professors to talk about classroom topics.

  • Get good at social media. Get reeeeeeeal good.

  • Try booking a day where you have consecutive planned activities from 8:30am – 1am the following day. That would probably be a 6.5 on our 1 to 10 scale of school intensity. Rate the experience for yourself, and then adjust your expectations accordingly.

  • Pick up/download Thinking Fast and Slow, Nudge, Getting to Yes, and Change By Design if you’re looking for beach reading material. You’ll be halfway to Distinction in at least 4 classes!

  • Now is the time to pick up some ‘Never Done Before’ sports (crew, skiing, ice hockey, rowing, polo, marathon biking, to name a few). You have some time to gain a small advantage over your peers, and not to kill yourself learning one or all of these activities that you thought you’d never do. Until you came to Yale.

  • You will never, ever again in your life be in a better position to start your own company, or at least develop a long-cherished idea into a living project. The amount of connections, peer review, sharp feedback, funding exposure, mentor advice, and other resources will overwhelm you, so start thinking about your concept and come prepared to take over the world.

  • Amazon.com Student – it’s amazing! Amazon Prime (1-2 day free shipping) for free for the next 6 months - you can set your calendar invite to go remind you when the 6 months are approaching to discontinue if you don't want to commit after!

  • Take the time now to see what inspires you – people, ideas, quotes, or experiences and make sure you keep that close when you’re caught in the sea of endless possibilities… It’s always good to be in touch with your core!

  • Enjoy your summer before SOM. Relish the time you have now prior to school to relax, pack, and enjoy time with family, friends, and co-workers.

  • Start taking long flights. Once you get here, you’ll want to form an alliance with your classmates to get you to and from the airport. Embrace red-eye flights, especially if you’re from the West Coast.

  • Stop eating Thai food and pizza right this instant. You will have plenty of both in New Haven, (and the pizza cannot be beat).

  • Think about where you get your energy from: From other people? Being outside? Exercise? A good book? Not only should you stock up on those things now, but you should get in the habit of forcing yourself to make time to recharge even if it doesn’t fit into your overall schedule.

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About the author

Nate Wong