Unbelievably, Darden is already deciding which students will be in the next admitted class. The admissions office asked the student bloggers to take a crack at advice for incoming students. If only I had 20/20 hindsight….here are a few pragmatic tips for the next 6 months before coming to Darden.

  1. Get physical. Guess what? You’ll need lots and lots of physical endurance. Get in the best shape of your life. Boost your immune system, take a multi-vitamin. Most First Years got sick at least once during the first semester, and your body will do a much better job of carrying you through the demands of Darden if it’s fit and healthy. Conversely, begin to train yourself to function normally on 6 or fewer hours of sleep. That way, by the time you get here, you’ll be super-fit and ready for short, short nights and looooooooooooong days.
  2. Get greedy. Gorge yourself on time with your family and friends. Tell them what you love most about them. Help them understand you’re about to do something really hard – and you may be missing in action for a while, but you love them dearly.  
  3. Go wild! Do at least a few of the wild, pie-in-the-sky things you’ve always meant to do but kept putting off. Skydive, climb mountains, learn trapeze, whatever. Take a few chances, do something that scares you.
  4. Be encore-worthy. Just because you’re about to depart your professional life, do not neglect to network with your current colleagues, peers, contacts. Develop an exit strategy. Tell them why you’re getting an MBA, and what you think you want to do post-Darden. Ask them for advice, pointers, survival tips. Get to linking on LinkedIn. If you believe the statistics, more than 70% of job opportunities are not posted, and you’ll need a job when you’re done here. Talking to people now will help down the road – especially if they’re impressed at your final curtain call.
  5. Housekeeping: go ahead, rebalance your 401k. Take your car for service. Send your winter dress coats to get dry-cleaned. Clean your sock drawer. Make sure your finances are in order, and figure out all the things you do with your disposable income and can do without once you’re on a student budget. (Oh, pedicures, how I miss you!) Point is, take care of all the boring stuff now, while you have time.
  6. Numbers 101: take community college courses in both Excel and Accounting if you have no training, background, or workplace experience with either. I promise, it’ll save you buckets of frustration once you get here. I’m still learning thrilling new keyboard shortcuts (CTRL+X, anyone?) and it would have been so useful to know some of them before coming.
  7. Lastly, take time off. Take a least a month to move, get settled, relax, read, play, eat, enjoy. A professor of mine in college once told me that the point of recreation is literally to “re-create” yourself – take a long weekend or a long month of vacation time to do so. My last pre-Darden trip was an amazing weekend of recreating in San Francisco, including a jaunt via ferry to Tiburon. I remember basking in the sun with good company and a glass of wine and doubly savoring the relaxation since I knew Darden was right around the corner. Enjoy it!