The rigors of business school are unavoidable, but they can be prepared for, with an wide range of courses you can do before your MBA.
I had to take three primer courses in business statistics, accounting, and Excel, before my MBA started. These were offered by my business school, BYU Marriott School of Business, but there are plenty of online courses you can pursue before joining an MBA program.
While it’s easy to enjoy the calm before the MBA storm and take time off before starting school, it’s also important to spend some time preparing and practicing topics you’re less familiar with.
From navigating your way around Microsoft Excel to getting to grips with foundational MBA math, the business school experience is so much better when you don’t have to spend time learning things you could have before school started!
Here’s six courses to do before your MBA:
Top Pre-MBA Courses
Excel is where you will spend hours upon hours while in school. I think Excel is one of the most fascinating tools ever created, but there is a learning curve.
If you don’t come from a professional background that required use in Excel, sign up for Excel courses today. Do NOT go into school without a good foundation in Excel.
2. Excel Macro
OK, this is similar to the last topic, but most people who know Excel probably still haven’t used Macros within the program.
VBA (Visual Basic Application) Macros allow you to automate tedious work and while they also have their own steep learning curve to master, they will offer enormous benefits during your program. There are countless YouTube videos on VBA programming and Excel Macro to help you get started.
I took two accounting courses during my undergraduate degree; they were basic but still challenging. I am very thankful to have had that exposure!
Accounting is often referred to as the language of business. If you get to school without a decent understanding of it, you will likely feel like you have been dropped into a foreign country without any understanding of basic conversational nuances. I don’t know about you, but that is a terrifying thought to me.
There is too much to think about in business school—do yourself a favor and put plenty of time and attention into learning this language beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it once classes start.
Coursera: Managerial Accounting Fundamentals
4. Business Statistics
Business schools are ramping up their focus on analytics and business statistics within their MBA courses.
Every business manager needs to have a sound understanding of these topics to be effective in their role. The sooner you start, the better you’ll be able to grasp the concepts when they are actually being taught.
5. MBA Math
There are several pre-MBA courses and certifications in math available to you, so take a look around online to see which would be best for you.
I did not take an MBA math course prior to starting school and I regret it! The GMAT quantitative section alone does not cover many of the topics MBA math does—with math concepts that span across finance, accounting, economics, statistics, and more—so it’s a good idea to pursue foundational MBA math courses before joining an MBA.
This comes as a recommendation from a student one year ahead of me in the BYU MBA program. I reached out to her because I was interested in her background and we chatted about best practices for preparing to start school.
BYU has a core set of seven classes every incoming student takes in their first semester. She told me that the most difficult ones were Finance, Accounting, and Operations Management.
To help with operations, her recommendation was to listen to The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt on Audible. You can read it, but the Audible version is very well done and includes different voice actors for each character.
The book is written like a novel and teaches the concepts of operations by following the perspective of a plant manager whose facility is failing. This is another topic that many haven’t even touched in their professional careers. The Goal is a quick and easy way to overcome that.
Our MBA Newcomer, Ryan Price, is the host and founder of MBA Secrets and starts his full-time MBA at BYU Marriott School of Business in the fall. We follow Ryan through his MBA journey, giving you the inside scoop on life as an MBA student.