4 Questions to Ask Your First MBA Professor

This post is part of our 2017 Back-to-School Series. Throughout the month of August, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for back-to-school advice, tips, and tricks for all ages.

When you start business school, you will face a significant adjustment. In addition to learning new names, building relationships with your classmates, exploring new companies and industries, and developing your career, you will also be taking graduate-level courses with professors who want to help you succeed. Initiating a conversation with your professor shows that you are interested in the class and that you value his or her advice. Questions to ask your first MBA professor can include why he or she decided to go into this field, strategies for success you can use in this course, and any advice regarding graduate school.

Curious what you should ask your MBA professor to get a dialogue started? Here are four questions to ask your first MBA professor:

Ask your MBA professor why he or she decided to pursue this area of teaching

Whether it’s accounting, economics, operations, or statistics, your MBA professor has dedicated years of study to a particular subject in higher education. Hearing his or her story will help you learn more about him or her as an instructor, as well as more about his or her approach to teaching the course. It will also give you an informed perspective about that area in relation to the larger business world. For instance, you might gain insight into how contributing to local nonprofit organizations assists the public perception of global finance corporations. This conversation may either lead you to a new subject to explore more thoroughly in your MBA program, or it may encourage you to pursue other interests that are better suited to your goals.

[RELATED: 4 Things to Accomplish in Your First Semester of Business School]

Ask your MBA professor what strategies you should use to get the most out of your class experience

By asking this question, you are demonstrating to your professor that you are prepared to succeed. You are ready to learn insights that may not come from simply glancing at the outline of the class. As your professor advises you on strategies, listen to which ones are emphasized so you learn which techniques are preferred. In addition, note which strategies might work best for you, and try them out over the course of the semester.

Ask your MBA professor which elective courses you should take based on your career interests

Your professor has knowledge of not only his or her own area of expertise, but also that of colleagues’ (i.e. other MBA professors at your school). Even though your professor may teach marketing, he or she might recommend that you take a class in:

  • mergers and acquisitions

  • venture capital finance

  • and so on.

Your professor will have an idea of which courses benefited past students in your situation. But don’t expect your professor to do all the work for you. Familiarize yourself with the electives available, especially those that you might want to take. Show that you have done your research by asking for your professor’s opinion of specific courses, and how they may help you achieve your career goals.

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Ask your MBA professor what he or she wishes they had known when in graduate school

Most of your professors will have attended graduate school, if not a PhD program as well. They know what you are going through. Learn from their successes and their mistakes. Your MBA professor can help you navigate the wealth of information coming at you on a daily basis. Listen to how he or she forged a path through postgraduate education, and apply those lessons to your own journey through business school.

Your MBA professor is one of the multiple staff members assigned to your business school program to help you succeed. Introduce yourself before your class starts to establish a relationship. View your MBA professor as your instructor in a specific subject, and also as a potential mentor. Your MBA professor can teach you how to find success in your business school curriculum and throughout your future career.

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