If this is your first part-time degree the first thing you realize is how different it is from your full-time degrees. Especially, if your last full time degree was an undergraduate one. The immense time pressure and the surprising desire to learn more than care about grades is something alien to most undergrads, including me. But a PTMBA’s rewards are so directly correlated to what you put into it. Early in to my degree, I realized that time was going to be a serious factor – I have a full time job, a house and two kids. Did I mention my ever supportive wife too?
I tried all kinds of things. At the beginning, I would wake up at 5am every morning to study/do homework. That didn’t quite last. Then came the late night study sessions. They were conducive to doing problem sets but not for reading cases – they put me to sleep even faster! In the end it turned out to be a combination of things – taking short breaks at work to read cases, quickly identifying the key ideas in the cases and over the span of a couple of days I would get through a case. Problem sets were still a night time activity. The approach to case studies cannot be overstated. I am a slow reader but the PTMBA made me a much faster, wiser reader. Don’t sweat the details, yet recognize what details add value. I did develop a knack to identify ideas that I had not seen before. Every core class taught me something different but the electives incrementally built on them. Thus, elective readings went by a little faster as I was able to recognize concepts albeit at a more rudimentary level.
Incremental learning is possible when courses are interconnected. I have tried to ensure my electives reinforced ideas I enjoyed during the core classes. And, if you are building an expertise, say in Finance, then the sequence of courses matters as well. I was lucky to have consulted with Prof. Triantis, who gave me fantastic advice. Pick a professor you are close to and seek their advice. In the end use your time wisely. Don’t burn out and enjoy what you learn.
Rohit is a Senior Systems Engineer at Hughes Network Systems and the founder of the public policy advocacy group Young India, Inc.