9 Tips for DBA Success

By Pete | @kingpetey | 28 Apr 2020

There is no doubt that the DBA has numerous benefits to professionals in the business world. However, you have to get to the end of your course and do so effectively for you to enjoy the benefits. The coursework, research, and assignment can be tough and overwhelming, and thus if you don’t plan well you could miss out on the big benefits. Since it’s an advanced degree, the demands will be more, and you will be expected to work harder and smarter. Not to scare you though; if you play your cards right, you will learn a lot and graduate on time. Consider the following tips for DBA success:

Find the Right Business School

If you are not already enrolled in a college, the first step is to find a good one. You can look online or ask for recommendations from DBA graduates you know. For business schools you locate online, ensure you do extensive research to confirm they are legit. Never give out your details or pay money before you check the legitimacy. Ensure you check these three key details:

  • The school background and faculty member profiles
  • Accreditation and rankings 
  • Online reviews 

In addition to the profile information listed on the website, you can go ahead and search the faculty members on sites such as LinkedIn. When searching for online reviews, use the name of the business school accompanied by terms such as DBA reviews or student testimonials. 

Choose Your Path Wisely 

One of the key decisions you will make as a DBA student is choosing a topic for your research project. You have to choose a topic that falls within the subject areas covered by the business school and submit a proposal. If you don’t choose your topic wisely, you may end up giving up along the way or gaining information and skills that won’t be of much help to your future goals. Thus, when choosing your path, consider the following two factors:

  • One, your career goals, both short and long term. If you don’t have goals yet, set them before joining business school. 
  • Two, how working on the selected topic can benefit your career now and in the future. 

Some business areas have serious skills gaps, which can be filled with specific qualifications. For more information on this topic, visit Aston University Online and read their article on how  DBAs can fill global skills gaps, and how this will benefit businesses.

Work, Study, Life Balance

Going back to school adds more responsibilities to your already busy schedule. Therefore, before you sign up for a course, think about how you will balance the three so that you don’t end up ruining relationships in your life, getting sick or stressed out and failing in school. Consider the following tips:

  • Be realistic when signing up. Don’t commit yourself yet until you are sure you will have enough time to dedicate to your studies and the other important things in your life. 
  • Identify things you can cut off to create more time for your studies. You may have to give up some leisure activities and maintain just one or two hobbies until you complete your studies. Cutting off or reducing screen time can also help. This will give you time to study without affecting the time dedicated to other priorities. For instance, if you are a parent with two free hours after work, instead of watching TV for one hour and studying for one hour, you could use the time spent watching TV to study and leave the other hour for your family. 
  • Have a schedule and stick to it. You have to go to work, assignments need to be done on time, your child expects you to show up for their football matches on the weekend, how do you balance all this? Have a schedule and stick to it. Avoid saying you will do something when you have the time. You already have the time; your job is to plan how you will spend each minute of it. And having that plan will allow you to balance the three aspects of your life without giving too much time to one and neglecting another. 
  • Eat right and stay healthy: What happens when you don’t feed your body well? You can increase your risk of contracting diseases, not have the energy you need to work, and you may affect your vital organs such as the brain negatively. And the long term effect is ruined productivity and efficiency, poor health and a less zealous life. Therefore, eat healthy balanced meals, drink lots of water and stay active. 
  • Sleep for 7 to 8 hours each day. These are the recommended hours by sleep experts for optimal health and well-being. 

Have a Designated Study Area

You can do some flashcards during lunch breaks or while making dinner and this is super helpful. However, you need some time, when you will sit down and get serious for 30 minutes to two hours depending on how much time you have to study each day. After making a schedule, the next step is to find that space where you will retreat to when your schedule states you should be studying. It could be your bedroom, the garage, a space in the office, the coffee shop or the library. Ensure that your study space is free from distractions. 

Be Organised 

Being organised in your work and study life has three key benefits. One, you will be more productive when you are an organised person. Two, you will avoid wasting time. And three, you will avoid stress and confusion. For your study life, consider these three things:

  • One, gather your study materials in advance and ensure they are well arranged. For books and other stationery, you could get a desk with drawers for storage, some shelves, and folders. 
  • Have a plan on how and when you will handle each task. Prioritise based on complexity and urgency. 
  • Keep your study environment tidy. When the environment is clean and tidy, your concentration will be much better. In addition to being a distraction, clutter and dirt can also cause you to feel stressed. 

Think about Your Writing 

Poor referencing, grammatical errors and poor flow are some of the mistakes that should be avoided when submitting your proposal and other assignments. To avoid these:

  • Take time to familiarise yourself with the writing styles you are expected to adhere to when submitting your work.
  • Work with a writer or editor when writing your final documents. However, note that you should do your work; others should only help with the fine-tuning and checking for errors.
  • Read papers done by others. This will help in sharpening your writing skills. 

Have a Financial Plan 

A DBA is an advanced degree and thus it costs money. And, considering you will be in school for three to six years, it’s wise to plan financially in advance. When making a financial plan:

  • Check how much business school will cost for all the years
  • Make an estimate for all your expenses
  • Identify your key sources of income. 
  • Check whether your sources of income will be able to cover your expenses and business school tuition. 
  • Find other ways to pay for business school. Some key ones include applying for student loans, getting a scholarship, and checking if your employer offers any support to further your education. If you choose a student loan, ensure you have a viable payment plan. 
  • Set up an emergency fund

Network and Learn from Others

Your own research is good and it can teach you a lot. However, it’s super important to connect with others and see life from their perspective. Below are some of the people you can network with as a DBA student:

  • Your course instructors: Learn from their experiences, ask them questions and maybe you could ask one to be your mentor
  • Other DBA students: Share your experiences, discuss issues, ask for their help and help them when they need you. 
  • DBA graduates: Learn from them and maybe seek a mentor
  • Professionals who are in the same field as you: Consult with them when making key decisions

Be a Smart Student 

Since the degree directly affects your career success, ensure that you get as much from it as possible. Don’t just aim to graduate and get a title, but focus on learning things that will grow you as a professional. Some of the key things that smart students do include:

  • Studying throughout the semester and taking time to digest the concepts. Studying every day, or a few days per week, is better than accumulating all the work and doing it in a hurry when deadlines are approaching. Cover your coursework earlier.
  • Don’t have a negative attitude when you get feedback from the instructors and advisors. A smart student will take criticism as an opportunity to learn and be better. 
  • Ask a lot of questions where you don’t understand.
  • Don’t miss lectures, workshops, or any other event. If you miss an appointment with your teacher due to something unavoidable, let them know and get them to reschedule. 

Above are some of the key tips that can be helpful for DBA success. Know that much is expected from you, plan wisely and after you make plans ensure you follow through. 

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