The concept of Semester Five and lifelong learning

Giving Semester Five the permanent space on that it deserves.

A typical, full-time MBA is four semesters: one and two in the first year, where you’re tackling your core classes, getting back into student mode and conquering (or truly being tested by) financial accounting, and three and four in your second year, when you’re diving into your fields of interest and preparing for life after graduation. What’s next? After you’ve completed your requirements, secured the degree and that post-MBA job… that fast pace of the bschool life (full-time or part-time) often comes an abrupt halt.

Enter: Semester Five.

The Semester Five mindset is what keeps us learning and trying new things, when there’s no longer a syllabus. It’s how we keep ourselves exploring when there are no more cases to read or regular quizzes to take or Blackboard discussion forums to post in. It’s about cultivating that intellectual curiosity and pursuing the learning and growth that you need beyond the MBA experience.

The concept is one my final semester, capstone management class professor shared with us, to encourage our learning journey, so that we’d think beyond our degrees and titles, and stay curious about the bigger picture and world around us. My professor described the concept in such a simple, clean way, that it was hard not to adopt it for life (and share with family, friends, colleagues and MBAchic. You’ve read about it in our newsletters or even heard about it on a Zoom chat or two). It’s catchy, and when you’re setting goals for your career, family, health, etc, it’s easy to slot in as another category of your life, to ensure you’re always growing and moving out of your comfort zone.

A TEDx Throwback

A bit more on where “S5” comes from in this vintage clip (Oct 2014) from a TEDx talk on the theme of continuous learning. I spoke about the learning journey that came with pursuing an MBA while working and how the two played off of each other in a way that made me stronger than I could have imagined in both arenas. The concept of Semester Five was fresh in my mind and I wanted to share with everyone I could, MBA or not.

(Spot the MBAchic pink peplum top and huge bib necklace! 2014 was an interesting time for us, wardrobe-wise.)

What does your Semester Five look like these days?

Is it a list of niche nonfiction reads that you’re aiming to tackle this year? Perhaps it’s listening to a podcast explaining the global supply chain disruption (loved this one from The Daily)? Maybe it’s being coached by negotiations expert and Columbia Law Professor Alex Carter or learning lookups & advanced pivot tables from Miss Excel inside the MBAchic Library? Whatever your Semester Five looks like, it’s a commitment to continuous learning that we’ve made a pillar of our platform and community here at MBAchic.

Share your #SemesterFive journey with us inside MBAchic, on social, or come teach something to the community. Inertia is a strong force, so my main advice on this from the other side of the MBA is to enjoy post-MBA life, and be open to learning from every one and every thing. Never stop learning — and there’s no telling what else it’ll open up.

Semester Five and continuous learning

Photo by Alexis Brown

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