The Covid-19 pandemic has opened us up to the possibility of online learning. Although it was considered subpar or inadequate only a few years ago, now we know that if designed and followed properly, the online medium can be just as useful for learning as offline.
This development is especially benefitting career-oriented courses like MBA. Many people who pursue an MBA are already employed or own a business. It is immensely helpful for them to get the opportunity to study while continuing to work. According to Fortune, the number of accredited US schools with fully online MBA programs increased by 85% from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
But studying entirely online can be a very solitary process. People don’t have frequent contact with qualified professors or motivated classmates who can help them keep going. Therefore here is a list of only four things that you need to keep in mind to ensure that you stay on your path and complete your courses successfully.
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Studying from home can be challenging. There are simply too many distractions to divert your attention. This problem can increase if you are tired after a full day of work. Therefore prepare ahead of time with a timetable or a routine. Decide when you are going to study, when you are going to take breaks and when you are going to be done for the day.
Preparing a routine alone is not enough. You need to make sure you use the time you have allotted for studying efficiently. A good technique to follow is the Pomodoro technique.
The technique is pretty simple. You study for 25 minutes, then follow it up with a 5 minutes break. This 30 minutes cycle is a single Pomodoro. After every cycle, write down what you have completed. Repeat this and after 4 Pomodoros, take a 15 to 30 minutes break.
The human brain is unable to focus on something for long. If you are studying and fighting distractions at the same time, you will not be at your best. The Pomodoro technique allows you to laser-focus your attention for a short while and then rewards you with a 5 minutes break.
However, repeatedly using this method might not be the best. If a project is too large, divide it into smaller parts. The creator of this method, Francesco Cirillo, asserts that an estimate is complicated if it is greater than five to seven Pomodoros. It is recommended to divide the task into smaller ones if it takes more than five to seven Pomodoros.
It’s important to pace yourself when taking an online MBA course. Especially if you are attending the course while working. There are many courses available today that are flexible in their duration. You can repeat courses or spread them out according to your preference. How long it takes to complete an MBA will depend completely on you.
You need to see how much you can commit to decide the most efficient way for you to avail of a course. If you are working, you might want to spread out your courses instead of taking them in a single semester. If you have an important assignment submission coming up, you might want to put your work on hold for a few days.
You don’t have to rush through your courses. An MBA course will teach you the necessary skills to solve problems that you might not be able to solve otherwise. It is more important to take the time to properly learn those skills than to complete the course as fast as possible.
Take Advantage of Online Resources
Any decent online course will make a selection of online study materials available to you. They include reading recommendations, research papers, video lectures, or anything else one might require to complete the course. If you are serious about your MBA, then you have to make sure you properly utilize these resources available to you.
In an online course, you will not have the regular access to professors that you might have in an offline one. Therefore you need to study the materials provided to you before a lecture is held covering that topic.
It will allow you the time to internalize the material and realize where your doubts are. Then you can use your class as a doubt-clearing session and won’t have to spend valuable time later on trying to get in touch with the professor.
Despite the many advantages of an online course, a major disadvantage is that you are not in constant touch with your classmates and professors. Usually, if you fall behind, they can help you catch up. But that probably won’t happen during online courses. So don’t keep anything for the last possible moment and start preparing from the very beginning.
The first step in making your online MBA a success is to begin networking. In an offline course, you will go to mixers and parties to get to know your classmates. You will attend seminars where you can meet industry giants and other professionals. You will have none of these opportunities online. Not in the same way, at least.
Based on a Zippia survey, 79% of people believe that career progression depends on successful networking. Therefore you need to establish relationships with your classmates, professors, and other qualified individuals from the very beginning. They can offer you advice, feedback, and recommendations when you need them.
You can also use Linkedin for networking. Try to get in touch with people who are working the jobs you want to work and see what skillsets and qualifications they have. It can also help you get in touch with recruiters. Around 72% of recruiters today use Linkedin to look for talent.
However, while you are networking online, don’t forget the value of face-to-face communication. Going back to the same survey from Zippia, 95% of professionals agree that face-to-face communication is vital to their business, and 69% prefer meeting new clients and customers in person as opposed to virtually. Thus you need to learn to balance these 2 approaches to get the best result possible.
So, there you have it. The four tips above are umbrella advice for you to keep in mind. But the details of what works and doesn’t work for you are for you to decide on your own. Just remember to take a breather every once in a while and recharge your batteries. Because otherwise, what’s the point?