The MBA program may be online but there are still ways to network.
Online Master of Business Administration programs offer flexibility and convenience, enabling you to access coursework online and study at your own pace. This can be a huge advantage if you have a full-time job or don’t want to make a long commute to school. Additionally, most online MBA programs are cost-effective and often more affordable than their on-campus counterparts.
However, there’s always a fear of missing out on the networking that comes with traditional MBA programs. You won’t have face-to-face interaction with your professors and no in-person connection with your peers. Independent learning can make you feel isolated.
But today’s online MBA programs make it a point to promote interaction between students. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, online MBA students spend, on average, close to 30 percent of their time learning through team projects, as opposed to over 20 percent for on-campus MBA programs.
Our digital world offers alternative ways to connect with the academic community. Here are five networking tips to help you make the most of your online MBA program.
1. Create virtual study groups.
Entrepreneur suggested forming study groups, as they are a great way to bond with fellow students. You can share thoughts on the latest lectures, discuss project requirements and trade coursework tips. This makes virtual study groups the perfect vehicle to collaborate with your online classmates.
You can create a Facebook Group where discussions take place in the form of posts and comments. You can also create a Slack workspace where you can have quick conversations and easily share files. Another option would be to host discussions on a messaging app such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
2. Participate in online class discussions.
Active participation in online class forums goes a long way. You can gain insights from discussions and obtain new perspectives from your cohorts and professors. You can even find someone you can exchange thoughts with and invite them to be a study partner for better accountability.
Online programs also hold a casual introduction session at the start of the course. Make sure to join in because it gives you a chance to get to know your classmates and professors outside of the formal school environment.
3. Join live lectures.
Your instructor may hold a few live lectures throughout the course. They may also invite other experts to speak about related topics. These lectures and presentations are as close as you can get to an actual in-person classroom experience. Follow Entrepreneur’s advice and be sure to attend these sessions, as they’re excellent opportunities to listen and learn. There may also be Q&A sessions at the end where you can get your questions answered.
4. Take part in immersion time.
Online MBA programs usually host a few days of on-campus immersion events for students and faculty. These events are designed to encourage teamwork and highlight the importance of a learning community so make time in your schedule for them. You can also connect with other students and faculty in a more informal way.
5. Connect with alumni.
There’s no better way to learn about an online MBA program than from those who’ve gone through it. The Economist understands this and highlighted why online MBA programs should encourage interaction between students and alumni. Ask your school to connect you with graduates of the program. They can share their experiences and give you advice on how to succeed in the program.