Written by Evelyn Kowalski


Many higher education institutions now offer online courses. These courses allow students to log on to their college's online platform, watch uploaded lectures, complete digital assignments, and participate in online discussions with their classmates.

Online learning makes higher education accessible to people who might not otherwise be able to enroll in college. Online learning gives students the schedule flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. It also allows learners to attend top programs in the country without relocating. Additionally, many online programs cost less than their on-campus counterparts.

Distance learning also comes with its share of challenges. Learners need the right resources to succeed, and they must possess strict time management skills in addition to strong self-motivation. This guide covers information and advice for prospective online students.

Online Courses During COVID-19

As COVID-19 continued its spread throughout the U.S. in February and March 2020, colleges and universities across the country began switching to online courses in order to comply with social distancing and quarantining rules and regulations. Many professors switched their lectures to Zoom, an online meeting and conference tool. Other instructors recorded their lectures for students to watch on their own time. Students began turning in assignments online and participating in class conversations through virtual discussion boards and meetings.

The transition to online learning hasn't been easy, though. Colleges have also sent students home, away from dormitories where they lived in close quarters with their peers. Some students across time zones encounter difficulty attending live lectures and discussions on time.

Learners might also face additional distractions at home and technology bugs that make online learning challenging. In addition, some students don't have anywhere to go, or their homes don't have the same resources as those on campus. For these students, connecting to the internet -- the most basic necessity of online learning -- can prove difficult. Some of these problems will take many resources to solve, while others require learners to adapt their study habits to a new system.

Taking MBA Courses Online

Taking MBA courses online can seem challenging, especially for those who haven't experienced it before. In truth, distance learning closely resembles traditional on-campus learning but with a different set of tools. These tools feature more flexibility but also require more self-motivation and self-discipline.

The amount of assigned reading and exercises students encounter when studying for online classes can seem overwhelming at first. Therefore, students should give themselves some sort of structure to make their studies more manageable. The online class study tips below can help you succeed in online MBA courses.

Online MBA Study Tips

Create a Workstation

You should dedicate a space to studying, especially if you primarily study from home. Your house can contain many distractions: maybe your children want your attention, your refrigerator is calling you, or your bed looks extra comfortable. Try to find a place solely reserved for studying that's far from these diversions. If you live in a small apartment without any room to spare, then consider creating your workstation in a coffee shop, coworking space, or library instead.

Ask Lots of Questions

It can be easy to feel isolated or lost in the material when you study remotely, but only if you let yourself become isolated. Remember, part of what you get out of this online program depends on what you put in. Keep yourself engaged and ask questions. Don't feel afraid to reach out to your professor or teaching assistants to make sure you understand the course material.

Set Aside Time During the Day to Work on Assignments

Creating a study schedule is a great way to keep yourself accountable. It can become tempting to procrastinate, start an assignment at midnight, or study for five-minute intervals. However, completing your assignments in one go can help you work more efficiently and with less stress. Just like dedicating a workspace to your MBA studies can focus your attention, dedicating a certain time of the day to your studies can also help minimize the pull of distractions.

Reach Out to Your Peers

Even though you may not see your classmates everyday in a lecture hall, you are all in the same boat. Send messages or emails to your peers to receive support. You can share project ideas or simply discuss the program's challenges. If you live near each other, you can even meet up for study sessions. One of the advantages of going through an MBA with a cohort is the camaraderie you develop with them.

Remember to Take Study Breaks

If you study without any breaks, you will inevitably burn out. Instead of checking social media during breaks, though -- something that can take you on an hour-long journey through high school memories or YouTube videos -- get up to stretch, brew a cup of coffee, eat a snack, drink some water, or walk outside for a few minutes. These types of study breaks can help you re-energize and get your focus back on track.

Consider Investing in Noise Canceling Headphones

A good option for anyone who studies in a noisy space, noise-canceling headphones can help you eliminate distractions. If rowdy neighbors live next door, your kids love listening to loud music, or construction laborers work across the street, you might especially appreciate noise-canceling headphones. These headphones can also prove invaluable to anyone who needs to work in a public place, like a coffee shop or bookstore.

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