Making the Most of Your Online Learning Experience
New England College’s Master of Science in Management degree is available to study online, offering students the flexibility to work at their own pace and schedule. By completing all or part of their degree off campus, students can take advantage of the opportunities that an advanced degree will provide without interrupting their careers.
That said, online learning isn’t without its unique challenges. While the flexibility of the degree can be a highly effective alternative method of delivery, students must be mature, self-disciplined, organized, and have excellent time management skills to succeed. Ironically, the same flexibility that makes online learning so attractive to students can often cause others to procrastinate or fail to engage in the process altogether. Without the structure of a traditional classroom, online students must take greater ownership of their learning to succeed.
EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit organization of IT leaders and professionals working to advance higher education, consulted with students to compile a list of practical steps that helped them succeed in their online studies.
- Develop a time management strategy. The self-discipline that’s required to devote sufficient time to online courses can be a student’s biggest challenge. Without the structure of a classroom, it’s important for students to establish their own schedule – and to stick to it. Dedicating regular times for reading, studying, and completing assignments will help keep students on track, and students can take advantage of the flexibility by working around their other commitments.
- Make the most of online discussions. In the absence of a traditional classroom, students and instructors can engage online through message boards or chat rooms. Not only does this help students think and talk through the course material, it can give them the opportunity to build relationships with their peers. Being part of a community of learners can also lead to professional networking opportunities in the future.
- Use it or lose it. Students who are studying part time while they continue in their careers have the unique opportunity to apply what they learn to real world situations. This can help students better retain what they learn, while adding some valuable context.
- Make questions useful to your learning. Asking questions is integral to the learning process, no matter the delivery method. Online learning typically provides discussion boards, chat rooms, and access to peers and instructors through email. Students can take advantage of working outside of the classroom to take the time to craft questions that may explore topics more deeply than a classroom would allow.
- Stay motivated. Different students will have different motivations for studying online, so it’s important to find what works for you – not only to be sure that online learning is the right fit for you, but to hold your interest as you progress through your studies. For some, a reward at the end of their degree will help keep them moving forward; for others, smaller treats or the sense of accomplishment may be what keeps them focused on their day-to-day tasks. Find what works best for you, stay positive, and be consistent.
Learning online can be a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience. If students are willing to take ownership of their learning, their success can be unparalleled. Staying motivated, making the most of the experience and developing a time management strategy – among other behaviors – can propel you to success as you pursue your Master of Science in Management degree at New England College.