Best Practices For Online Business Students

Online student works on homework assignment at home

A world with COVID-19 looks and feels dramatically different than the world to which we had grown accustomed. Uncertainty abounds and no one can accurately predict or anticipate what the “new normal” will be. Business and industry have been forced to re-think how to meet the current and future needs of its stakeholders, namely its customers.

The world of higher education is no different, as most colleges and universities were pushed to move from a traditional, on-campus, in-class model to an online learning or “emergency remote instruction” model. Not only has this transition been challenging for university faculty and administrators, but students who originally signed up for a traditional collegiate experience have been thrust into the digital world of education.

The following best practices serve as a “how-to” guide so students in an online learning environment can not only successfully complete the course but also maximize their learning and retention in the process.

Schedule an Appointment

One of the most challenging aspects of being an online student is the myriad distractions that shift your focus away from your education. Things like Netflix, social media or catching up on sleep often serve as time bandits that steal valuable time away from your learning. That is why scheduling an appointment for you to attend class in an online learning environment is so critical. Just like showing up on the correct day at the correct time for your doctor’s appointment or bridal rehearsal, showing up for a class in a traditional, on-campus setting is keeping an appointment.

To be a successful online business student, you need to schedule a specific time of day for an allotted amount of time for your studies. Not only will this keep you organized and on task, but it also allows you to keep up with the pacing and sequencing of the class in order for you to maximize your success.

Actively Engage With Your Instructor, Classmates and Course Material

Another challenging aspect of being an online student is the risk of learning “passively.” In essence, passive learning does not allow you to maximize your learning outcomes, which is why it is crucial that you actively engage with your instructor, classmates and the course material. Accordingly, your instructor serves as the subject matter expert for the course, and proactively communicating with him/her via the learning management system (LMS), telephone or other digital platforms (e.g., Zoom) allows you to ask questions and/or dig deeper into the course content.

Further, far too often students take for granted how much they can learn from each other. By actively engaging with your classmates you enhance your learning by relating to their experiences and how they are internalizing the course material, not to mention helping to build your personal and professional networks.

Finally, as Mark Twain once stated, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” Learning is not exclusively about simply completing assignments or earning a grade, but rather about understanding principles or concepts and being able to apply them to your life. Thus, you need to spend enough time to critically and creatively think about the material, tools and resources available to you and, if you have scheduled an appointment to do so, you will be all the better for it.

Avoid “Check the Box” Thinking

Perhaps the biggest impediment keeping online business students from maximizing their academic success is “check the box” thinking, which presumes that students will engage just enough, do just enough to pass the class in order to obtain the “piece of paper” at the end of the program. That is neither success nor achievement; rather, it is simply taking the path of least resistance. It leads to maliciously complying with course requirements simply to complete them, which requires minimal effort.

Successful online business students must choose, intentionally, to take the path of greater resistance through disciplined work and effort. Taking the path of greater resistance requires a mindset like that of Vince Lombardi who said, “If we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” Said differently, checking the boxes might be good enough to get you to the graduation stage (i.e., “C’s get degrees”), but it is in no way achieving excellence. And remember, companies don’t hire you for your diploma; they hire you for how you can provide solutions to complex problems and the ability to think critically, creatively and innovatively. Simply going through the motions won't provide you with the tools needed to thrive in the business world.

While these best practices are not exhaustive in terms of what it takes to be a successful online business student, they serve as a nice starting point or foundation from which you can maximize learning outcomes. The question is: How successful do you want to be?

You can start preparing to reach for future career success by earning your business degree at Grand Canyon University. The Colangelo College of Business offers a wide variety of online business degree programs. Click on Request More Information at the top of your screen to begin your academic journey today.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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