When you elect to study online, you’re choosing a flexible option that can be adapted to suit your needs and commitments. With this level of flexibility comes a greater need to self-manage – from conducting proactive study sessions, to independently juggling deadlines and course requirements. During this experience, establishing and maintaining a strong support network is an essential component to success. This doesn’t just refer to student support, but also academic, personal and peer support - each of which play a vital role in assisting during your studies and are not to be overlooked. We map out the various support networks below, discussing their individual importance in the overall online study journey.
Your family and friends
In life, the support of those close to us – such as a partner, parents or friends – is important for both mental health and happiness. When it comes to studying online, this is no different – it’s an integral part of continued success. Prior to enrolling in your degree, it’s recommended that you sit down with close ones to discuss the commitment you’re looking to make. Aside from the fact that loved ones will get less time with you, you’ll also need their support in areas that you may fall behind in – such as helping around the house. Emotional support is key during business school, with family and friends providing the much-needed care.
AIB MBA Graduate Shaun Van Wyk explained that balancing work, study and life at home with a young family was always going to be a challenge. From the beginning, he wanted to get the support of his wife on his journey towards an MBA. “It was essential to get my wife on board early, explaining the sacrifice that was going to have to be made,” he said. During his online study experience, Shaun’s wife helped by taking the kids to the park when he needed to study. “Having the support of your family behind you, in addition to the discipline to work through it all, is really important for success.”
Your peers and fellow students
One of the great benefits of online learning is the networking opportunities offered, allowing students to connect on a local and international level. From the beginning of a programme, students can build a support network of fellow students and peers through online study groups. These can be programme or subject based, or simply by connecting through common ground, which is your choice of business school. When facing challenges throughout your degree, these support networks are fantastic as you can chat with people in the exact same situation as you. Students are able to work through issues together, learn other people’s perspectives, and support one another on the journey.
Your employer and workplace
While the support of your employer is not essential for success when studying online, it certainly is helpful. Many workplaces offer flexible arrangements for postgraduate study, particularly if the qualification will benefit their organisation. When you enrol in your degree, take the time to meet with your manager to discuss your decision, as well as any ways in which your workplace can support you, such as study leave or a financial contribution. In a practical sense, having the ability to apply what you’re learning and your assessments in the workplace will enhance the learning experience, and your employer can assist to maximise this. There may be few options, but your workplace could surprise you and offer a support network that you didn’t know existed.
Your business school
From the outset, a good business school will support you from when you first consider applying, all the way through to after graduation. At AIB, this is in the form of three key areas – student support, academic support and wellbeing support, ‘AIB ASSIST’. All three go hand-in-hand and form an extensive support network for the online learning experience. Student support offers assistance in everything from operating the online learning systems, to timetabling and study techniques. Academic support staff and online facilitators are there to answer the more technical, subject specific questions – from dissecting difficult concepts to assessment feedback. Finally, AIB ASSIST offers accessible third-party counselling services for managing life at home, work and with study.
Rural Australian graduate Cindy Hales explained that this level of support was essential to her, which is why she chose AIB. “I think one of the key successes for me in terms of study was the support that AIB offer. It was really personal, it was always timely and people were there when I needed them,” she said. Cindy learnt that reaching out early in each subject was integral to her getting the most out of the study experience, as the academics supported and extended her. Your business school is there to support you as best as possible, so take advantage of these services to ensure you get the most out of your degree.
AIB student support and services include:
It’s clear that a good support network is essential for a sustainable and practical study experience.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.