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An online MBA degree can help you get a better job, a higher position, and a pay raise. However, a simple mistake such as choosing the wrong school or failing to network with your peers could harm your chances of finding success.
If you want to do well in your online MBA program, avoid these common mistakes:
Enrolling in a Non-accredited Online MBA Program
Avoid it: A degree from an unaccredited school may not be accepted by other universities and future employers. Before enrolling in any online MBA program, check to see if the school is accredited by the proper regional association.
Fix it: If you're already attending a school that isn't properly accredited, try to transfer to a school that is. Before applying to a new school, ask them to explain their transfer policy. With any luck, you may still be able to salvage some of your work.
Not Taking Online MBA Work Seriously
Avoid it: It's easy to do less than your best when an instructor isn't standing over your shoulder. But don't dig yourself into a hole by neglecting your assignments. Good grades can mean a better chance at scholarships and a better chance at nailing your first post business school job. Make a schedule that allows time for school as well as family, career, and anything else that is important to you. Set aside time each day to complete your work without distraction. If you're still having trouble getting your work done, consider taking a lighter load. Remember that balance is key.
Fix it: If you're already behind on work, arrange a phone meeting to talk to each of your professors. Explain your situation and your renewed commitment to complete your assignments. You may offer to do extra credit or participate in special projects to get your grades back up. If you find yourself slipping again, recruit family members and friends to help keep you on track.
Ignoring MBA Program Peers
Avoid it: Networking is one of the biggest perks of business school. Most traditional students leave their MBA program with a Rolodex full of contacts that can help them in their new profession. It can be hard to meet people through a virtual classroom; but, it's not impossible. Start off your program right by introducing yourself to your peers and professors. Always participate in class chat sessions and message boards. When you complete a course, send a message to your peers letting them know that you've enjoyed meeting them and giving them a way to contact you in the future. Ask them to respond likewise.
Fix it: If you've let networking fall to the wayside, it's not too late. Start introducing yourself now. Before you graduate, send out a note or an email to students you may be able to work with in the future.
Paying for an Online MBA Degree Out of Your Own Pocket
Avoid it: There are tons of financial resources for online MBA students. Scholarships, grants, and special programs can help ease the cost of tuition. Before starting your first semester, get as much financial help as possible. Also, be sure to set up a meeting with your boss. Some employers will help pay an employee's tuition if they think the degree will benefit the company.
Fix it: If you're already paying for everything out-of-pocket, check to see what opportunities are still available. If your school offers access to a financial counselor, call her up and ask for advice. Many scholarships allow students to re-apply each year, giving you multiple chances to be granted cash.
Missing Out on Work Experience
Avoid it: Internships and work-study programs provide students with real-life business knowledge, valuable contacts, and, often, a new job. Since many online MBA programs don't require that students spend their summers interning for major corporations, some students simply forgo this opportunity. But, don't let this chance get away! Call up your school and ask them what work experience programs are available or contact a company to ask for internship details.
Fix it: Most internships are only available to students, so be sure to arrange something before you graduate. Even if you already have a job you may still be able to get an internship for a brief period of time or during irregular hours.