Are you starting a new semester for the Warwick Distance Learning MBA this month? If so, here are ten tips for making the most of the course and having a successful semester (in no particular order).
1. Keep on track with the schedule
I think most of the students in my cohort would agree – the study schedule is intensive! WBS provide a suggested schedule, and if you get more than a week or two behind it can be very difficult to catch up, so do your best to recover any lost time straight away.
2. Participate in the live sessions
The wbsLive sessions (WBS’s live web conferencing platform) provide a good opportunity to interact directly with the tutors, and other students who are not part of your study group. Admittedly, some of the sessions only provide a review of previously studied content, but others really make use of the technology, with interactive quizzes, and breakout groups that split off to discuss a topic, then present back and debate the results. Hopefully we’ll see more of this type of session moving forward, and the more people that participate the more interesting these sessions will be.
3. Choose a suitable way of taking notes
As I discussed in a previous post, there are many ways of taking notes. I tried a number of different approaches before deciding on a specific approach halfway through the course, and would recommend that you think about this before getting too far through the content, as it will have a big impact on how easy it is to write the final assignment or revise for the exams.
4. Engage with your study group
When you start the distance learning MBA you are allocated to a study group. I would strongly recommend that you take the time to meet the others in your group (virtually of course), as even if you don’t want any support with the academic elements of the MBA, it is very helpful having some people to speak with – otherwise just focussing on the textbooks and lesson notes can be quite isolating. Plus, it’s a requirement to work in your study groups at Warwick Week, so it helps if you already know each other.
5. Contribute to the discussion forums
Another component of the WBS MBA programme is the online discussion boards. For anyone not familiar with the concept, this allows you to pose a question or make a comment, then others can post an answer or make their own comment, in their own time. Like the study groups and live sessions, these are another good way to have a more interactive experience than just textbooks and lesson notes, and really brings out a wealth of insights from across all participants, adding to the taught learning on the module.
6. Plan your time and track your progress
This may sound obvious, but as per my earlier tip, time will probably be one of the biggest challenges on the course, so its essential to make the most of it. I’ve written a blog post about this previously which has some suggestions, so I won’t repeat them here, but I’ll just add that during the last third of the course, my study plan was also a great motivational tool – it was very satisfying to see the end of my plan getting closer, and this encouraged me to keep going. So make sure you track your progress and use this to motivate yourself.
7. Complete the TMAs
Now that I have completed the first semester I realise the importance of the TMAs. The fact that they are optional made it very tempting to skip over these time-consuming pieces of work; however, I can honestly say that they not only helped with learning the content, but also made a huge difference to how I approached the final assessments. This is especially important for modules that you find difficult – it is far better to realise you have the wrong approach with a TMA, than with a final assignment. They also provided a good indicator of how long needs to be allocated to complete the final assignment, which helped at the end of the module.
One point I can’t yet comment on is the relevance of TMAs when the final assessment is through an exam (which is the case for the second semester modules). However, I hope that the TMAs for these are appropriately written to require a similar skill set as the exams, in which case I am sure they will be equally useful. For more insights into the TMAs from semester 1, see my blog posts here and here.
8. Become familiar with the library databases
There were a few comments about the resources available in the library at the start of the course, but as this is a distance learning MBA I assumed they wouldn’t be particularly useful. However, I was wrong – the library has access to many online resources that are particularly useful during the course and with the assessments, such as company accounts’ analysis, industry overviews, and published papers. I was still able to use these for the final assessment, but it would have been far easier if I had been familiar with the sites beforehand.
9. Make the most of Warwick Week
Warwick Week is a twice-yearly event where we have the opportunity to meet and interact with our study group, other peers, and lecturers. I personally found this week really useful, both for networking, and for the debates & discussions that took place during and after the workshops/exercises. To find out more about Warwick Week, please look here.
10. Subscribe to my blog
And of course, my final tip is to subscribe to my blog! I plan to keep updating with new posts during the next semester, and would welcome any comments on what you’d like to hear about. To subscribe, you can either click the ‘subscribe’ button on the right of the home page, or follow me on Twitter.
I hope you found these tips useful, and if you have any other tips for new or current students, please post them in the comments area below.
Semester two – here we come!