As you begin your online MBA program you will be placed into teams. This group of classmates will be the team members you will be with throughout the course of the program. It will be with this team, that group assignments will be completed. It will be with this team that a single grade will be earned and given to each team member on group assignments and projects. As you may guess, you will likely spend more time with, and get to know your team members better than other members of your cohort.
Also, during the course of your program, your amount of personal free time will undoubtedly diminish. As family, school, and other priorities take necessary precedence, the likelihood of engaging interactions with other cohort members naturally lessons. While this is understandable, it can also be limiting if your direct interactions with your cohort members is limited to only your team members. Numerous MBA graduates I’ve spoken with have all attested to the fact that as much as 50% or greater of the learning and benefit they received from their respective program was achieved through ongoing interactions with their cohort members.
In the online MBA program there isn’t the direct opportunity to spend several hours weekly in class and interact face-to-face with your cohort. While in the program, you will post and reply to weekly discussion boards, and are certainly free to and encouraged to converse with any of our cohort members. However, from my experience I feel individual schedules and routines often come into play and we are inclined to fall into the routine which is provided and most comfortable us (which is working directly and exclusively with only members of our assigned teams).
Make a conscious effort to connect and stay connected to others members of your cohort. I would recommend establishing and staying in contact at least one-to-two times per class with at minimum, one member from each team outside of your own. While face-to-face meetings, skype or Google Hangouts, or calls may be ideal they do come at a premium of time. Yet even a simple email or text to touch base, vent frustrations, or celebrate accomplishments goes a long way. (Practicing staying in touch now will also help you to continue to do so post-graduation.) As a cohort, you are all in this together! Be open and receptive. Be inquisitive - ask questions and be willing to be asked questions. Listen. Offer constructive feedback and likewise be willing to accept it. Be willing to help and allow yourself to be helped.
The Queens online MBA has designed a phenomenal program with world-class instructors. Ultimately, however, it is up to you as to how much effort you put into the program and how much you will learn and benefit from the program. Each member of your cohort brings with them a unique set of perspectives and experiences. The more you interact the greater the opportunity for learning. Staying connected within your cohort will improve the quality of and enhance your learning experience as well as help in making friends for life. And you never know if one day one of these friends may be able to provide the connection which may set you professionally or personally on a wonderful new path…