The DBA: Students Share 15 Tips for Success

Oct 5, 2012 by University Communications

If you're considering enrolling in CalSouthern's Doctor of Business Administration program, chances are you already know a thing or two about academic success. However, attaining the highest degree in the field in an online environment does present some unique challenges—even for the brightest and most diligent students.

We surveyed the entire student body in CalSouthern's DBA program for their advice on how to successfully complete this rigorous, formidable, yet extraordinarily rewarding educational journey. Here are their top 15 tips:

Online DBA Learner1. Pace yourself. Take one class at a time and follow the road map the program sets out for you. Remember that it's about learning and not just putting those three letters behind your name.

2. Make an introduction. Let your professors know about your work background, what you're interested in, and what your goals are. This allows them to better personalize their feedback to your work.

3. Study regularly and in shorter intervals. There aren't many people who can study effectively for six to eight hours at a time. If you study in frequent, shorter sessions, you're fresher, you remain close to the material (if you leave it alone for a number of days, you might find you need to spend precious time reviewing material to get back up to speed) and if you miss a session, you won't fall too far behind.

4. Make your study time yours. Let your friends and family know when your study times are and ask that they respect this time. With certain work, it's going to be critical that you have a block of undisturbed, uninterrupted quiet time, and you need your support groups to understand this.

5. Work ahead. Do your best to stay a couple of assignments ahead on the syllabus. That way, if something unexpected comes up in your work or family life, you won't fall behind. And if you're able to stay ahead of schedule, you'll have extra time to devote to the more involved projects that often come toward the end of a course.

CalSouthern Lecture6. Get involved. Every month or so, the university offers a webinar or guest lecture. Take advantage of this program and attend the ones that interest you.

7. Style points. Familiarize yourself with the basics of APA style before you start your first class.

8. Know what's expected. Don't be afraid to clarify what the faculty mentor is expecting of you. No question is silly. And don't procrastinate.

9. Lean on the librarian. Get to know the CalSouthern online library's resources and ask the school librarian for help if you need it. She's very responsive and a great help.

10. Get ready to read. Be prepared to do a lot of reading. Realize that, in some ways, this is the trade-off for not having to sit through classroom lectures.

11. Relationships matter. Keep in regular contact with your faculty mentors and be sure to ask them questions. They want you to succeed. Just read the assignment first! Also, develop relationships with a few of your fellow students, too. They can be a great resource and it doesn't hurt to network, either.

12. Rely on routine. Make a nightly date with yourself to go to your office, the library, or wherever you study and do your coursework. It's like going to the gym. Once you're there, you'll do your workout. The hard part is forcing yourself to get in your car and go.

13. A time and place. Have a study schedule which includes a time and place to study—and stick to it. That being said, if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, don't be afraid to take a break and reschedule your study time. Just don't let a day or two become a week or more.

14. Commit the time. Before you enroll, be honest with yourself and make sure that your professional and personal lives are at a place where you have the time to commit to the program. Some students say you should count on studying 12 to 15 hours each week; others need to put in a minimum of 20—and sometimes more. It's rewarding work, but you have to put the time in.

15. Don't hesitate to ask for help. If you find yourself falling behind for some reason, reach out to your faculty mentors, your advisor, or the dean. They want to see you succeed and they will do everything they can to help you out or to be flexible, but they can't help unless they know you need it.

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