Things I wish I knew before I started studying online

March 13, 2017
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The reason I went to high school was not to learn, but to socialise. I had absolutely no intention whatsoever of going to uni and what both institutions were selling, I wasn’t buying. After graduating and spending a few years in a variety of shit kicker jobs, I decided that my beautiful brain was being wasted and I should probably aspire to do more than earn $17 per hour. Enter: online study.

Meet your new teachers: Organisation, discipline and dedication

You’ll meet these teachers regardless of whether you’re studying on campus or online. The difference is, if you choose online, they’ll probably beat you up. The luxury of studying at a campus is you have actual classes, lectures, tutors and lecturers all pushing you to get that assignment in, do the readings, show up for class and basically, do the work. Adult day care, I like to call it.

Online… Well, you’re on your own and 100 per cent responsible and accountable for getting your own shit done. You’ve got to be so much more on the ball because no one is going to help you with your finger painting.

It might be better if you don’t study at home

I sat at my kitchen bench for 18 months, with my big squishy red couch and 64 inch TV juuuuust visible in the corner of my eye. Torture. While it is convenient to just set up a spot at home, there are usually distractions (like Big Red and the story box).

Now, being an on-campus student, I know I study so much better at my uni library, AKA my second home. If you have a library, uni study space or quiet café nearby, use it. The simple act of getting dressed, packing your bag and going to the [insert study place] will make it an easier and more efficient way to study.

Studying online is just as valid as studying on campus

Having experienced both sides of the coin, I can safely say studying online is harder than studying on campus. There is a reason that full-time online study is only two units. On campus, you have a variety of easily accessible resources: the library, study spaces, friends, books, computers, tutorials, health and wellbeing services, the tav, tutors, lecturers, unit coordinators, advisors – the list goes on.

When you’re studying online it’s kind of hard to whisper to the person next to you “Am I doing this right?” It’s even more difficult if you have zero study skills and have been out in the workforce a while. For every one person who thinks studying online is a breeze there are two people who dropped out because it was too hard to keep up.

It’s OK to ask for help

If you’re struggling with the the workload, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask your tutor for help. They’ll probably have a ton of advice on how you can better approach the work or how to find a better work/life balance. It works out better for you and them if you do well. They want you to do well and achieve your potential just as much as you do. And if they’re arseholes just remember; you pay their wages so you’re basically their boss.

It’ll be worth it in the end

When you’re staring down the barrel of a deadline, it can be almost impossible to keep perspective and look at the big picture. It’s normal to make mistakes, that’s how our stupid human brains learn. The sacrifices you make now will pay dividends for the rest of your life. No one ever says “I regret getting an education”.

Annabel Sweetnam-Groom

Annabel is a Journalism graduate who is completing her Law and Criminology degrees and a Modern History minor at Murdoch. She enjoys whisky, pizza, and sleeping.

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