I always felt that university was going to be out of reach. I didn’t finish high school — I had both of my babies in my teens. But a friend encouraged me to apply to UNE for its Primary Education degree. That would have been seven years ago now; my youngest was just a newborn. Now I’m in my sixth year of study: I’ve had time off, changed degrees, even tried on-campus with a different university, but I came back after just a semester. In my spare time I love to crochet, but I don’t get to do it anywhere near as much as I’d like!
Study to me means coffee. Lots of coffee. Late nights. Early mornings. It means sitting at swimming lessons or at the park with the kids with a textbook or notes to read over. Or when my kids were younger, I’d read them my textbooks in silly voices – they thought it was hilarious! I’ve studied in emergency departments, and paediatric wards while the kids slept, in the audience at school assemblies while waiting for performance items. I find that more organisation and motivation is needed for off campus study. Having things ready to go at the drop of a hat is essential. It is so easy to get caught up with life, and to let study go by the wayside. But when things can be easily picked up for unexpected doctor visits, or extended time spent waiting in the car, it makes spending time on my studies so much easier.
One thing I love about distance education is that I can do things in my own time, when it suits me. I try to get ahead where possible, but that’s not always the case! Facebook can be a great procrastination tool; however, it’s also been a pillar of support throughout my degree. I’ve made many lifelong friends through social media and university. I rely on Facebook groups for individual units where we can discuss the content in an informal setting. I’m also a member of a group for local students of UNE, which is great: we meet up frequently, and it makes distance study not so isolating. It’s also great when we meet up to study while our kids play together—though it can be debatable how much study gets done. Another group that I’m a part of on Facebook is Mums@UNE, which is a group of mums, all studying with UNE, all different disciplines, but all tied together by the common factor of trying to juggle kids, home life and study.
I’ve seen a lot of changes during my time at UNE, from predominantly print-based mediums and Blackboard, to Moodle and entire course content being delivered online. I’ve spent time at the university for residential schools—which were so much fun, even though I missed the kids heaps. The next time I’ll be on campus is when I graduate in 2015! I dare say I’ll be back to UNE for postgrad studies, probably in IT, another passion of mine, but for now, I can’t wait to get out there and teach!