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How to maintain the 'gold star' streak while studying online

Guest blogger: Renee Golland, Bachelor of Communications (Media Studies)

Full disclosure - I am a self confessed geek. That’s not to say that I didn’t struggle at times during my primary and secondary schooling, but learning was something I enjoyed. The thrill of pushing myself and being rewarded with good marks (or gold stars!) helped to motivate me.

A few years ago, I decided to go back to study and commenced a Bachelor of Communications (Media Studies) with Swinburne Online. This prospect was a little scary, given it had been well over a decade since I had last studied! This time was different though - I was studying because I wanted to, not because I had to. Half way through my degree, I am still walking a thin tight rope; balancing parenting a 5.5-year-old and 4-year-old twins, working 4 days a week, volunteering, training for running events and squeezing in some much-needed ‘me time’ where I can.

So far, I have really embraced my online studies and have exceeded all my expectations! In my last teaching period, I was awarded a certificate of Academic Excellence for my Australian Media Policy unit. Achieving this award came as a huge surprise and was welcome recognition for all the hard work and perseverance I had dedicated to my studies.

To maintain this achievement I have to be really disciplined and stick to some hard and fast rules, including:

  • Allocating a designated time in the day or week to study – a non-movable appointment with the books. This includes studying during my lunch breaks at work. It all adds up!
  • Asking for help when in need – us Mums like to think we can do it ‘all’ but it’s ok to ask for help. You too, dads!
  • Participating in Discussion Boards – learning from my peers was invaluable and the weekly tasks assist greatly with the upcoming assessments and exams
  • Using the Swinburne Library – it’s a treasure chest full of amazing resources
  • Saving all my work to the cloud – this means you can access it at any time, avoiding a computer meltdown (a huge tip I received from someone who learned the hard way)

At times following these ‘rules’ can be difficult, let’s face it life (and pre-schooler meltdowns) can get in the way of the very best of intentions.  Unlike studying on campus though, doing my degree online allowed me to master my own game and as time went on I got better at the juggle. I still have days where it all falls apart, but that’s okay. I recognise that tomorrow is a new day and focus on what I can do to catch up, not what I have missed out on.

The instantaneous and flexible nature of online study really suited me; I felt part of a genuine community and loved the instant discussions I was able to have with my peers and eLA’s. The opportunity to share and swap study tips and tricks was invaluable and developing a network of peers can only be a good thing for the future and for employment prospects.

I strongly believe that you should never stop learning, and as a mum I’m really proud of the good example I set for my children. Stuck to the fridge is my children’s artwork- alongside my first university award. Perhaps I should start wearing my undies on the outside of my pants - I might be a superhero mum after all!