Brenda: The benefit of studying online with a career and family
Brenda graduated from a Masters of Project Management (with Distinction) in mid-2015. Brenda is married with one daughter, who was born mid-way through her study. Brenda is a huge supporter of online study and the support that USQ provides for its online students, having never set foot on campus during her time with USQ.
It was actually my manager who encouraged me to consider formal study to further my career. After researching what project management degrees were available, I decided to study a Masters of Project Management at USQ because of the flexibility it offered in terms of online study and the choice of electives.
Even though online study was the way I wanted to go due to my other commitments, I was nervous as well, as my previous two degrees were completed on-campus. Because I have a full-time job, I wondered whether I would be disciplined enough to complete my studies if I didn't have to front up to lectures and tutorials.
To ensure I didn't start off on the wrong foot, I threw myself into my first subject with enthusiasm, and found I could complete the readings in my own time around the ebb and flow of work priorities, which can be considerable in my field. I also found the ability to ask questions almost anonymously helped, and the responses from course coordinators were generally so prompt, it was no issue at all that I couldn’t meet with them face to face.
Once I returned to study after giving birth to my first child, I found the online nature of my degree meant I could fit my reading and assignment writing around my daughter's sleep time, which was very helpful.
The most challenging time for me was when I went back to work 3 days a week while finishing my last three courses. With a young child, part-time work, a house to run and a husband who worked away from home, at times, adding in study to the mix as well was overwhelming, but the challenge seemed to bring out the best in me, and I am proud to say I have now completed my studies and graduated with distinction.
As a working, studying parent, I found it helpful to be proactive from the moment each semester started. I began the research for assignments at the beginning of the semester and always attempted to be ahead on my readings, as I found this helped reduce stress levels around assignment due dates.
My advice to anyone who is considering online study and wondering if they will be able to fit it around family and work is to have a go! It is a rewarding experience, and if the course is something you are really interested in, it makes studying a pleasure, not a chore.
If you’re after more advice on how successful uni students balance study with their other commitments, discover the power of work-life-study integration.