Emma: Why online study was the answer to my social anxiety

Emma completed her Master of Arts degree in editing and publishing in 2014. She is passionate about social justice, animal rights and feminist causes, raising awareness about mental health issues and is a USQ ALLY.

When you ask an online student why they chose to study online, they will probably say that online study gives them the ability to fit study around family commitments, maintain a healthy work-study balance or study whenever and wherever they want.

While all of these reasons are true, if you’re like me, they are only a bonus. As someone who has social anxiety, there were lots of things about attending uni that scared me. Some of my main concerns were:

  • Having to talk to new people. (Eep, scary! What if they think I’m weird?)
  • Having to be switched on and always prepared for class, just in case the lecturer picked me out of the crowd to answer a question I had no idea how to answer. (If I hide at the back of the classroom, I won’t get picked on… right?)
  • Not being able to make friends. (Even though I was scared of talking to new people, I didn’t want to be the only person without any friends either!)
  • That everyone I met at uni would think I wasn’t ‘good enough.’ There are days when I feel as though everyone is judging me, thinking that I’m not pretty enough or smart enough or cool enough, or just that I’m plain awkward. 

So, why put myself through it?  

How social anxiety can impact your study

At 25, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had already completed an undergraduate degree with an honours year (on-campus at 2 different universities), but was working in an unrelated field. Straight out of high school, I had chosen this degree based on interest alone, with no thought of future career prospects. At uni, because of my social anxiety, I would skip the majority of my tutorials and sometimes even my lectures. By the time I had finished my undergraduate degree, I wasn’t even really interested in pursuing a career in that industry. I was drifting, unsure of where I was headed or what I wanted.

Discovering online study

It was time for a change. After making many pro/con lists and doing a lot of research, I finally decided on a career path that factored in my interests, skills, personality and even (sort of) my previous studies. But in order to switch career paths, I knew I had to go back to uni. Thankfully, the thought of going back to uni was a lot less daunting knowing I could study online.

The benefits of studying online

Online study doesn’t mean you will be alone throughout your degree—there are still interactive components to classes and assessment, you can meet up with others or pop into uni whenever you like. Online study gave me the flexibility to pursue my career goals at the same time as working, from the comfort and non-intimidating bubble of my home.

Do you need to take the digital leap and study online? Don’t stop yourself from getting to your goals or studying what you’ve always wanted! I took the leap of faith and couldn’t be happier with my experience as an online student! Share your experiences with me or contact the Student Support team for further information!


Emma: How to be a successful online student (inspired by ecards)

Five things you need to know about online study

Mind over matter: apps for mental health