As distance education students, we can often feel like our study journey is a highly personal experience that we can’t share with friends or family. It’s easy to feel isolated as a DE student, but it’s important for both your performance and your emotional wellbeing to remedy those feelings as they arise. Let’s look at some great ways that you can stay connected as a DE student, no matter where in the world you are.
Participate in forums
This one might be a little obvious, but your subject forums are the best place to connect with students who understand what you’re going through academically in a way no-one else can. An active and helpful forum environment can really make you feel like part of a supportive virtual classroom. To take full advantage of your subject forums, introduce yourself early on in the session, and take time to read other people’s introductions to learn about your comrades. If you have any questions, ideas or comments to make on the learning modules, readings or assignments, don’t hesitate to pop a forum post up. Likewise, take some time out of your week to read the posts of fellow students, and respond to those you can. This way, you’ll be participating in the group, both providing and receiving much-appreciated support.
Start a study group
If you’re in an Australian capital city, chances are that there will be some students in your course or even subject who live nearby. If you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, visit one of our CSU Study Centres. On your forum introductions, it’s a nice idea to mention your location and desire to connect with others in your region. Alternatively, you may have friends or acquaintances who are also studying via distance education who, even though they are studying a different course, you can find common ground with. Whether it’s a monthly casual catch up over coffee, or a weekly intensive study session, you’ll soon reap the benefits of being part of an active study group.
If you live in an isolated regional area, as I do, you may want to participate in an online study group. Social media has provided us with an excellent opportunity for connecting with other students. Facebook and Skype are particularly brilliant, as they offer real-time support. There’s a great Facebook group for my course, and I find it wonderfully helpful and encouraging to be connected with a group of people on the same wavelength and studying similar work- even if the majority of posts are about books we like and beautiful library buildings we’d like to visit.
Get involved in student activities
While you might think that distance education doesn’t lend itself to participating in student activities, you just need to think a little outside the box. Joining the student consultative group or student council is a great way to have your say in the education of both yourself and fellow students. Attending conferences, workshops and study visits is a great way to engage with other students, and perhaps meet a few new friends. If you live close to a CSU campus, why not join a sports team?
Of course, we here at Charlie are all about making connections and providing all students with a voice. If you read a post that really engages with you don’t hesitate to comment and touch base- we love to hear from you!