Abbey Jones is a CSU Bachelor of Nursing student who has stepped out of the traditional university classroom. Read her story of combining her study with another passion.
When I say I’m at university the picture to the right isn’t exactly what comes first to people’s minds. Thing is the idea of being able to work my winters in a ski resort doing what I love and still complete a degree isn’t some far fetched figment of the imagination; it is my daily reality.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do whilst young but university is holding you back? With the exception of a few courses; where there is a will, there is a way. The two magic words are “distance education”.
There is a fair bit of planning involved at the start and a few things to keep in mind if you want to set out on an adventure of your own whilst completing a degree:
Keep a calendar
This is your absolute best friend when trying to juggle commitments in multiple locations. See if you can get a wall calendar specifically geared towards your university session with key dates already on them.
Set the dates
If you are studying nursing online there are three key things that need to go on your calendar:
- Residential school: if there are two residential schools offered for your subject, opt for the one very early in the season if possible. It is much easier to get time off work for a few days to attend before tourists start to storm your ski town and it is all hands on deck.
- Clinical placement: If at all possible it is best to schedule this just after ski season. Again, as the season dies down you are less needed for work purposes and employers are far more flexible; often encouraging some staff to leave a week or two early as there is less work to give. If you work a specific shift and are located near a hospital that you can do placement at it is possible to do both but gets a lot more tricky.
- Assignment due dates: When you aren’t going to class every other day it is easy to forget that an assessment item is due. Pencil them all in and divide them into blocks to do by a certain timeframe based on what the marking criteria requires. This way you don’t find yourself doing a Red Bull-fuelled six hours trying to smash out a 2,000-word barely acceptable essay with snail speed internet by midnight.
Let the weather guide you
This may seem like an obscure piece of advice but it truly lets you make the most of your experience. Unless a due date is looming, if it is a beautiful bluebird day outside, go out! It is after all what you came for.
The days to pass up on are the windy, foggy, overcast blizzard days that are almost impossible to enjoy when you can’t see anything anyway. Sit by the fire in your accommodation; watch the snow fall outside with a hot chocolate by your side and get those blocks of assignments done.
Use the discussion boards
Perhaps one of my biggest worries when I chose to change to online education was a lack of regular face-to-face sessions with teachers. Whilst there is strong value in studying internally for this element, when you factor in the flexibility afforded to a distance student with equal support and access to the teaching staff; for me it outweighed the value of sitting in a classroom everyday. Discussion boards and forums are available to students where lecturers answer questions daily. It is a good place to go to make sure you are on the right track with your study as well as to connect with other students in a similar position.
What are you waiting for? Go online, explore your options and start planning!