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Help will always be given at Charles Sturt to those who ask for it, nicely…

Help will always be given at Charles Sturt to those who ask for it, nicely…

Kirsten Pini.

Sometimes life can take a turn. Kirsten shares her experience using the Charles Sturt Special Consideration Services and the planning behind ensuring it was a seamless process!

Written by Kirsten Pini

Mind the Harry Potter pun! Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan. Things can pop up in your personal life that are out of your control.

In Kirsten’s case, she required surgery urgently, which meant that she needed to put her studies on hold.

If you find yourself in a situation where special consideration might support you, follow Kirsten’s journey and hear her insights on seeking help!

Kirsten Pini.
Kirsten Pini.

In 2022, I was told that I would require surgery ‘urgently’ (within two months) after an appointment with my specialist. I was quite shocked, but relieved.

I had been putting up with not so nice symptoms and a lot of pain for years which had previously been ignored when seeking medical attention. But, with all the backlogs of surgeries with COVID, this surgery did not happen until 2023, 11 months later in fact!

My journey to applying for special consideration

In preparation for my surgery, since I was lucky enough to know about it and have forewarning. I was able to contact the Accessibility and Inclusion team and have them include the detail of upcoming surgery in my Study Access Plan.

I also had it written into my Workplace Learning Plan, as with placement coming up in 3rd year of my course, I wanted everyone to be aware and prepared.

Knowing I would only have approximately 1 week notice of when the surgery would happen, it was essential to forewarn as many people as possible. For me, this included lecturers and Workplace Learning Staff.

The way I approached my lecturers was via email initially. Then I would arrange to have a quick chat either before/after class or at another suitable time.

I also sent several emails and arranged multiple meetings with a staff member from the Workplace Learning Team to discuss. During my course, if there were group assessments, I would also let the other students in my group know.

Clear communication with anyone who may potentially be affected by an admission to hospital helps eliminate some stress and makes it easier to plan and adapt as required.

I found having a brief chat where I could give details of the facts, including the brief period of notification of a surgery date helped all my lecturers and peers understand what could arise and we could plan early to manage any demands around this.

I was worried how special consideration would go with my ‘online’ subjects, especially since I may not be able to speak ‘face to face’ with the Subject Coordinators.

But I had to send an email to communicate what was happening, because communication is key to everything. I could have ‘ignored’ or left until the last minute if a problem arose, but I have found that early communication is the best way to manage anything at university and in life.

Within Session 2 of 2023, I had surgery in the first week! I had emailed a Subject Coordinator highlighting my surgery was happening with a 6 week recovery period.

Kirsten's surgery image.
Kirsten after her surgery

At this point, I figured I would not require any special consideration. I had worked through a significant amount of work already, and I hoped that my recovery would be smooth, and I could spend many hours working on my laptop during recovery.

However, the Subject Coordinator highly recommended putting in a ‘special consideration’ for my first assessment.

It was highlighted that if my recovery wasn’t as smooth as I hoped, it would be easier to put it in early, rather than waiting until things were not so great and potentially when I wasn’t too well.

I really could see the positive of doing this and really appreciated the thought of ‘covering all bases’ and just being prepared.

So, I submitted my special consideration, along with my Study Access Plan and my Surgical Date Letter as ‘evidence’. My ‘special consideration’ with a two-week extension was approved the next day.

Plan ahead if you can, and use clear communication.

Sometimes, special consideration takes 3-5 days for approval to come back. But, if you ever have a sudden emergency, getting in contact as soon as possible is crucial.

Emergencies, mishaps, and life happens. We are all human and no one is immune from a misadventure, but I really do hope that it isn’t something you will experience.

But, just in case, it is always best to know what you need to do to make sure uni life stays on track.

And never put off applying for special consideration. Sometimes there is some negative stigma around admitting that something in your life isn’t going smoothly.

But, the staff are helpful and understand that misadventures happen!

So, keep lines of communication clear, be honest and upfront, apply for special consideration and supply the appropriate supporting documentation.

Special consideration is there for when us students need to use it!

Do you need help applying for Special Consideration?

Have a look at your subject outline in Interact2, speak to your lecturer’s and subject coordinators and explore the Charles Sturt Special Consideration website to see if you qualify for extensions for your assessments.

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