The how to guide: for supporting your studying child.

When your child first starts at university it can be scary and confronting – and that’s just the parents!  There is that niggling fear that your child cannot survive without you and you are also concerned that they cannot do things for themselves; they may starve, or not know how to wash clothes, or be on time for lectures and how will they cope financially? You will need to provide financial, moral and emotional support for your child and it is not as hard as you may think! Believe me, they won’t starve.  Here are my top 5 tips for supporting your studying child:

#1 – Be prepared to let them go!
When your child first starts at University they will call you every 5 minutes just for a chat or to ask the most simple of questions. Don’t worry, they have not made friends yet, just listen to them! After 2 weeks or so you will probably hardly ever hear from them because they would have made a group of friends so they will not need those long chats from you anymore. Don’t cling to them – ‘let them go and fly the coop’; it’s the best thing you can do for them. After all, this is the time in their lives that they will form lifelong friendships.

#2 – Be the stability in their lives!
Starting study can be an overwhelming time in your child’s life.  Make sure that you are the rock for them to cling to in their times of need. This emotional backup from the family is just what will make your child resilient to the uncertainties in their lives. Above all, remain calm in anxious moments.

#3 – Be interested!
Make sure that you remove their fear of failure by being interested in what they’re doing. Support their decisions, even if they choose to change courses a number of times while they are finding their feet. Leave the decision of what happens in their lives to them. This will teach them independence, but they’ll still know you’re always there for them.

#4 – Money! $$$$$$
Naturally this part of support is the part we all accept as parents, but it may come in many different facets. There are always the books; paying for each semester’s books is a great way to help your child financially, as these are quite often a very expensive part of studying. But there are small things that can help, like the occasional tank of petrol in their car, paying for their internet and student fees. If they don’t have a car pay for their bus passes. If they live away from home – I found taking frozen leftovers of last night’s casserole, roast or stir-fry really popular and helpful. Leftover desserts are particularly popular with Uni students, and taking them out for an occasional treat for dinner is a great break from their usual student cuisine.

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#5 – Encourage them!
This is a very basic part of supporting your child…… but important! Be sure to encourage them to stay focused on the end goal of their studies, because they will undoubtedly have moments where it seems so far away and unachievable. Encourage them to apply for available scholarships, make use of the support services available on the university campus such as the Learning Centre for help with problem areas of study, career counselling, and join on campus clubs such as sport and to seek support from their appointed Student Relationship Officer. Check out his link to some helpful tips on supporting a child in study.

Let me know if you have some other useful tips on supporting a studying child!

- Lisa


The Adventures of: My Degree and Me

I’ve only been out of university a few months, yet it feels like an eternity. I had so much fun and did so much cool stuff; I didn’t realize it was going to be over so quickly. Maybe, had I ‘accidentally’ failed a couple of subjects I could have extended my degree a little longer. Nevertheless, I am done now and am facing the big, scary, real world.

People always ask me, “What did you actually get out of the last three years?” Well…


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No, not those guys! I now have a group of fantastic new friends who all love and appreciate the same things I do. It doesn’t sound that important, but friends who make films always need a crew they can trust, which puts me in prime position! They can also act as an ‘inside man’ in companies you are looking to achieve employment with.

I should probably clear up that I don’t just have friends for convenience; I can just be a nice person. However, it’s just worth mentioning that friends in high places don’t just appear by themselves.


As I mentioned before, I’ve done a lot of cool stuff in three years. The practical element of the Bachelor of Applied Media has allowed me to be heavily involved in industry experience both in and outside of the course content. Here’s the highlights reel:

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Channel Nine News Package:
A friend and I had the amazing opportunity to create a news package to be played on Channel Nine 6 o’clock News. I was in charge of the audio and journalism whilst my friend was the cameraman. The best bit about the experience was that the legendary BRUCE PAIGE was our mentor.

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My own music festival:
As my independent project in third year, I adopted the role of Community Engagement Officer (CEO) of Phoenix Radio, creating and strengthening the connection between the station and local community. Being as audacious as I am, I thought a free music festival sponsored by USQ and Phoenix Radio would be perfect.

After months of preparation, we streamed an entire music festival online and exposed the community to local artists. It was a big success for the university, radio station, and personally.

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Short Films:
Going back to the point of having industry friends, I have filled in on heaps of different projects that friends have needed help with. Anything from holding boom poles, to camera work, and even a sneaky cameo or two, wherever I could help and get my name on the credits was a big bonus to me.


I don’t work a 9-5 job. I am much, much busier than that. I have somewhat expanded my role as Community Engagement Officer of Phoenix Radio, now organizing and producing gigs in Ipswich once a month. Being producer is great, because I can practically do all of my work from home, sending emails and contacting local artists. I have also been recently promoted to content coordinator for online music magazine Writing, editing, and uploading music reviews throughout the week is a tedious, yet rewarding experience and once again, can be done from behind a computer at home.

In an attempt to leave the house at some point, I also have picked up temporary work as a voiceover artist and am in the process of writing a story for Channel Seven News. I always knew that I couldn’t just walk into my dream job, so all of this has kept me busy and working while I aim towards my goal of working for Triple J.

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Until next time,


How my study is like a dinner party

So I feel as though I’m right in the middle of an extravagant dinner party right now and it’s been going on for about a few weeks. Why, you might ask? Well.

  •          I’m currently completing my 3rd year of my psychology (honours) degree. And,
  •          I am doing this full time – so I’m completing 4 subjects. And,
  •          Adding on top of this the 3 casual jobs that I am involved in. And!
  •          I am currently undergoing work placement at Lifeline as a phone crisis supporter (which is the new job name for a phone counsellor).

Pretty cool, right? However, you may ask: ‘Nick, how do you do it? How are you surviving?!’ Well.

It’s not actually all that bad. In fact, I feel as though I’m kind of at a dinner party. I’m really enjoying it all. I’m really enjoying all of the subjects that I am involved in (some of which are actually really, super-duper cool). I enjoy my casual jobs and work placement for lifeline is surreal.

It’s kind of like… I’m at the table, and there is so much awesome food there that I just am not sure how to approach it. A little bit of this, a little bit of that? Or do I grab a great big slab of that delicious looking mud cake? But what if I run out of time/room in my belly? Oh wait a second… maybe I do want to try that octopus over there… Surely it would taste good, right? I am a huge fan of calamari and a bit of an adventure-seeker. Or perhaps the mud cake first…

So there are kind of a lot of different foods to eat. A lot of new food that I haven’t experienced before. A lot of people around me who are interested in how I’m going and what I’m doing. So yeah, there’s a lot. I’m busy, but it’s a good busy. A happy busy.

On top of it all, I try to go to gym, stay healthy, and also maintain a dignified social life instead of becoming a reclusive hermit.

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No, the other type of hermit…

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Yes, that’s better.

And no. I can’t grow a beard that fabulous. Yet.

I get through it all though (at least I normally do) and I do it with quite a bit of aplomb.

The work placement at Lifeline is pretty much the main course for me right now. It’s the big juicy roast sitting right smack-bang in the middle of the table looking a million dollars. And it is the main reason I’m writing to all my fine readers today, actually. I’m sure some of you have gone through some sort of work placement in your lives, but for those who haven’t (or haven’t done it for uni), I thought I’d give you a run down on how it goes.

The university organised it all for me, which is spectacular. They got me into contact with Lifeline and started the whole process off. I basically walked into the door for the first day of training without having organised a thing. Pretty great.

I went through a few weeks of training (about two days a week) to gain a proper understanding of how to take calls, how to communicate with the callers, and how to relieve their distress. Throughout the training, I got to observe one of my supervisors taking real calls on the phone, which was a great learning experience.

I finished the training, and have now had 3 shifts on the phones talking to anyone who needs help. It’s been a valuable learning experience already and I’ve enjoyed it beyond my 32wildest expectations. Yes, it has been very difficult and challenging for me, but it’s been a good difficult and challenging.

I’ve taken calls about suicide, mental health issues, family and relationship issues and many other difficulties in people’s lives. It’s amazing to be in the human services work place environment – it’s a great experience for me and I know it will be an invaluable experience.

Until next time!

Studying by distance from another country: 6 tips for studying on the go!

keep_calm_and_study_on_unique_poster_print_design-rde9f2dd6cde6449a9e5d9316c17a5834_wv4_8byvr_512I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that I live overseas so am studying by distance.  It’s not always easy, as I’m sure you can imagine, so I thought I’d put together some of my key tips for a successful semester of studying on the go.  While I’ve written them with special thought for those living abroad or who travel a lot like I do, I’m sure we can all benefit so have a read and let me know what you think by leaving a comment at the end!


#1 – Become paperless

Not only will you save the environment and money by not printing things out, you will be much more mobile, which means you can studying anywhere, anytime, as long as you take your laptop with you.  Better still, set yourself up with an online storage cloud.  You can set it up so that your work is synced to your cloud automatically, so you don’t even need to remember to do anything extra.  You’ll then be able to access all of your files from any computer across the globe as long as you have an internet connection (Note: USQ offers online storage space via UDrive though it won’t sync automatically like clouds do).

#2 – Know where to find resources before you need them

Don’t wait until the week before your assignment is due to find out where the task sheet is and how to search online for quality resources.  Check out the various USQ tutorials now and save yourself time and stress later on.  With international time differences it can be difficult to contact support staff (or other students) in real time for help, so it’s important to plan ahead.

#3 – Connect with other students

We all know that studying by distance can be an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be! Connect with others in your course through StudyDesk and set up informal study groups (using email or Skype, for example) for support.  While family and friends can be a great support, it’s always nice to connect with someone else who’s also up at 2am trying to get their assignment finished before exhaustion sets in and the rest of the household is awake!

#4 – Develop a routine – but be flexible

It’s easier to get your brain into gear when you’re working to a familiar schedule but as you know, life happens and we can’t always stick to the schedule so it’s important to be flexible.  If you find yourself with a spare half hour before you need to head out for Friday drinks, use it to your advantage.  You probably don’t want to start a task that will require deep thought and a lot of time, but you can do shorter tasks like preparing for tutorials or listening to shorter lectures.  You’ll be thankful that you already did it later in the week when your momentum is slowing.

#5 – Break tasks down into smaller chunks

There’s nothing more daunting than having a 10,000,000,000 word super long essay to write so break it up into more manageable pieces (e.g. read a relevant research article; write an essay plan, develop an introduction).  Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement at the end of each chunk – but leave the weekend long wine appreciation celebration until all of the task has been completed!

#6 – Stop procrastinating!

We all do it.  But for some of us (me included) it can eat up a lot of our time.  Be aware of this and avoid spending all of your time preparing to get your stuff done – start your stuff now.  As in right now – GO!


Changing careers ……It’s a learning curve!

When I think long and hard about the career changes in my life I can count a total of twelve to date and I say to date because there will definitely be at least one more to come. That is when I finish my degree at the USQ and go out into the big wide world again and into my new chosen career. I have done everything from being a door to door salesperson to data cabling.

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And with each career change in life comes the usual range of emotions and thoughts ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ and of course ‘What if? Or to put it another way: ‘To career change or not to career change, ………… that the question?’ There is and always will be the lingering fear of failure. It is important to remember that changing careers is a learning curve because with each new career you learn new skills, some physical and some mental. These skills will help build the bank of knowledge and abilities that will eventually make up the whole you.

The important questions to ask are:

1. Is my current career like this?

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2. Or is it more like this?

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Plummeting fast?Or would you like your career to look more like this?

3. Just a bit more exciting?

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If you answer yes to one of the above then you may need a change in your career.

Coming to uni is a positive step in making the ultimate decision, but it is by no means the final step, because then you will have to follow through into your chosen career path and onto success. There will be successes along the way and it’s important to focus on them, but also to learn from your mistakes.

  • You shouldn’t get hung up on the failures, after all as long as you learn from the failures you have gained a positive new skill.
  • It is important to stay positive and focused on what YOU want from your life. No one else will do it for you and would you really want someone else to make those decisions for you anyway? This feeling of empowerment is very seductive and really good for the ego; trust me I know from experience.
  • Above all be committed to your choice because this could be the first step to a brilliant and exciting career! Also remember that you will add to the bank knowledge and experience to make yourself a whole new multifaceted, dynamic and interesting person.

With each new career change, comes a sense of fulfilment and gratification and the trepidation and concern that you originally felt will ebb away like a receding tide. I have found that people very quickly forget failures but the successes that you achieve stay with you and are remembered sometimes much longer after you can recall them. This sometimes can be a bit creepy or bizarre really. I remember once walking into a room (at work) and having a complete stranger walking up to me and shaking my hand whilst he introduced himself and telling me that he was so pleased to meet me after having heard so much about me. It made me wonder what my boss had been saying about me, while I secretly hoped it was all true.

Here is a link to a clever you tube clip that may give you a laugh, I hope you enjoy it:

So when it comes to changing careers, remember that:

                                    The certainty of trying   =   the sum of succeeding!

- Lisa

Dear ‘nervous-final-year’ Jordan

With the return of semester one, I thought I’d take a similar approach to fellow USQ blogger Kara (see Kara’s blog “advice for my pre-exam self”

Dear ‘nervous-final-year’ Jordan,

HAPPY ACADEMIC NEW YEAR! March came around so quickly and now it is time to get back into the swing of things.

At this point, it is important to set yourself up for success and turn over a new leaf with positive study habits. 2014 is a big year for you Jordan; Not only are you preparing for your final year of university, but you’re also going to have to juggle it alongside full-time work.  It’s not enough to just set your new year’s resolutions; you need to think how you will actually keep them.

Build a study time table. Keep up to date with readings. I know these have been your academic ‘new years’ resolutions’ for the past few years, but you need to now more than ever. Finishing assignments the night they’re due is no longer an option for you. Start early, plan ahead and you’ll have plenty of time to edit without the pressure. Every opportunity to study should be taken – like your train rides to and from work.

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After four years of full-time on-campus study I know that the idea of finishing university online can seem a tad daunting. Always remember, if you are ever concerned you have an amazing support network of family, friends and university staff you can call on. The lecturers have consultation times set aside for student questions and they’ll only be a phone call or email away. Speak to work about your studies and I’m sure they will be able to be flexible when it comes to exam time.

I know you’ll be missing the social side of university, but online study isn’t as lonely as you may think. You can be just as involved in social and discussion forums available on the course pages; if that isn’t enough, you can always set up study groups.

Finally, don’t forget to look after yourself! Not only will you have limited time for study during the week, but you’ll also have to make time for exercise, downtime and (most importantly) sleep! Take a deep breath. Stay focused. Eat well. Have fun. Set yourself goals for this year and work towards them.

Best wishes always and I cannot wait to see what adventures you’ll have this year!

Good luck!

From ‘optimistic-future’ Jordan

The (un)official university bucket list

Having just finished my Bachelor of Applied Media at USQ, I feel like there are things everyone should experience in their time at university. Therefore, I have collated the top five things you should have on your university bucket list.


This is the most stereotypical choice of things to do before you graduate, but probably the most important. The more you learn through these lectures, the more chance you have of winning trivia Tuesdays. It’s not easy though, there’s a very fine art to slipping into another lecture. There are several key factors you have to be aware of when choosing a class to drop in on.

How big is the class?

It’s very important to not pick a class with 3 people, for the obvious reasons. Research popular courses and make a wise estimate on the amount of people pre-lecture. Also, be aware that different times of year effect class sizes (eg exam block).

Don’t pick something you’re not interested in.

I once sat in on a Psychology lecture with a friend, thinking I would be able to mind-read by the end of it. Turns out, the course was actually statistics, which is basically just maths. Ugh, what a terrible judgement error.

Have a clear getaway plan.

As I found in the above statistics class, it’s a lot harder to get out of a lecture than it is to get in. This plan must be thought out before enduring three hours of unanticipated pain.

Basically, if you are going to do it, PLAN FIRST!


Most people won’t have a choice in this one, but you can make it worth your while. This is always a much better activity when you have company, so be sure to schedule particular nights with a large group to endure it together.

With Dominos always extending their opening hours, food for thought is never an issue when smashing out assignments. Small snacks are also recommended, but aim for fruit over lollies to avoid the ominous sugar crash at 3am.

Also, organising brain-break activities is essential for group sessions. Watching an episode of Breaking Bad after every two hours of study was a favourite of mine last year.



When was the last time you wore your pyjamas somewhere other than your bedroom? How many opportunities are you going to get to wear them out in public? These points make this section of the bucket list imperative! If you are living in on-campus accommodation, you have the opportunity to do this every week, so don’t pass it up.

Alternatives accepted are a kilt, wetsuit, onesie, or half-shirt (a shirt cut in half) which yes, I have witnessed before.


Understandably, when you are running late, sacrifices have to be made. Often this leads to breakfast (the most important meal of the day) being skipped. I would put a box of fruit loops and a bowl in my backpack and hope I could find milk somewhere. Of course, going one step further, feeding your friends bacon and eggs during a lecture is a sure hit when group work comes around.



Trust me, you are going to need to. When the table gets hot, you want to be able to stay in the kitchen, because there’s major reputation on the line.

Above all else, this list is about having fun and not getting overworked during your degree.

If you are a future student, write these bad boys down for later.

If you are a current student, make sure you’ve done them before you leave.

If you have already finished and are missing ticks on this list, enrol in a masters of something and finish what you started!

Until next time,

Driving all the way from School to University!

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It was not truly that long ago that I graduated from high school, only 2011. I am now going into my third year of my psychology degree; however I still remember some differences between high school life and university life which I would have found useful to know at the time! I learned the hard way – through trial and error.

That development for me almost felt like a rite of passage; I had to find out the wrong and right way of going through university. I found it similar to learning how to drive. Not too much on the accelerator, not enough on the clutch; not enough on the accelerator, too much on the clutch. It was a trial and error before finding that balance. Now, by my third year, I’ve had a few stalls, I’ve had a few (accidental) tyre spins, and I’ve definitely had a few heart wrenching moments of ‘oh no, I didn’t see that car there and now I have one week before its due and this isn’t going to be good!’.

But, of course, there is sometimes that perfect, smooth, rolling start that made me feel like a Craig Lowndes ripping it down Conrod Straight during the Bathurst 1000 and this was similar to some facets of my start of university. I had my ups and downs; however the ups were definitely more prevalent than the downs!

Probably the main pearl of wisdom that I can give any school-leaver is to become knowledgeable in the USQ StudyDesk. Realistically, it has everything you need to pass the courses you are studying. There will be the lecture slides, the tutorial information, the study and introductory book, messages from the lecture and many other bits and pieces that you will find necessary to survive your first semester of university!

Have a decent understanding of the StudyDesk and all of its ins and outs, so that you can have a fair go at finding information throughout semester. You don’t want to finally understand how it all works by the end of semester, especially not after that 50% assignment is due, which had all the information on StudyDesk, but you weren’t able to find it because you had no idea where to look…

During school, I presume your school email wasn’t as important as your email for university will be. A great amount of the information you need for your learning will be sent through email.  Regularly checking your email is a great way to stay up-to-date with all your study requirements and find out what’s happening.

A surprising aspect of uni is the laid-back, easy nature of many of my lecturers: first name basis, happy to have chats during the breaks, and all round nice genuine people! I know, shocking. I even had a lecturer buy me pizza once (long story). So, just remember, lecturers are friends, not food.

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Finding Nemo reference, come on! Surely you get it!?

The last thing that I want to mention is the importance of the lecture slides that you will be using each week. Many students find it useful to go over them before the lecture, so they have a grasp at what they will be learning that day, or to print them off and highlight and elaborate on the dot points that are already on the slides. This is a perfect way to learn and retain the information that is received during a lecture.

I hope these hints have enlightened and helped you understand the bits and pieces that are different, and yet similar between high school and university study and life!

A balancing act: Studying, travelling, living!


There’s no denying that university study can take up a lot of your time and leave you trying to make that difficult decision between a beer at the pub with your mates or reading that textbook chapter that you should have done yesterday.  In fact, if I were to add up the amount of time I’ve spent pondering such difficult decisions (for me it is travel versus study!) I’d probably be very surprised!  But I am a traveller and if I kept my feet firmly on the ground every time I had an assignment that was due, or a quiz to study for, I would be missing out on enjoying the other part of my life.  There definitely is a lot of work that goes into being a successful student, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy life as well!


I live overseas (in Istanbul, Turkey) and often find myself distracted by new places in the city to explore that I’ve only just heard about or cheap airfares to a destination I’ve already been dreaming about!  I’m also distracted when the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, or The Mentalist is released.  And then there was the rare type of snow (thundersnow – yes, it is a real thing!) that recently fell on this beautiful city – I just had to go out and play in that!  Having previously tried to ignore such wonderful distractions, I found that I was becoming a bore (in my own words of course – my friends were too kind to tell me this!) and was heading towards burnout.  And that’s why I made the decision to live a little too.  I am a person after all and being a student is only one part of me – I am a Grey’s Anatomy fan (to name but one tv show!) and traveller extraordinaire as well!


There was a time last semester when I was trying to write an assignment and getting nowhere.  I just couldn’t get ‘in the zone’ and the hours were slowly (very slowly!) ticking away.  I was drowning in persistence, but progress was non-existent.  Eventually I had had enough and decided to watch an episode of one of my favourite tv shows.  I watched two episodes in fact.  And you know what?  Right after that I was transported into ‘the zone’ and I was able to write a fairly decent draft of that assignment.  It was this experience that made me realise that I had been denying myself so many of the usual relaxing times, these other things which make up ‘me’ as a person and it had affected my ability to study.  All I needed was a little fun and relaxation and I was back to being a productive student again.


But what does that mean for you, you might wonder?  Well, next time something fun comes along, don’t immediately deny yourself the occasion simply because you are a student.  Live in the moment – give yourself the gift of enjoying the other parts of your life alongside your study.  Of course you can’t do this every single time – you need to find the right balance after all.  But you can choose wisely: if you feel like going to the cinema, choose a shorter movie; if you want to go to a restaurant for dinner, choose one with fast service (and don’t order a whole bottle of wine!); if you want to take a trip abroad, choose a nearby destination to save time travelling… or do as I do and take your textbooks with you and study on the plane!


There are plenty of ways to enjoy your life while also being a dedicated and successful student and it’s really important to find the right balance.  I’d love to hear your stories and tips on the balancing act of being a student and nurturing the others parts of your life!

From terror to self-confidence at the speed of light!

Those first few days at University were without a doubt, absolutely terrifying. There is no other way to describe it, or maybe there is, and I am sure that if I put my mind to it I could think of some other suitable words to describe the feelings racing through my mind.  At the beginning of my first semester for instance, I felt fear, overwhelming dread, utter panic, trepidation and complete horror at what I had committed myself to and of course that all-encompassing doubt. Can I really do it?

Not all of it was negative though, there were also the other slightly more positive feelings that surged through my body and mind such as exhilaration, excitement, elation and plain simple joy that I had finally gone ahead and dedicated myself to study for the next few years. Very soon into my first semester and first year I was filled with the knowledge that I can do it because I was not alone, everyone else around me were in the same boat and this boat was not the Titanic, it was not sinking, and I was not going to drown in the abyss of study.

Going to University was a dream I have had my entire life. It was there in the back of my mind continuously eating away like rust on a steel pipe. So I decided to jump in boots and all.

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After all I had made up my mind that it could only go two ways, I could succeed or fail. That is 50-50 odds, not bad really. Anyway if others could do it why can’t I? The questions you have to ask yourself  are:

  • Why shouldn’t you attend university?
  • What is stopping you?
  • What could be the best and worst possible outcomes?
  • How will it change your life?

And most importantly of all

  • If you don’t do it, will you regret it for the rest of your life?

My trepidations were soon dispelled by the support that I encountered from the teaching staff, the Learning Centre (for those panic moments! And there were plenty of them!!!!) and the social network amongst the students. I had become a part of a tight knit community which was a bit like living in an episode of Friends.

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Having never experienced these frequent boosts of self-esteem before, I now wake up in the mornings and have a bowl of self-esteem with a strong coffee, and head off to University, my veins surging with self-assurance and motivation.  Along the way I very quickly discovered the all-important secrets to university life.

  1. Self-esteem: Get loads of it from wherever you can. I found lots of useful books and articles online for example: to help in this area as well  as ‘The Motivated Mind’ by Dr Raj Persaud
  2. Tell yourself every day when you get up that you are awesome and deserve to be a university student!

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In short attending University has been a lifelong ambition realised quite simply by one small decision that I made not too long ago. There is now satisfaction and fulfilment in my life all because of studying in my chosen career at USQ. Plus I have received all the unexpected benefits that came along with university life, like the friends that are going through it with me. The special moments of panic we still occasionally experience are still there, but now they are accompanied by determination.

Share your experience! What did it mean to you to study at USQ?