Why my degree was right for me

Once upon a time, when I was a wee lad, a huge storm broke over the horizon. Gusts of wind picked up and threw everything around in its path, including our family trampoline. We woke the next day to discover our trampoline had landed on the roof of a neighbouring house across the road. Some years later, that same neighbour greeted me on my first day at university as a lecturer.

Tom's trampoline after stormLooking back, that was probably just coincidence and not really fate. However, there were some key indicators over the years that reminded me I was studying the right degree for me. One of these was the style of learning. At school, I really struggled with maths because I couldn’t apply myself practically. Had Applied Media been a textbook-based course, I don’t know that I would have made it through. Luckily, my course was much more like physical education than maths, meaning you couldn’t really be marked on anything you couldn’t physically create. It is always different for everyone, but this was a huge plus for me.

One thing I never did at school was hand in an assignment early. Maybe it was the thrill of pushing the limits of deadlines, maybe it was just laziness. Something must have clicked at university, because I handed my first assignment in one week early. This unprecedented event was rewarded with a 7 (High Distinction) and an enlarged ego. I was so excited about handing in assignments I seemed to forget… I WAS EXCITED ABOUT HANDING IN ASSIGNMENTS! Who had I become? Was this maturity or had I been brainwashed? It couldn’t just be because I enjoyed the work I was doing, could it…?

If you’re anything like me, the first time you went to Dreamworld you refused to leave the gates at 5pm. I’m not going to lie, that’s exactly how I felt at the end of my degree. Not to say knowing I’d never have to hand in an assignment again wasn’t a great feeling, but I was left with an empty void. Having spent three years at USQ, I felt like I was leaving a massive part of myself behind on graduation day. The first thing I did after I graduated was search for post-graduate degrees and similar courses I could study just so I could stay.

But it wouldn’t have been the same. Much like watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you can try and recreate the magic of the first time you saw the films on the big screen, but it will never be the same. Frodo didn’t get to the top of Mount Doom and say ‘let’s do that again.’ Instead, he got on a boat with Gandalf and began a new adventure, cherishing the memory of his nine-hour, multi-million dollar, blockbuster quest.

End of LOTR trilogySo, I figure, if you cherish the memory of your university experience so much so that you consider going back just so you can relive it, you chose the right degree for you.

Until next time,
Tom.

Sucker for punishment!

Holidays? What are these “holidays” people speak of? No study, they say?

While some are celebrating the end of the university year, my fellow ‘sucker for punishment’ peers and I are oblivious to this occasion. Yep, we are the ones who chose to do Semester 3 subjects. Whilst pondering on my first university year once it was over, I calculated the months until next year’s classes commence, one… two… THREE MONTHS! Cha-ching! This was plenty of time, for me and many others, to work towards a big fat tick beside a small component of our degrees. Instead of merely doing ‘holiday stuff’ for the entire three months, on top of this, we will find ourselves sitting at the computer, watching lectures, completing assignments and absorbing content for exams. For some this may sound like an utterly mind-numbing way to spend some of the summer period, but the way I look at it is… studying is just another hobby to fulfil this time bracket. Yep, does it make me crazy if I say I enjoy it? Besides, we don’t have to spend the WHOLE time studying. If we did, that’s definitely CRAZE-AY!

The one subject I have chosen revolves around a big word in a teacher’s dictionary… assessment. It has been interesting to discover the different aspects on this topic and I can definitely see it becoming applicable later on in my career. The ways I have prepared and chosen to get through it (aside from consuming half of the Cadbury factory) include:

  • Adhering with the allocated study schedule – by gauging your learning around this, last minute panic when assessment is due is less likely to occur. There is nothing worse than last minute cramming for assignments and exams!
  • Setting a goal and sticking to it by creating a timetable – due to the lighter workload in Semester 3, there is opportunity to assign simply one whole day a week towards study, matching it to your study schedule. This will form a routine, which increases the likeliness of the work getting done. Plus the rest of the week off – score! If this isn’t possible, break it up over a few days, yet ensure to keep on track with this each week. Saying ‘I’ll do it later’ tends to fold, and later ends up being too late! (Not at all speaking from experience :P)
  • Allowing time for “fun stuff” – those who follow my blogs would know by now that I’m a strong believer in taking breaks and having time out for yourself. Make sure there are enjoyable events scribbled in your timetable. That way, we aren’t completely isolated from the holidayers! On top of this, we have something to look forward to and reward us. After all, Christmas is unbelievably just around the corner. Something like a whopping 5 weeks and 36 sleeps away (not even counting!).

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I’ve chosen to participate in these “holidays” too by having “fun stuff” planned within this period. In between studying and working in a clothes store, I will spend my time going to a couple of concerts, celebrating a birthday with my twin brother, and eating A LOT around Christmas time. For the rest of the time, I will go with the flow and see where the time takes me. After all, we can’t let studying this time of year get in the way of having a break!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and for those doing Semester 3 – Happy Studying!

Kristie :)

Hello Holidays!

What time is it? It’s holiday time!!!

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With the semester two exam season now at a close, the sighs of relief can be heard echoing from students across Toowoomba, Springfield and Hervey Bay.

After completing the usual post-exam ritual of returning library books, cleaning my desk, and packing away textbooks, I found myself at a loose end – there wasn’t any more study to be done, no exams to prepare for. With all the time I now had, I worked out that in the last 256 days of the academic year, I successfully completed 8 courses towards my double degree, which involved attending approximately 104 classes (lectures and tutorials), writing 25 assignments and sitting 5 end-of-semester exams!

Although 2013 seemed to speed by so quickly, I also managed to squeeze in time for a law internship, attended networking events and also had the opportunity to travel to Sydney to represent USQ at on a national’s level. With all the major academic hurdles now behind me, I am able to kick back and enjoy the holidays.

I know many people have exciting and adventurous plans for the summer, but after a busy year of study I’m just looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some well-earned peace and quiet.

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This summer, I’m looking forward to the little things like visiting grandparents and extended family, catching up on a mountain of TV shows and movies I missed out on during the year and playing the next Call of Duty game.

This summer will also involve celebrating two significant milestones in my life – the completion of my business degree (one down, one more to go!) as well as my 21st birthday. After spending the past two consecutive summers studying, this summer break has been a long time coming and it’ll be nice to have some time off to rest up before my final year of study at USQ!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

The pre-exam lull

It’s easy enough to notice how quickly the semester has passed. For most of us (the engineering students at least), the bulk of the assignment work has passed and now is the time to refocus because of the looming exams. Before that is the “in-between”, the break, the calm before the storm. If you are an education student, however, I’d say you know the storm pretty well right now from floods of assignment work, so here’s a chance to just sit back and laugh in the face of exams you may never have to face (that’s what my friends do anyway…). For the rest of us, I thought it would be appropriate to ‘refresh’ our perspective on exams in this blog. Exciting huh.

The most common attitude to exams that I see, and one with which we are most familiar, is the constant dread. It reminds me of some of the shows I watched during my childhood. Early into the piece, the main character is introduced to the monster, usually coming out of the dark, maybe a trap door entrance to their lair. The unknown scares the character but he or she finds some sort of inner strength. Finally, despite the overwhelming fear, our champion would take the plunge into the pit, only to find that the “monster” was as scared as he was, worried by the threat of the incoming warrior. Before the end of the half hour, our two characters – the protagonist and the antagonist become friends.

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I think our fear of exams is much like the story, we fear them and dread them, worry over our results and sweat over the last couple of concepts that are impossible to pin down (although, to say we become friends would definitely be a stretch). However, at the end of the day we always pull through, semester after semester, year after year, we are still here.

Personally, I love this time of year, mostly for the reasons stated in the illustration above. I relish the opportunity to face the giant and come up against the trial. If you are competitive (I am, just in case you hadn’t realised), it is a great opportunity to better yourself. To challenge yourself to be better and finish stronger than ever before. I mean, we’ve only been preparing for 16 weeks.

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So, despite the apparent calm, now is the best time to be preparing. Going over past exams, notes, self-assessment questions and everything in between. This is a great opportunity to spend 3 weeks with heads down and to see great reward from the work that we are doing. So turn the cricket off (if you have been watching the Ryobi Cup like myself) and get a plan going for study. And if you need motivation, just think: holidays are just around the corner.

Until next time,
Josh

So what do they call people who aren’t students?

I ask as I am about to put my studies on hold for the first time ever. EVER.

In less than a month’s time I will lose one of my defining features. No longer will I select ‘student’ as my primary occupation on the demographic section of surveys, or flash my ID card for discounts at the movies. My days spent studying/chatting/sleeping in the library are numbered and I may well have had my final picnic (for many months anyway) in the Toowoomba campus quad. The most astounding thing, which definitely hasn’t hit me yet, is the fact that I won’t constantly have assignment due dates in the back of my mind or exam study looming over me. My diary will be devoid of highlighted study reminders, my USB will lose its ‘Uni’ folder, and many trees will be saved from all the journal articles I won’t have to print.

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It’s a freaky feeling to be putting my tertiary education aside but, after much deliberation, I have decided that it is time for a break. I feel like I’m ending a relationship: ‘it’s not you, USQ, it’s me – and I need some space’. Twelve years of schooling followed immediately by a three years’ bachelor degree have taken their toll on my sanity and stress levels (especially as my bachelor’s degree included two doses of summer semester and thus no real Christmas breaks). And then they were followed by this year. Honours year, which is due to be finished in a month (…tell that to my two outstanding assignments and thesis – so close but yet so far it seems!). Sixteen years of being a non-stop student. And to think that at the start of this year I was planning on applying for the 2014 master’s program as well, which would have brought the count to 18 years!

I guess the dilemma which is faced by many goes along the lines of ‘well if I stop studying now to _____ (work full-time/travel/have a family/become a lion tamer and run off with the circus), then will I ever return to obtain the education and qualifications that I want?’ Coming out of high school I figured I’d just ‘knock over’ the six additional years of study taken to become a registered psychologist – better that than be interrupted and lose focus on the end goal. I was naïve and didn’t realise at the time that it would take some kind of super power (that I am yet to possess) to stay focused for so long without my brain making mad attempts to escape through my ears and never come back.

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I am someone who likes to be involved in lots of things and unfortunately the life of a successful student isn’t always compatible with that. So, after many hours deliberating over what to do next year I have come to the ‘take a break’ conclusion. Though I wouldn’t pinkie promise you on it, I do think that I will return to study at USQ sooner rather than later and that time off to relax, refresh, and reassess can only be a positive thing.

So then I had to think ‘wow, well if I’m not going to be a student then what will I be?!’ ‘Well,’ I thought, ‘what better to be than an adventurer?’ I need a real break next year, and whilst I also considered full-time work, in the end travel seemed like the best option, and something that I may not get the chance to do if I go down the career path now. Added to this is the fact that I was born in the UK, have British (as well as Australian) citizenship, and have 95% of my extended family living overseas. Aside from these things, wouldn’t you choose a traveling holiday over work?! So, not being one to mess around, my flights to the UK are booked for April next year (after graduation), and my British passport is in the process of being renewed. The tentative plan at this point is to gain some work in mental health whilst in the UK and then apply for Masters in 2015 when I return to Australia, but I’m also happy to just ‘go with the flow’. Farewell to the student and hello to the happy-go-lucky explorer! Oh wait, I’d better deal with those assignments and thesis first…

So, dear reader, I have a feeling that you may hear from me again before I depart, but if you don’t then all the best on your own study journey, and perhaps you will see another blog from me in a year or so!

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Surviving semester, one movie at a time

Have you ever wished life was more like movies? I most definitely have! As a lover of superhero and sci-fi movies, I am envious of the superpowers, magical items and abilities which are used to overcome adversity and save the day. With the semester well past the half-way point, assessments have begun to pile up and time seems to be running ever-shorter. In this week’s blog I’ll be sharing my top five abilities, qualities and materials from movies I’d wish for as a student to survive this semester.

A “pause button” for everyday life

In the movie Click, Adam Sandler buys a universal remote which (to his surprise) can pause time, fast forward and manipulate the universe around him. With many students juggling work, study and a social life, time is scarce. With a “pause button” for life, you’ll be able to get the most out of every moment – adequately prepare for lectures and complete assignments ahead of time whilst being able to go out and work solid hours. While I continue my search for a universal remote, the best thing for students is to become experts in juggling work with study – check out a recent post by USQ Blogger Georgina who shares her experience in finding the work/study balance (http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/to-work-or-not-to-work/).

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The ability to learn really quickly

I can safely say that EVERY student wants to be able to learn really quickly! In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays a character who discovers a supplement which allows him to understand and learn quickly with ease. Unfortunately, not everyone has a photographic memory and when it comes to exam study many students spend countless hours cramming. Once again, although this ability is wishful thinking to most, effectively juggling study through building timetables can be an effective way to learn course material in the lead up to exam block.

A cure for indecisiveness

When it comes to university study, many decision are to be made – What degree will I study? Will I study full-time or part-time? Recently a dilemma I’ve been facing is deciding between what electives I will choose for my final year of university. In the first Harry Potter film, students were grouped into houses when the sorting hat was placed on their heads. As an indecisive student, I would love to have something like the sorting hat to help make those tricky decisions.

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If, like me, you are having troubles deciding which of the variety of electives available you want to take, check out Georgina’s blogpost on electives within her Psychology Degree (http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/eclectic-electives-why-my-degree-resembles-an-ice-cream-3/).

Time travel

The ability to travel back to the past and see forward into the future has been the subject of many movies, such as the Back to the Future series. As a law student, I would love the ability to go back in time and experience some of the landmark events in Australia’s history – including federation in 1901, to witness the Mabo decision and the removal of the Whitlam government in 1975. On the same token, I would be so amazing to see what developments the future has in store – will Australia become a Republic? Will Australia adopt a Bill of Rights? Will Queensland ever get daylight savings?!?

A Money Tree

Whilst not directly from movies, the number one item on most students’ wish list is for money to grow on trees. Juggling full-time study and an internship quickly fills the calendar and leaves limited time free for work. Although the idea of a money tree is wishful thinking, scholarships are available to university students which can assist by providing financial support. Whether you are a current university student or planning on studying sometime in the future, scholarships are absolutely worth applying for! Check out one of my previous blogs about scholarships, covering how to apply and resolving the many myths associated with eligibility (http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/scholarship-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow/).

Now that I’ve shared my movie-inspired wish list, what things would you wish for?

Jordan

I did not sign up for the circus…

In my last post about working I mentioned that I would write a bit more about managing costs and study load. It really is a juggling act…

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The other point I took from the study I mentioned last time (http://dro.deakin.edu.au/eserv/DU:30006689/Devlin-studyingandworkingjournalarticle.pdf) was that students aren’t merely working to ‘fund a lifestyle’ (i.e. most of us aren’t just after a bit of extra money so that we can party every weekend whilst wearing the latest ‘threads’ and drive a ‘pimped out’ car).  Apparently most of us have found that we need to work in order to provide for everyday needs. And what makes up the bulk of our costs? Rent, food and other household bills (anybody out there surprised?). So it looks like the bottom-line is that, like it or not, most students will need to work to some extent during their degree. If you’re one of the lucky (or talented) minority that have overly-generous parents or can budget like nobody’s business then you can stop right here – as the remainder of this post will be for those who bravely take on the dual role of student and worker. We’ll look at costs, and budgeting (*all sigh sadly*).

Know your expected costs beforehand

Most people know that it helps to have regular money coming in. But plenty of students (myself included) don’t have a full idea of where their moolah will be going out. “How dare you exchange yourself for two movies, a dinner outing and a new dress this week money?!” I will often ask. It is not uncommon for me to spend more than I’d intended because I haven’t properly thought out the best use for my hard-earned cash. So, know the basic (i.e. compulsory and boring) costs of being a student. USQ has a pretty handy clip for those considering/about to commence study that outlines most of these costs (and also suggests ways to manage them): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Fs3apNdb4.

If you can stick to just earning enough to pay the bills (always leaving plenty of time to study), then well done – but you are probably not a real-life person. Of course we want to have the $ for a social life and a ‘savings’ account (do these accounts exist?). But really the question to ask ourselves is ‘what is important to me right now?’ Is it more valuable to: a) leave enough time to study properly, understand the course content and submit assignments you’re happy with (avoiding last-minute stress), or b) work lots of additional hours so you can either spend more or put a lot of money away right now?

Of course there is no correct answer, and most people go for a happy medium. For me though, as a full-time student, I had to realise that I have ‘student’ listed as my main occupation – and that this alone should indicate where the most of my time should be spent. So I had to understand my most crucial costs (which, as someone still living at home, aren’t as high as many students) and work from there. Now when I get paid I don’t think first of the possibilities, but the responsibilities, and the need for ‘uni time’ (gosh I am sounding like a parent/policewoman/fictional character rather than a twenty-one year-old here!). Usually these initial thoughts of proper spending/saving disappear once I’m invited on a road trip or dinner date though… I hope you will have more success than I…

Can anyone say ‘bargain’?! It pays to be a cheapskate…

I won’t go into too much depth here as for me ‘student’ is pretty much synonymous with ‘save every cent you can and do not pay one dollar more than you have to for anything’. If saving sixty dollars by sourcing ‘vintage’ clothing or packing your own lunches means that you can work a few hours less each week, then bring on the op-shopping, trips to the DFO, second-hand textbooks, home cooking, loyalty cards, discount books, clothes-swapping and two-for-one deals! There are so many great money-saving initiatives being dreamt up every day, and they’re there to be taken advantage of :)
I would highly recommend a read of Nick’s latest instalment (a hilarious and thrifty USQ blogger himself) which can be found at http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/take-a-study-break-for-10/. It lists ways you can enjoy yourself for under $10. I would also add to ‘trivia nights’ to Nick’s list. Many are free, most are very cheap, and lots are accompanied by prizes, food deals, and a few hours of laughter (plus you’re probably learning something…). The poster below is one example ($50 for a team of six with profits going to charity!) but there are plenty more trivia nights out there held regularly.

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So my friends, whilst my rambling has probably added to your confusion, just keep in mind that no one expects a student to be rich. And, if passing your course means missing a much-needed work shift, remember that water is free and that you can always buy a kilo of rice for $2.33 at Coles (and that’s not even on special).

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Taking a breather

Did anyone else feel like a switch was flicked as soon as their last assessment piece was submitted? I know I did. For me this assessment piece was an online quiz and the instant the ‘submit answers’ button was clicked, I could feel the smile emerge from one of my ears to the other. From that moment, I had transformed from a stressed and irritable university student to a contented and relieved ‘uni bum’. The best word I can think of to describe that feeling of having the bare minimum to do for a whole three weeks is bliss.

And that’s just about what I’ve done – nothing. Well not nothing, but the necessities blended with spending time with family and friends, some gradual spring (or winter, whichever you would prefer) cleaning, and some shopping (of course!). I have also been receiving my results progressively and the picture below that USQ shared with us all on Facebook describes my reaction to these perfectly. Can anybody relate?

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Being a residential college student, I am open to lots of activities and events. There are some stand-out moments from Semester 1 that I’d like to share.

Semi Formal

On the 24th of May Steele Rudd held their annual semi formal and this year’s theme was Disney. Once again the kitchen staff provided a delicious three course meal and our college committee organised an enjoyable night for everyone. I went as Snow White and below I am pictured with Sophia (AKA Pocahontas) who received “Best Dressed Female” on the night.

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 Res Shield

Thanks to the Residential Colleges’ sports coordinators, all three colleges compete in a range of sporting events throughout the year, known as Res Shield. Below is a picture of myself and others from Steele Rudd College at the soccer game. Rules were altered a little so that boys didn’t have a huge advantage over girls. Some say this was unfair (mainly the males) but I didn’t complain :P Although Steele Rudd ended up last on the night we all had a ball – both players and supporters!

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Now I plan to spend my last week of holidays at the beach and do what every person loves to do best – relax! Needless to say shopping will also be involved. Following this will be purchasing textbooks and having a look through Study Desk to see what lies ahead for me in Semester 2. One thing I learnt from last semester is that staying on top of things goes a long way, and by following the study schedules and keeping on track, you will be saved from a whole lot of stressing at the last minute (I learnt this the hard way).

The best advice I have received and can pass on to you during this time (although it’s nearly all over) is – unwind, reenergise and do what you love to do best when you have the chance to do it. Watch lots of movies, read your favourite book (a better substitution to textbooks), or maybe even go out and do something adventurous for the day. Mainly, just take advantage of this spare time that you usually don’t have. This will not only give you a boost but you will then walk into Semester 2 feeling refreshed and prepared.

Being the soccer fanatic I am, I relate this point of the year to halftime in a soccer match; you’ve finished the first half and now you have the chance to reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and how to improve on the setbacks you experienced. If you’re unhappy with how you went in the first part of the match, there’s always the second half to reach the results you desire, as long as you’re prepared to bring determination to the game!

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Hope you all enjoy the remainder of the holidays and all the best for Semester 2!

Kristie :)

My Summer Job

“The only source of knowledge is experience”

Albert Einstein

With the completion of semester two marking and three full years of university study completed, I was now well over half-way through my double-degree program. As the end of my studies was drawing increasingly closer, I have been searching for opportunities to gain practical experience to support the topics and theories discussed in my courses from semesters past.

Unfortunately, the hard part about trying to find a job/intern position in particular industries, is the fact that most employers desire an employee with industry experience. As a student, we are often faced with the age-old dilemma (as pictured below) to get a job we need experience, but to gain experience, we need a job.

Job Experience

To find a resolution to this dilemma, I contacted a Career Learning Consultant on-campus to see if there were any industry experience or volunteer opportunities available during the summer break. From there I was told of a wonderful opportunity to attain practical experience for my marketing studies, through the business component of my program through enrolling in a work integrated learning course.

Work integrated learning is an opportunity to experience applied aspects of working in a particular industry related to a student’s area of study – enhancing learning through the application of concepts, theories and graduate skills to their set workplace activities. Additionally, the benefit of taking this course lies in the fact that the industry experience imparted through this program will also enhance employment opportunities beyond graduation.

So why should students take up work integrated learning during their university studies? Here are the top five reasons why:

1.  Industry contacts

Networking is a great way to help attain a graduate position after completing university studies. Through undertaking work integrated learning, students work in collaboration with real-world businesses and organisations – granting students regular contact with industry leaders and individuals, with a wealth of experience in their particular field. Through establishing positive contacts with these individuals, there is potential for future employment opportunities with the industry leaders or their organisation for students in their graduate years.

2. Your experience looks good on your resume

Ultimately, employers looking to hire university graduates often look toward the student’s experiences beyond their university study in finding a suitable employee. For this reason, a first-hand experience in the industry has the potential to give a student the upper hand in applying for graduate positions in competing for positions with other university graduates state-wide (and sometimes even nation-wide!).

3.Apply your academic knowledge to industry skills

This is the essence of work integrated learning. By providing an opportunity for students to collaborate with real-world organisations to showcase and apply their acquired knowledge, students are able to experience and practice first-hand the relevance of their studies within their prospective industry.

4. The experience will allow you to narrow down your list of potential career.

Work integrated learning allows students to have a taste of the kind of work, duties and responsibilities required of an individual in a particular industry. Through this, students will have a greater understanding of the industry they are placed in and will therefore be better able to make a judgement on whether they would enjoy a career in their particular industry.

5. Unforgettable life experience

In light of the quote by Albert Einstein above, every experience is an opportunity to expand your knowledge and is therefore another reason why work integrated learning is valuable to the student’s learning.

I am now five weeks into my marketing placement where I am working alongside an advertising agency, putting my knowledge into practice in assisting to deliver particular branding materials to specific organisations – including making taglines, creating content for websites and presenting the agencies vision on how promotions should be targeted and coordinated.

I am very appreciative for this opportunity and cannot wait to see what further experiences it may offer.

My Learning Journey

Well, it’s over. The first year of my degree is over. With the end of the year coming up, what better way to reflect upon my journey so far than to share it with you….

The year just gone is my 13th year of education, in my 18 years of life. That’s over two-thirds of my life spent learning about the world, life and topics in which I am interested. It’s thousands of dollars of uniforms and stationary…it’s hundreds of teachers, lecturers and tutors…and countless quizzes, assignments and exams. I’m pretty lucky, aren’t I? According to an American study, only 6.7% of the world’s population have undertaken tertiary education, and I will become one of them. I know it’s easy to say this now since exams are over and there are no assignments to make me rethink being my decision to go to uni, but I am grateful that I am able to become part of the 6.7% of the world’s population that hung in there.

In my reflections, I asked myself what I had learnt this year (and I urge you to do the same). In my subjects this year, I have learnt everything from how to evaluate shares on the stock market, to the history of the radio. I have learnt the basics of contract law, and how to manage conflicts in the workplace. I have learnt what makes a consumer purchase a product, or how to mathematically test a hypothesis. I have been given the opportunity to understand the world a little better, in more areas than I had ever imagined. I am sure for everyone reading, whether you are at university or not, you have also learnt something this year. You may have learnt a new trick on your skateboard; you may have learnt a new song on the guitar; you may have learnt about the solar system; or you may have learnt how to read. No matter how young or old, we are all learning. I guess university is just a formal way to learn about the things you like.

During holiday time, I always try to have a bit of ‘r and r’ – reflecting and resolving. I have already done the reflecting part…so it’s time for some resolutions! When I began thinking about making some resolutions for 2013, I starting along the lines of, “I am going to begin all of my assignments as soon as I get them” and “I am not going out on the weekend if I am not up-to-date with all of my study”. (But I guess, to stick to resolutions, they have to be realistic). So instead I have come up with the following resolutions for 2013 in relation to my studies:

1. Be grateful to learn – it’s not a right, it’s an opportunity.

It is easy to get bogged down in study, and only see it as a chore that must be done. In 2013, I want to look at every assignment as an opportunity to learn and develop skills.

2. Share my own knowledge or experiences with someone who needs a helping hand.

When I look back and think about all those people who had given me advice about exams or study tips, I found that information invaluable. I want to pass on my tips and experiences to others, in the hope that it makes their journey a little easier too.

3. Take time to thank those people who, each day, help me achieve my dream

It’s simple: I admit to being ‘outwardly stressed’ (see picture below). So it’s time to say, “Sorry” and “Thank-you” to those who took the punches when times were tough.

Well, I think these resolutions are a bit more achievable… and a bit more rewarding. With a new year on the horizon, it’s a great time for everyone to have a bit of ‘r and r’. For everyone who has been lucky enough to undertake education this year: be grateful. For those who have experienced the joys of life: share these joys. For those who have been given a gift, talent or skill: use this to help those who are less fortunate than yourself.

This year, 2012, has made me realise that education is a gift, an opportunity and an honour.  So let’s celebrate our fortunes! May everyone have a safe and happy holiday (or an enjoyable third semester of study) and from the team of USQ bloggers: thank-you for your support and you will hear from us in 2013!