How to overcome a workplace that doesn’t support study

It can be hard enough keeping up with your coursework, let alone trying to juggle work as well. But what do you do if your workplace doesn’t support your study? You may not be able to change the situation completely, but chances are that there’s a couple of things you can do to make life a little bit easier, and that’s what this blog post is all about.

Read the full article here: http://social.usq.edu.au/study-work/2015/03/jodie-support-study

Building B? More like building A+! Our new Springfield building

So, the new building (Building B) at Springfield Campus is open for business, and, of course, it’s pretty cool. It’s a pretty big occasion that a lot of us have been looking forward to and I’d like to tell you a little bit about it.

This is what it looked like in January last year:

So perhaps, that isn’t all that impressive. However, get ready for the after shot…

This is what it looks like now!

It’s pretty sweet and I plan to make the most of it during my last year of study.

Read the full article here: http://social.usq.edu.au/uni-lifestyle/2015/03/nick-new-springfield-bldg

Singin’ the back to study blues again?

Ah yes! The post-holiday back to study blues. I am coming to know this song well, because at this time of year I sing it loud. For the last couple of months I have socialised, enjoyed leisure activities and relaxed to my hearts delight, but the holiday fun is all but gone… it’s now just a fading memory and we all have to step back into study mode reality!

Read the full article here: http://www.usq.edu.au/SocialHub/study-tips/2015/03/lisa-back-to-study-blues#sthash.dR74G0Ti.dpuf

New year, new resolutions?!

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s already 2015 and that Semester 1 has arrived. If all goes to plan, I’ll be graduating from my teaching degree at the end of this semester, so I have been pretty focused this week on planning for success.

I’ve decided to keep myself on track by making resolutions focused on areas such as study, health, family and travel. As all areas of my life affect my study in some way, it made sense that I would need resolutions (or ‘goals for improvement’ as I prefer to call them) in multiple areas for maximum effect. I hope that this blog post will help you to join me in making resolutions that will make a genuine difference.

Read the full article here: http://social.usq.edu.au/study-tips/2015/02/jodie-new-year-resolutions

Doc, we’ve got to go back!

As I’m sure some of you are aware, 2015 is the year that Marty McFly arrives in Hill Valley. Not only am I eagerly excited about his entry, I am also excited for the fashion that we are expected to be wearing in October this year.

Okay… so yeah, not great. However, if we get rid of the man-bun, how many of us will really be disappointed?

Read the full article here: http://social.usq.edu.au/study-tips/2015/03/nick-we-have-to-go-back

How to network your way into a job

graduation goals - networking towards a careerAnybody else looking forward to this moment?

A big part of studying at university is networking. We don’t only want the piece of paper once we finish our degrees, do we? We also want to have developed networks within our chosen field by the end of our degree, because this might make it a tad easier to actually get a job at the end of the day. I don’t know about you, but I definitely want a job at the end of my degree!

There are a number of ways to use networking as a tool to help you gain employment, but these are the some of the ways I’ve used networking to further my career.

Your peers at uni
Creating and using the contacts you make while at university is important. This doesn’t only apply to your university lecturers, who obviously are within your field of study, but also your university peers, who you may just bump into a number of times after uni is finished. Having a relationship with your peers can be beneficial if they find a job in the same organisation or field you are trying to break into. A good word from someone already on the inside can be the foot in the door you need, and we’ve all heard the expression, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’.

Work experience
It’s also important to try and work in a related field while studying. For myself, I am working at an Outside School Care as an Educator, looking after children from a range of backgrounds, ages and developmental abilities. This suits me, as I’m hoping to get a job at Kids Helpline next year and, along with my work with Lifeline, this is a perfect stepping stone towards my chosen career path. I have met many like-minded individuals through work, including a number of peers who are studying psychology (like me), education and child services.

Volunteering
If you’re unable to gain a paid job in a related field to the degree you’re studying, volunteering is always an option that will enable you to gain work experience that will help you attain paid employment in future.

digital networking

Technology
A good way to create and maintain the contacts you make during your degree, work experience or by volunteering is via the social media site LinkedIn. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically the professional version of Facebook. People can visit your page and find out your career aspirations and desires and your tertiary qualifications. If you haven’t checked it out, do it now!

After all, we are in the technology age, and I don’t think it would surprise anyone if I say that technology is likely to have a massive impact on nearly every profession in the following years. As a psychology student who volunteers as a Telephone Crisis Supporter for Lifeline, I see evidence of this every week. Similarly, some psychology therapy sessions actually happen over webcam or the phone, due to people living in rural areas of the country.

So, being up-to-date with technology is definitely a necessity for networking with peers.

Connecting with peers during your degree and making industry contacts via work experience, volunteering and by using technology are all valuable ways of networking that will help you get job at the end of your degree.  I know they’ve definitely helped me!

The slippery slope of mummy self-doubt

Making the decision to study at university was initially easy and very exciting, but then I came to realise that I may have less time to spend with my family because of the amount of time that was required to succeed at uni. Before long, it became apparent that there were many obstacles to overcome and by far the biggest of these were the ‘guilt’ and the ‘self-doubt’ hurdles. Like so many other uni students, I have been a mother 24/7 for many years. I have been busy taking my children to school, picking them up, taking them to after-school activities and, of course, the obligatory after-school sports that they love so much.

I don’t have any regrets about balancing study with family life, but I struggled with the feeling of guilt. Before I started studying, I wondered for months whether I should devote the next three years of my life to something that I want. What would happen to all those little things at home? You know, the everyday tasks that need to be completed, like the ironing, cleaning, washing (including the dog), paying the bills and, of course, the cooking.

slippery slope of mummy self doubtEven while the guilt raged inside me, deep down I knew that I did deserve to study because it has been my lifelong dream. I realised that all those house chores will still be there when I finish studying–it is not going anywhere–and in the grand scheme of things…It doesn’t matter! As for that lost family time… My family will always be family. They love and support me in my adventures and, in the long run, completing a degree will benefit my family. With these considerations in mind, I convinced myself that with a lot of careful time management skills I would be able to spend quality time with my family as well as studying.

The next step was to overcome the self-doubt that was eating me up inside. The questions I found myself asking included:

  • Can I do it (the hard work)
  • Will I be able to do it (for three years) and
  • Can I succeed?

I have found that the best way to deal with these questions is to find what motivates me. Over the last two years of studying my degree, my motivation has come in many forms:

  • My family
    I am doing this for them!  To give them something to aspire to and, as I said earlier, to benefit the family as a whole.
  • Myself!
    I want to study for my own piece of mind and to develop my self-confidence and self-esteem. I am constantly telling myself that I can do it, that I am able to do it and that I will succeed!
  • My friends
    My friends are a wealth of motivation with their: ‘you go girl’s and their ‘you can do it’s!
  • My peers
    My fellow students have provided me with massive doses of reassurance and support as we have travelled together down our separate study paths.
  • Release of results
    I find that regular boosts of motivation also come when my assignment and exam marks come back. Yippee!

welcome to motivation

As for those chores around the house… mid-semester breaks, mid-year break and end of year breaks sort all that out! It usually only takes a couple of days and I can see the floor at home again. A few days more and I can actually see over the ironing pile, and after only one day spent in the garden, I no longer have to fear my children may be eaten alive by possible tigers, hyenas and lions roaming in the wilderness otherwise known as my backyard. The semester breaks are also great for catching up with friends over a long hot coffee (love that coffee), shopping trips (any excuse really) and long lunches (we usually have so much to say). Uni breaks are also great for family catch-ups as well, although I find that with very careful time management I really don’t miss out on anything throughout the semester; it is all a matter of planning. Just sort out the important dates and activities and study around them!

So if there is any ‘self-doubt or guilt hurdles’ in your study plans, remember why you are doing it or why you want to do it. It is either for you or your family or both, and let me tell you from experience, they are both so worth it!

-Lisa

The heat is on: stay cool and ace Semester 3 study!

For those of you living in Australasia or regions with similar climates, you’ll certainly have noticed the temperatures starting to soar. It’s not too bad but trouble is, it’s difficult to stay glued to your chair long enough to focus and get some serious study done. Add to that the extra pressure created by there being fewer weeks in Semester 3 and I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you started to second-guess your decision to take on study when everyone else is on holidays. But fret not, my dear reader, as I have a few tips to help you keep your cool (literally and figuratively!) to make sure you ace Semester 3 study this year!

keep calm and beat the heat

Location, location, location!
Let’s start by looking at the physical temperature. It’s hot, plain and simple. But before you drip sweat on your keyboard and watch the power board fry out, grab your study basics and head out somewhere with a breeze or air conditioning. If you have no trouble focusing with a bit of noise and movement around you, a café makes for a great spot to get your work done. Many cafés offer free Wi-Fi and of course you can get your coffee on at the same time to keep you awake! You can even throw in a generous slice of baked cheesecake (my all-time favourite) to reward yourself as you make progress (remember my previous post about the importance of rewards)!

cheesecake - study reward
If you’re easily distracted like me, you might prefer a quieter location such as the library (followed by a trip to a café for cheesecake once you’ve finished studying!). If you live near a uni campus you can always head there, but if you’re like me and are much too far away, you can go to the local public library to enjoy the cooler, quieter conditions. They will probably even have somewhere for you to plug in your laptop if needed.

Keeping up with the Jones’s
So now that we’ve got the environment sorted, let’s take a look at the shorter semester. There’s no denying that you’re going to need to be a bit more organised than usual if you want to keep your grades up while covering the same amount of material covered during longer semesters, especially when you consider the shorter mid-semester break with Christmas and New Year’s Eve right in the middle. It’s definitely achievable though, especially if you’re used to taking 3 or 4 subjects during a regular semester. Start by looking at your course’s study guide. Some course examiners will have already set out week to week ‘to do’ lists and goals for you. Keep to these targets (or better yet, exceed them) and you will do fine.

to do list

But what happens if you can’t keep up with the pace that has been set? You always have the option to drop out of the subject for now and take it again another semester. There’s certainly no shame in doing that, just be sure to check the official uni drop dates to ensure you don’t receive any unexpected financial or academic penalties for doing so (you usually have a couple of weeks grace period from when semester starts, within which you won’t be penalised for dropping a subject).

Semester 3 might not be the easiest semester with all that tends to be going on in our personal and work lives at this time of year but it can be a rewarding one. Class sizes are smaller which means you get to know your fellow students that bit more and, most importantly, you will be able to graduate sooner, or take fewer courses during Semesters 1 and 2). Studying during Semester 3 also means that you remain in the study zone and don’t develop unhelpful habits over the summer months. If you can make it work for you, I would definitely recommend making the most of this opportunity.

studying at uni - the heat is on

Happy learning and lots of success to everyone studying during semester 3!

How to make the most of your summer (while still having fun)!

Summer Loving Efficiency

SUmmer LOving, Grease - Sandy and DannyWhen you think about it, if Danny and Sandy spent less time over summer floundering on the beach and more time productively working towards their future, they probably wouldn’t have got caught up in all the gangs and drama they did.

I was one of the lucky students who never had to study over summer semester, so I was silly and did a Danny.  I spent my first summer off playing xBox and chilling with my ‘gang,’ but soon realised I hadn’t done myself any favours.  With hindsight in mind, here’s some options for you, so you don’t waste your four-month break.

1 – MAKE THAT PAPER
Going to university and the arduous study at home can really get in the way of consistent hours at work.  Having no money sucks, so don’t miss the opportunity to earn some hard dosh while you’ve got time during the week.

So much money! Spend wisely

Also, don’t be a giddy goat and spend everything you make.  Put some away and save towards a holiday, or just keep it as a back-up stash for next semester.

2 – GET OUT AND ABOUT
If you do happen to have money after Semester 2, get out and splash it (responsibly).  It doesn’t have to be as eccentric as going on a Contiki trip around the Greek Islands, but even a trip to Sydney or Melbourne can clear your head and serve as a reward for your hard work at uni.

Summer holidays - travel to ItalyYou might cause some jealousy among your friends with your Facebook photos, but you can always rectify that with some souvenirs.

3 – BE IMPRESSIVE
Summer is the perfect time to get ahead of your classmates and potentially impress a couple of industry professionals.  Get the feelers out early and butter someone up for a week’s work or even more at a company you want to work for.  Whether it’s an internship or volunteering, even if you don’t get paid, you’d be surprised how far making coffee for a week will take you in the long run.

Gandalf LOTR internships

Pro Tip: LinkedIn is the tinder of employment, get on that boat!

4 – DIY STUDY
Just because you aren’t enrolled in a subject over summer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up to scratch with your learning.  If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, and by ‘it’ I mean the urge to study.  It’s hard to come back from four months off and it can be a real drag to get re-motivated.  The library is still open over summer, so maybe just schedule a few hours a week to hire a textbook and keep it fresh.

I have no idea what I'm doing

5 – HAVE FUN!
After grilling poor old Danny and Sandra D earlier, I do admit that you should flounder about on a beach every now and then.  You should also play a bit of xBox and spend time with friends.  The same as you would if you had uni, practice a good work/life balance and make time for everything.  If you are organised, you can fit all five of these things into four months easily, so if you haven’t already, GET ON LINKEDIN!!  You’ll thank me later.

LinkedIn is the new Tinder

Until next time,
Tom

Getting back into study? Tips for when you haven’t studied for a while

It’s a big step to make the decision to get back into study when you haven’t studied in a while… it can be overwhelming in fact. If you’re not careful, you can fall victim to the fears, trepidations and reservations that are in the back of your mind and this can cause you to panic. It can make you start to doubt yourself and question whether it’s all worthwhile, but I can assure you that it is. You may experience challenges and have some fears about studying again, but there are many ways to overcome them and yes, even beat them back into submission.

time management to reduce stress1. Time management
The first challenge that you may encounter will be the managing your time. Trying to sort out the ‘how am I going to fit everything in’, ‘when is everything due’, ‘where do I have to be and what is it that I have to do’? This can be a tough one to figure out when you haven’t studied for a while, but it is quite simple really.

Solution: have a diary, write everything in it and carry it with you everywhere or, when at home, draw up a study management timetable with all the important how, when, where and what info on it. I will be the first to admit that I can’t live without my study plan, because sometimes there is just not enough room in my head to remember everything. My study timetable is my best friend. It tells the how, where, when and what, a bit like having a good friend to guide you all day long and take the weight off your shoulders.

take the weight off your shoulders2. Not having any friends
Challenge number two is the ‘No friends’ challenge. This is the one where you think that nobody will talk to you and you will feel all alone in a large room full of people. I know that I could tell you that it’s all in your head, but you won’t believe me, so I won’t say it.

Solution: Develop a network, which is a small group of people you can talk to about your assignments and lectures and who you can swap notes with. If you take the time to look around a lecture theatre, you’ll notice that there are plenty of people in the room all probably thinking the same thing as you. Just talk to them casually and when you see them next time strike up a conversation about anything that you may have in common i.e.: classes. Before you know it, you will have a network. I have always been the oldest person in every class at uni, so naturally this challenge was a big concern for me when I first started. But when waiting outside for lectures to start, I just chatted to the other much younger students about the course or assignments (this is an easy one to get another student talking) and bingo! Now in the second year, I always have someone to talk to and have coffee with… I have a network!

3. Technology
Challenge number three is the ‘Technology’ challenge. If you haven’t studied in a while, you are more than likely scared out of your wits about this one. But fear not: it looks hard to understand but it is really very simple and you will need to be able to use it, because universities use computer technology extensively. I speak from experience when I say that it’s easier than it looks.

Solution: The USQ library has sessions at the beginning of each semester on how to use the library resources, including technology. This is an excellent place to start. But if you have some basic knowledge, don’t forget that trusty information source: Goggle. Type in what you want to know into the search bar, for example how to use features in Word, Excel or Powerpoint, and up it pops. I knew very little about computers when I first started at uni, so I decided to sit myself down one day before I started and I fiddled, fidgeted and clicked on every tab in these programs just to see what they did. Before I knew it, I had a fairly good grasp of how things worked and as for the rest, I just used a Google search or if I’m totally frustrated, I ask another student for help.

USQ learning centre4. Getting help
Challenge number four is the ‘Help’ challenge. This is the one where you have hit a snag in you studies or you have a few problems or difficulties handling things and aren’t sure where to turn for help or support.

Solution: If you’re hitting that brick wall, turn to USQ’s Learning Centre for course work-related questions, your lecturers for questions specific to your course, Student Services for those more personal problems and your Student Relationship Officer. Put plain and simple, there is always someone out there who can help… they may even be sitting next to you in a lecture. Just ask! You won’t be the first or last to need support. I have proudly used the Learning Centre for course difficulties, in particular… the dreaded statistics. They have sat with me many times and explained things in a way that I could understand. I don’t think I would have passed some of my courses if not for the assistance my lecturers have given me by setting up consultation meetings with them.

5. Expectations
Challenge number five is the ‘Expectations’ challenge. This is the challenge where you have very high expectations of yourself. You know the one, where you try to do a thousand things at once, expect perfect marks and never say ‘no’ to people and, when it doesn’t work out, you crash and burn.

Solution: Value your achievements! Don’t judge your progress solely on the marks you are given for assignments. Instead, value what you have learned during the process of your degree and certainly, under no circumstances, judge yourself on the results of other students. I personally am very guilty of this one when I spend every waking moment on course and assignments, all the while trying desperately to participate in everything that family and friends ask of me (it’s really hard to say no) and I have found that you have to find that special balance between the two.

The main goal of getting back into study after a long period of time is to learn and to add to your life experiences. So relish every moment, don’t panic and stay calm.