How to be a bad (and therefore, totally normal) mature, distance student

When you sign up to be a mature, distance student, you do so knowing it will not be an easy path. Whether your 15-20 hours of study per week are going to run alongside a 40-50 hour work week, family life, a social life; there is no illusion it will be plain sailing.

That said, I think we all sign up with the best of intentions of how well organised and dedicated we will be.

We read up on study tips, endless top ten lists of how to study well and efficiently. We promise ourselves we will rise at 5am to study and then study into the small hours. We will study on the train, in the garden. in the goddamn bathroom. We will take part in all tutorials, post like demons on forums and initiate student chats and meet ups.

And then we don’t because….life. Work piles up, you get ill, your loved one gets ill, you get sucked into a six season boxset on Netflix. Instead of turning in assignments a week before the deadline, you hit submit five minutes before that deadline is up. You may even wonder why you signed up in the first place.

Another issue with being a distance student is it is very easy to let your imagination run wild, believing everyone else on your course is fully up-to-date, sailing through and scoring in the 90s.

And I am here to say that is okay.

These things can and will happen (please feel free to add your own in the comments):

  • Using read aloud on papers because you can’t face reading another piece of text
  • Skimming over parts, or missing them out entirely, whist you play catch up
  • Using what you had put aside as study time to have a nap….which lasts six hours
  • Doodling rude things on papers you have printed out
  • Thinking about your studies whilst at work
  • Thinking about work whilst studying
  • Multitasking during online online tutorials, whilst dressed in pyjamas
  • Using your ‘must study excuse’ to get out of an event, but not actually using that time to study
  • Buying vast amounts of stationary and list books to make yourself feel better
  • Reward one paragraph of study with two gin and tonics
  • Taking your study with you on a journey and never looking at it
  • Write blog posts and not bother editing or spellchecking them

And finally, asking for help from your tutor and fellow students. Ah, I suckered you in but this is my most important lesson to date – do not isolate yourself. Students of distance study can be connected in so many ways with technology – be it the formal course forum, or a less formal Facebook group. Do not let time and tasks pile up on you with the belief ‘if I could have one clear day/weekend/week I can catch up’ – let your tutor know and let them advise you, they will have seen this all before.

None of us are a studying superhero, but just by showing up and persevering we are one step closer to just as important cape.

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