I empathise with any of you currently experiencing the nervous pangs of the unknown; wading your way through the mire of enrolment, timetables, fees, and negotiating your life around this new chapter.
One year ago, pretty much to the day, I was in a similar state and had more than the dread of being a new student weighing my shoulders down (along with those four freakin text books). You see, I belong to a small group of ‘outsiders’; those who walk the corridors, usually at night, but sometimes infiltrate day classes, inflicting seriousness and cardigans on fellow students, not to mention questions on teachers and admin staff. Yes, I belong to one of the most marginalised minorities that exists on a university campus, No, not the self-harming goth socialist poet scientists, not the Ibis eating out of the bins, but the…..Mature-Aged Student (dah dah DAHHHHHHHHHHHHH).
Yes. I’m the grumpy chick sitting down the front of lectures giving you dirty looks every time you talk in class. I’m the chick that gets dressed in the morning with the logic that ‘it’s just uni and therefore no pride of dress or self is required’. I’m the one that puts the admin chick in the Business building in a bad mood before you arrive. I TAKE INITIATIVE IN GROUP WORK! ”Argh!” They all squeal.
It has been a bumpy transition back into the world of education, after an eleven year hiatus. But now into my second year I can see the light and I am proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Let’s not discuss Data Analysis right now, though.
Hopefully my perspective can help other MAS’s, but also translate for the majority of students. Read on to see how it’s going so far…
Year 2, Semester 1, Day 1
In the fortnight leading up to Semester One, 2012, after completing three semesters, I was finally feeling confident with my studies and that I now understand this wondrous place they call QUT.
I am now well-trained in Blackboard-ing my way to organisation. At the beginning of semesters I print everything out any of the organised lecturers have posted in advance (Big-ups Joanne Fuller), take to them with a hole punch, neatly place in my colourful folders, and I’m set. Ready and raring for my matriculation!
Despite all the “This semester will be different” speeches-to-self, I am less than proud to admit this beaming, good-intentioned student usually starts yawning and glazing over by hour 2 of lecture 1.
Why, just this morning, despite the rocking, organised and well-articulated lecturer I had before me for Accounting, as soon as the word “break” was announced my ears pricked up, I bounced out of my seat and made a (perhaps over) enthusiastic dash for the door, as if I were a Jack Russel who just heard the word “walk”. And straight for Benny at the Merlo cart I power-walked.
Tip Number 1 for new students: Benny is, in my opinion, the stand-out barrister on campus. He’s a little quirky, loves a chat, loves his music and takes pride in his coffee. Two thumbs up.
Back to S block I rocked and put everything I could into concentrating. I must do my best this semester. Ewww. Numbers. I just stared at the screen whilst a bunch of what looked to me to be twelve year olds answered questions correctly without hesitation. I genuinely resent anyone who has had less than a decade in between educational experiences. Even in my second year I continue to be amazed at how much of a struggle some concepts can be in the absence of recent brain-training.
We often think that we “have been doing it in the real real world for years and therefore already know the content”, but it is never as simple as that. I’ve literally been working in business for over a decade, and been very good at what I’ve done, yet here I am scratching my head over material I apparently can’t work in the real world without! That’s usually when I reach for the bottle of red.
I keep begging the maths tutors to take me back to ninth grade Algebra and take it slowly, for crying out loud, but do they? No. I think some of them have a misconception about the role of a tutor and think it is actually a one-hour solo performance of maths gymnastics with the occasional irritating but necessary-for-show-dynamics audience participation where they’re required to say “Now you try!”. Gramma’s tired, ok peach? Take it easy on me. That bottle of red wasn’t going to drink itself last night, you know.
Tip Number 2 for new students: Don’t be afraid to continue to ask questions in class, even if everyone else is silent. It is your education, you’re paying for it and you’re entitled to get what you need out of it.
I have had some positive experiences in group work and one thing I didn’t anticipate was how impressed I would be with some of my fellow students. Even though I’m at the age that when I was 19 I thought was pretty much dead, I am still surprisingly Gen Y, and have taken quite the verbal beating from some Gen X’ers and older about our faction. It has been really nice to meet young people who are ambitious, good, intellectual people giving a big proverbial finger to those old &^%$s. Yeah, I might be old in some of your eyes, but I will obnoxious-ise all of you under the table. Me and my bottle of red.
Tip Number 3 for new students: If you don’t start blogging about your experiences at QUT, you can use that time to write a standard-length assignment. True story.
Best of luck during Semester one!