Emerge and Spread Your Wings

The Best and Worst of Post Grad Study

I’ve been dropping bits and pieces about my semester’s study into blogs these past few months and I handed in my last assignment a couple of weeks ago. I know some of you are well experienced post graduate students, while others have been curious about how I have found my semester of study. While I have done many courses, and training since I qualified as an occupational therapist, this was my first experience studying at a post graduate level, and I chose to enroll in an on-line paper through Otago Polytechnic Occupational Therapy School. So while I wait my final marks I thought I’d give you the inside scoop on my Best and Worst Experiences of Post Grad Study.

Wow! Accessing the Otago academic library. I love libraries, and having a medical library available on-line has been fantastic. I could request a hard-copy of a book and it was sent free of charge arriving by courier from Dunedin within days. Or I could down-load e-books, search for journal articles, and get tips and techniques for study, academic writing, etc. It really exceeded my expectations.

Poop! Life doesn’t conveniently stop when you are studying. I managed juggling round the usual work and family commitments with some good pre-planning and boundary setting, but unexpected family illnesses and extra responsibilities did add extra stress.

Yay! Like-minded individuals –  I enjoyed finding common ground with other students, while being pleasantly surprised that not everyone thinks like me 😉

Ouch! It has been a long time since I spent so much time on a computer or sitting at a desk. Stiff shoulders, back and neck had me exploring ways to mix up my work surfaces. I set up a standing workstation, practiced yoga stretches, set limits on screen time. Lots of experimenting and new strategies. Good excuse for regular massages though.

Revealing! Being treated as a peer by tutors and having my pre-existing skills acknowledged and validated was so rewarding.

Steep! The learning curve involved in studying on-line as opposed to my past experiences of face-to-face lectures. Many new systems to learn – Adobe meetings, library systems, research skills, on-line chats. A brave new world!

Sneaky! I asked for some pre-reading from the tutor, which helped me feel a little more familiar with the topics once the pressure came on.

Mind Numbing! Learning whole new referencing systems (APA), and checking minute details of punctuation.

Role model! My children got to see me in the different role of student and watch me tackle new learning and assignments like they do at school. I also found them great sources of wisdom about on-line learning.

Lonely! I was hoping to have more contact with other students, but there was less on-line interaction than I expected. Apparently it depends on the student group. Still I did feel a sense of disappointment and disconnection at times.

Void! My increased workload created a gap in the usual family dynamics. Mum wasn’t always around to make meals, solve problems. This resulted in all of my family members needing to step up, which they did with few hiccups. It was great to see the increase in their independence and skills.

Refreshing! I love learning new things, and I was delighted at how applicable my study was to my role of professional supervisor. I have gained new perspectives, ideas, and knowledge and reinforced some of my “gut” feelings about how to help others increase their motivation.

Rewarding! Despite the ups and downs I found my semester of post graduate study a rewarding, challenging and positive experience. Maybe more to come next year…..