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my Studies @ Unisa 2012

Now that I am an ODL student...

You have made some important decisions thus far, but this is where your studies really begin. Remember that as a graduate of open distance education, you will be admired by your peers and employers. It will tell them that you are a disciplined, self-motivated person – be proud!

But do not underestimate the difficulty of studying via distance learning. You will need commitment, discipline and perseverance. You will need to make sacrifices for your studies and your career; it might also take you longer to complete your qualification. Keep your eye on the prize and use every possible support that is offered to you by Unisa, by your family and friends, and by your work colleagues.

….talk to your family and friends

Discuss your studies with your immediate and extended family. They are your support network – without their help you will find it difficult to stick to your study commitments. You will need their understanding when you are not able to participate in events and social occasions. When studying it is always valuable to have input, very often from someone who is not familiar with the material that you are working through. Ask your family’s opinion; ask them to read through your essay assignments – in this way you involve them in your studies, rather than being an onlooker. It will give them a sense of purpose and allow them to actively participate in your studies.

….involve your colleagues

It is very likely that the direction you are studying is aligned to your current career. You therefore should have work colleagues who understand the subject matter, and who can offer practical advice and insight into problems. Involve them in your studies as far as possible without disrupting the workplace. Talk to your immediate superior: you will need time off to study and write exams, and you may not be able to take on additional commitments due to your study load. If your employer is aware of what you are doing and how it will benefit your career and the company, he or she will be more willing to accommodate your studies.

….find a mentor

Studying is hard – and only someone who has followed a similar journey can really understand the amount of dedication and discipline that it takes.

We suggest that you find a mentor in your community or in your company. This person should have completed tertiary education – preferably a distance education graduate – and should be someone whom you admire and who can stand by you for the duration of your studies.

Talk to this person – use him or her as a sounding board and make time to meet regularly. Sometimes problems that seem impossible to resolve are so much easier to handle with the advice of an older, cool and calm head.

….write a plan for your studies and stick to it

Successful students study every day. This is the only way to “put” unfamiliar information into your head in a way that is meaningful. If you study every day, using a good study technique, you will be able to integrate this material into your current base of knowledge, and your assignments and exams will show a much deeper understanding of the material. Yes, there will be “facts” that you will need to memorise, but if this is done from a base of integrated understanding it will be so much easier – it will make sense and be logical – rather than trying to memorise something that you don’t understand.