Back to study nerves

This week I will start studying a Masters degree and I’m nervous.

I had been thinking for awhile that in this country where a Masters is common educational currency to obtain work, and for my future aspirations when one day I am back in Australia, that I should go back to formal study.

It wasn’t an easy personal journey to get to applying for the course and perhaps it’s ironic that my first subject is Economics, as the opportunity cost of further study has been a key consideration player in the decision making process. The opportunity cost of the time I need to allocate, and the financial resources required were the two main obstacles I needed to overcome before enrolling.

The investment of a large sum of borrowed money and taking on the responsibility of paying that off was critical and I think many people, at some stage or other, question whether it is worth it. The commitment of time that I currently allocate to other, pleasurable activities like outings with my family and reading and writing has been another weight on my mind.

However, advancement requires sacrifices. And I always say without risk, there is no reward. So I needed to just dive in.

I spoke about going back to study with a few friends, and one of them who is doing an Executive MBA told me that we study to learn new things, it’s not supposed to be easy.

So I did it. I applied on a Monday, woke up to an offer letter on a Wednesday and enrolled that very same day. I left myself no more time or space to entertain the doubts and analyse again my decision.

I’ve chosen to study an online Master of International Business via Deakin University. The ability to study online, while not my preferred study mode for success, was a deciding factor. I know we will move to Australia in the near future, and if I only study one subject per semester, it will take me four years to complete, so the online course offers me flexibility in where I’m located.

I’m hoping to cast aside the niggling fears and doubts about balancing study with family and work commitments, the terror of studying subjects that I didn’t consider myself good at in my undergraduate course and that I barely passed, and the certainty that I won’t have time to read for pleasure.

Most importantly of all, I just need to have faith in myself and put in the work required.

Do you have any study tips to share for going back to study?


Hanging out at an American university

USC lecture theatre
In the lecture theatre

I’m volunteering at the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend and part of the deal included an orientation.

I have to admit to being reminded during the two hour session that I have an attention span shorter than a gnat. It was a little boring. On the upside, I got to sit in a real life American lecture theatre (same same but different to Australia) and pretend that I was a university student in the US.

Cinema studies
Big building named after a person

We then went on a tour of the University of Southern California campus near Downtown LA to see where things were going to be located so we could point the 150,000 visitors in the right direction. As we wandered the campus I drank in all the details: the buildings all named after large donors to the university; that USC is a private university whereas UCLA is a public university; the beautiful brick buildings; the lawns and common areas; the statues; the plaques; the students congregating in plazas; the beach cruisers parked out front of buildings. It was all so fascinating and it made me want to be a student again.

Dusk on campus
Dusk on campus
And here's the obelisk

The most surprising thing though, was the obelisk. There is an obelisk on campus. That just seemed out of place and a little OTT.

Did you go to school for that?

When I tell people I have a background in marketing they often ask “Did you go to school for that?”

People in Australia don’t ask that. They just accept the information about what field you’re in and don’t feel the need to judge them and their job on their level of education. I guess eventually you may get to the point where you find out if someone went to uni, and then you might ask them what they studied and where they went.

Sure I think tertiary study is important, but it certainly isn’t essential for everyone and if you haven’t been to university, it doesn’t make you any less good at your job or any less intelligent that someone who has.