Maintaining the effort

Long-haul learning

Off-campus learning can be a long-haul journey. It is a unique experience of learning in that it typically lasts more than the usual three years, is conducted to fit around your life, and that independent learning approaches require a great deal of self-reliance and persistence.

The other feature of off-campus learning is that it is about developing your individual approach and learning to learn. It is about how you make sense of the learning process, increasing your knowledge and skills, and growing and changing.

The challenge

The changes you experience as you engage with university learning – the journey of the mind you've embarked on – can be challenging.

There is no such thing as a perfect student (Percy 1989) and there is no one right way to do things. Some people will adapt and immerse themselves in this experience, enjoying every minute. Most, however, will experience both highs and lows.

There are certain commonalities of experience with off-campus learning. Independent study can bring particular challenges. One traditional issue is feelings of isolation. Some students find it temporarily hard to maintain their efforts and motivation. A common experience is the 'study blues'. Here, you might have had some experience with tertiary education and independent learning, but you've reached a point where you feel you are stuck in a rut and you're wondering which direction to take. Sometimes, failure can contribute to this experience.

Reorient yourself

One way to approach the lows of your experience is to follow this four-step process:

  1. Stop and reflect: reacquaint yourself with the benefits of off-campus learning, as well as the barriers you're experiencing. Ask yourself 'Do I go on?' The Learning Inspirations site has ideas on how you can find inspiration – motivate yourself.
  2. Recognise: Like a traveller at the cross roads, you will experience times of indecision and the study blues.
  3. Move on from the study blues: Improve your levels of success by working through the range of resources available to help guide you through your tertiary study.