An introspective on University – 1 month in

Well, I’m now nearly 1 month into my life as a university student and, as somebody who is nearly 40 and experiencing university for the first time, I can certainly say that it’s been an interesting time. 

The first thing that you notice about Uni is the amount of reading that you can do.  I can easily say that, for me at least, the amount of reading expands to overfill the amount of space available.  There’s always a ‘next paper’ to read if you’re interested.  But even the amount of reading has been a good thing – although I am looking forward to emptying some of it from my head at some stage.

The next thing about Uni for me is that I’ve been able to enjoy the lifestyle of a full time student somewhat.  As a virtual worker for Readify, it’s easy for me to hang out at Uni all day.  I’ve gotten quite familiar with the campus and the library as well as spending time in and around some of the great, old buildings that give the campus its personality.  It’s really shown me a side of my home town that I never knew existed.

Finally, I’ve realized that, at Uni, you really need to plug-in.  The pace is so fast that if you don’t keep up, it would be very easy to get overtaken.  Take as an example of this that, although I’m only up to week 3 since starting the course, my first – and most major – assignment is due to be handed up in just 2 weeks time!  It’s a 3,000 word paper which encompasses a critical self-assessment of my personal present and future situation with regards to my leadership skills.  In the 3 weeks that have elapsed, I’ve had to read 4 chapters of a text book and probably another 10 published papers (to get higher marks you need to read well beyond these).  On top of that, I’ve used maybe a dozen self-assessment tools which have analysed everything from my communication and leadership style right through to my personality type and my "influence dimensions".  Each of these are to be used in either the gathering of data or the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of it.  Lastly, in addition to each of the core materials that I’ve mentioned for the course, I’ve attended 3 or 4 supplementary lectures on topics such as writing skills and plagiarism. 

Oh yeah… and all of that is only for 1 course, unfortunately being my first time at Uni, I didn’t quite understand what would be involved, so I signed up for 2 courses this trimester 🙂

The experience so far has pulled me from pillar to post emotionally and has taken my time management and negotiation skills to new levels.  I’ve grouped the time management and negotiation skills together because all of the trade-offs that I’ve had to make in order to achieve better time management outcomes require the buy-in of other parties.  Some examples of these have been:

  • Racing to leave an important management meeting in Melbourne right on time in order to make a flight back to Adelaide so that I could attend an evening lecture and group assignment session
  • Having to miss some of the pre-season hockey training programs for the senior men’s team that I’m coaching this year
  • Having to take annual leave days to catch up on study even though I was inducting several new employees into the business
  • Missing a lecture while doing a 3-day speaking tour in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne

But through all of that I can honestly say that I’m loving it.  Tired.  But loving it.  I think that I’ve cracked up emotionally more than I needed to on one occasion, but I was very lucky to have the right people around me at the time to catch me.  If I’ve learned nothing else so far, I’ve achieved a better appreciation of that it’s only through other people that you can get things done.

Through all of this, the best learning advice that I’ve received so far was a timely reminder from one of the lecturers that we must always take time to smell the roses… when you do that, things just somehow seem to fall into place a little easier.

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~ by D on February 23, 2008.

4 Responses to “An introspective on University – 1 month in”

  1. I agree totally. What I find really interesting is that despite you and I doing very different courses – MBA versus GradDipEd – we are experiencing some verysimilar things:
    * More hectic lifestyle – I guess expected.
    * Require a better management of time – again, expected.
    * Self-assessment tasks – huh? Where did that one come from?
     
    I\’ve found that the majority of activities for both subjects I am studying require me to do self-assessment tasks and all of them have reflection activities. It\’s a real case of "there is no right answer across the board, only a right answer from within yourself that fits within some general boundaries".
     
    I expected to see some more concrete, prescriptive stuff, and I guess that will come later, but at the moment, it\’s all about self-analysis and delving into your preconcieved ideas and helping you break through those to better think about the issues at hand.
     
    Awesome – haven\’t felt this alive in a very long time.

  2.  
     
    >> I expected to see some more concrete, prescriptive stuff, and I guess that will come later 
     
    I think that it\’s all about getting us to a point where we know it from \’first principles\’.  As Sun Tzu wrote in his Art of War:
     
    If you are ignorant of both your enemy and yourself, then you are a fool and certain to be defeated in every battle.
    If you know yourself, but not your enemy, for every battle won, you will suffer a loss.
    If you know your enemy and yourself, you will win every battle.

  3. Darren,
     
    First, I want to congratulate you on your decision to attend a university. Your studies will test your intelligence, stamina, endurance, and patience while also increasing your overall comprehension and quantity of contacts professional and otherwise.
     
    While reading your blog post I chuckled many times because I too am almost 40 and attending a university. However, my studies are conducted online with the University Of Phoenix (UOP) out of the United States. The differences between online education and physical on-campus studies are an interesting subject which we can discuss at another time, if you would like. I can empathize with the quantity of reading you must accomplish. I am forever reading and re-reading required and additional resources in conjunction with my studies.
     
    The work-load is serious and time-management is essential. UOP has excellent courses dedicated to time management. I carry a full-time credit schedule of 12+ credits a semester and work at the same time. For instance, last night I was up until 4 am completing assignments after a full work-week. I truly enjoy my studies and yearn to get to the core studies on the path to my BSIT/SE.
     
    Therefore, I wish you the best of success in your endeavors. I trust that you have a supportive and understanding family. You will need them to complete life-tasks that you no longer have time to accomplish. Yes, you will need to sacrifice some of your extracurricular activities but, it is a worthwhile sacrifice.
     
    Good Luck! If I can be of any service, please do not hesitate to contact me.
     
    Richard

  4. Thanks for the encouragement Richard.  Here\’s by far the most useful thing that I\’ve read so far 😉
     
        http://www.si.umich.edu/~pne/PDF/howtoread.pdf

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