Brendan Lavery, MSc Health Psychology student, shares his highs and lows as an eLearning Ulster University student.
My experience as an Ulster University student is a little different from most students: I am completing my Master’s degree entirely online. This is my first venture with Ulster University; I studied my undergraduate degree with The Open University, another learning experience in the comfort of my own home.
“The team’s coordinating the modules encourage group discussions.”
Learning from home is not exactly easy; there are different challenges that need to be conquered. Motivation can be difficult to come by when you don’t have direct contact with fellow students who are learning the same things as you, something that I previously took for granted. Being able to talk about the last lecture face to face is a great way to consolidate what you have learned. However, this is easy to overcome in Ulster University because the team’s coordinating the modules encourage group discussions about different topics on the online message boards. There are even collaborative projects that need to be worked on within a group setting, and this is done online too.
Studying a Master’s is quite daunting. At the beginning I struggled to get my footing, and fell behind a little, but I managed to somehow get that first assignment finished. Not before stumbling on one of the biggest hurdles that can impede the progress of even the most motivated student, procrastination! This was and still is especially difficult for me. The extra comfort that comes along with learning at home is a double-edged sword, bringing with it abundant opportunities to procrastinate. My lack of time management and discipline caused me to receive a mark much lower than what I was capable of. Fortunately this year, as the assignments got harder, so did my resistance to procrastination. I managed to decipher a weekly plan out of my initial disastrous approach.
“I feel honoured to be part of Ulster University.”
Studying at home has its benefits. It’s cost and time efficient. I don’t have to travel and I can read the online lectures in my own time, however little I get that is, outside work and home life. Despite studying at home I do feel like I’m a part of Ulster University. There is continual support offered with tutors on hand to answer any little question I have. It is a wonderful experience, and without the opportunity to learn from a distance, studying a Masters would not be possible for me. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I am achieving a dream that I considered would never actually happen. I feel honoured to be part of Ulster University.
“It is a wonderful and worthwhile experience.”
For people who are considering enrolling in an eLearning course at Ulster University, it is a wonderful and worthwhile experience. You won’t regret it. It just takes a little more discipline and will power. It’s not easy, there will be fights with your family, or significant other about getting time with you, and sacrifices will have to be made. In the end though, there is nothing more satisfying than achieving your goals.
Next year I will be graduating from MSc Health Psychology and with a bit of perseverance, hard work and a sprinkle of luck I will become a psychologist of some description. It’s still a long road ahead and a difficult one, but each step brings me closer and closer. Until then, through all of the tantrums brought on by stress, all of the late nights I push myself through, and the sacrifices that are in my future, I will succeed. It will be all worth it in the end.