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Trevor McMillan

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Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Science and Software Development)

Why Deakin off-campus studies?
Studying off campus was my only real option.  I am 34 years old, married with two children – seven and four years old.  My daughter is now in school and because of the times that it started and finished, it gave me the flexibility to be able to pick her up and drop her off.  

The other reason I chose off campus is because of my location.  I live in Portland (100kms west of Warrnambool).  I am doing a Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Science and Software Development) which is not available in Warrnambool, but only at the Geelong or Melbourne Campuses.  I am able to travel to the Warrnambool Campus to do my exams each semester.

As an off-campus student, I suppose the biggest challenge is still the lack of face-to-face contact with your lecturers and your fellow students.  If you are having problems with a particular concept, you can feel very isolated, very easily.  

They way I have overcome this is to use the resources I have available to me on CloudDeakin.  CloudDeakin discussion space is invaluable and the lecturers are usually right on top of answering your queries.  Also other students can also help out with your questions.  Quite often, by going through the process of writing what you don’t understand, it leads you to the answer.  After all, if you are having problems understanding a concept, you are more than likely not the only one, but as an off-campus student it is hard to gauge that without the face-to-face contact.  If CloudDeakin doesn’t help, an email to my lecturer is the next thing.

Successes and aspirations
My biggest success so far is being able to exceed my expectations and adapt to studying off campus and having the self-discipline to balance study, family and still have a social life.  I had a great first year, results wise:  I won the Professor of Information Technology Award for the best first-year student in the Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Science and Software Development)!

I still haven’t decided on exactly what I want to do when I have completed my studies.  I am enjoying the different subjects and will probably get a better idea of what I like after the end of this year.  It is important to me to have a job that I enjoy doing.

Study tips and advice for new off-campus students
The key is to be constantly aware of assignment due dates and how you are travelling overall.  It is important to have one or two days off here and there.  If I don’t take time off, it can be very counterproductive.  Once you know how you are travelling, it’s easier to make those decisions to take a break, when you can afford it.

My other tips are:

  • Work at becoming very familiar with CloudDeakin.  Check CloudDeakin discussions as regularly as possible.
  • If you get the opportunity, make sure you join in on any eLive sessions.  eLive gives you the ability to speak with your lecturer and other students in real time.  Spend the time making sure you set it up correctly.
  • Take notes on all your lectures (and keep them sorted)... Even though you usually get a slide show and can listen to them later, you want condense into what you do/don’t understand.  Also keep in mind what you think might be in the exam, and listen for hints.  You will get better at understanding what is going to be examined.
  • Organise your time to study and make sure you are consistent with this time.  Make time for other things, not the other way around.
  • Use your lecturer and contact them before it becomes urgent and be specific with what your problem is.
  • Use your exam revision time for revision – do not use it to catch up!  Look at previous exams if they’re available, attempt them and prepare notes (about an A4-page full) that you can go over.
  • I would have to say that the white board I have above my desk, it is my key to success.  At the start of each semester, I fill it in with all the details for the units that I am doing that semester. As I hand in each assignment, I tick it off my assignment dates list.

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21st February 2013