THE BLOG

Is Distance Learning for You?

24/06/2013 13:34 BST | Updated 21/08/2013 10:12 BST

Becoming a librarian requires you to have a Masters. To get onto a course you're required to have six months of experience and (as a Distance Learner) to be working in the field. As a full title it's known as 'Information and Library Studies' MSc. For me (as a 26 year old woman with travelling and little else as experience), it was either, do the course fulltime and quit my current job, OR keep my current job and take 3 years to do the course part time. Given how long it's taken me to get a job that I can a) do b) enjoy and c) doesn't include weird racist comments, I figured I'd take the latter choice.

In a nutshell, what have I learned from my Distance Learning course?

1. Give up your social life.

I'm not joking a Masters is hard enough but doing it via Distance Learning is even harder. Give up any semblance of anything other than working and studying and possibly going to the gym. Even this will be sacrificed towards the end as spending an extra 2 hours proofreading an essay could make all the difference between passing ok(ish) and passing by a respectable margin.

2. Sleep is an option not a necessity

Really think about how much sleep you need. I've managed to function on 7.5 hours a night on 14 hour days. Fitting in studying AND working full-time isn't a 70/30 split - it's more like 50/50.

3. Your tutors will not appreciate that you have a full-time job.

They say they do/will but they won't. The timing of assignments and 'chats' on Sunday nights will prove that.

4. Distance Learners aren't accounted for

I get emails from the university about campus events. I'm a DISTANCE LEARNER. I couldn't give a fig about the newest fashion show happening at blah street and such and such a date. But I can't turn the emails off. We're just lumped into the same category as full time learners and 'other students'.

A lot of the materials are designed for classroom participation and discussion. But as a Distance Learner there are some things you do need help with. But it's not very forthcoming. As if the course was taken, mixed around a bit and dumped in Distance Learning, without much thought as to how some items might translate. You will feel like you're playing catch-up all the time.

4. The People on your course are NOT your friend.

You will exchange comments with them via the aforementioned chats and various forums. Do not be fooled. These people are not ever going to talk to you about anything other than the course. No new friends here folks! And you aren't really encouraged to talk to each other (although when you read through comments on the forums you probably won't want any of them as friends).

5. People won't get it.

'Oh so you're a Distance Learner, with the Open University?' Not really no. It's not 'one module per time period' It's essentially what it says on the tin you are working and studying full time at the same time.

Other gems - you won't be able to see your boyfriend/girlfriend, your family will beg you to leave your desk every now and again, your idea of a good time will be not being anywhere near your computer. Skin will go downhill, bags under the eyes etc. People who have fun and go out during the week will make you cry - but not for too long because you could be using that time to study or sleep.

Distance Learning is not a decision to enter into lightly. Make sure you have a support network that can look after you when you have the bad days (most of them) and be open with communication - tell people when you have assignments due. Take time out for yourself because your university sure as hell won't let you take it and you will be consumed by a desire to STUDY ALL THE TIME. Set reasonable goals. When I started I was all 'Yeah! I'll get amazing marks'. Now, I'm more like, please God just let me pass.