March 4, 2014, by Anne S
Studying what you love, wherever you are!
Carla Saraiva juggles studying and family with the help of a distance learning course.
I was working a full-time job when I decided that I really wanted to continue studying, in order to complement my previous education. I had already completed a BSc and MSc in Informatics Engineering and was working in the field of usability and human-computer interaction, trying to make people’s lives easier by improving the user interfaces of websites and applications.
After a couple of years in the business world, I decided that I wanted to increase my knowledge and skills, so I started to look around for courses. I didn’t want to quit my job, or move, but I still wanted a topnotch education. Luckily for me, today’s technology allowed me to do just that. I found a PhD in Usability and Human-Computer Interaction by distance learning at the world-class University of Nottingham, which perfectly suited my needs – I wouldn’t have to quit my job or move away from home, away from my friends and family.
Distance learning can, nevertheless, be a double-edged sword. First and foremost, you do miss the face-to-face interaction and excitement of life on campus. Fortunately, I had already experienced that during my previous academic studies. Secondly, you have to be very disciplined and organised in order to pursue an education online. In the end you are the one managing everything, and setting your own pace. You must decide how to allocate the time to study and define some milestones (i.e. which sections of the course materials you should have already studied by a certain date) for yourself, in order to keep up. There are some online tutorials and coursework with set deadlines, but typically everything is flexible so that students can balance their studies with the demands of their jobs and family life.
Nevertheless, if you are truly passionate about your course, like I am, you’ll most certainly find a way to manage everything and succeed. Plus, you’ll find great teachers and colleagues, always ready to help you when you’re in need. In the end, you’ll be able to study what you love, at any time that suits you and your lifestyle, from anywhere in the whole world (home, office, or even on a beautiful park!).
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