I am a university student. Again.
The last time I was a university student was in what my children call “the olden days”. When jeans were high-waisted, socks were slouchy, hair was big, Doc Martens were the thing and car phones were the latest techno feat.
To take lecture notes you’d use a pen and paper. This also came in handy when passing notes to your friends. Notes that usually said “Do you want to skip Pedagogy and head to Sizzler?” Assignments were hand written or if you were well off you might have bashed it on an electric typewriter. Both had their drawbacks. Hand writing gave you hand cramp but that was nothing compared to the frustration of getting to the very bottom of a type written page and realising there was a typo in line three.
When I’d finished writing an essay (which usually involved at least 3 hand written drafts) I’d pop it in a presentation folder and put it in the wooden box outside the correct faculties’ office.
Researching involved hours spent in the university library, using the recently installed computerised catalogue (although the card catalogues were still there) to locate the call numbers of books. Then traipsing up and down the aisles to locate the right book, which could often be like a wild goose chase as other students would have either already borrowed the book you wanted, or if it was a periodical hidden it so that they had the advantage.
An alarming proportion of my Austudy allowance was spent photocopying resources or lecture notes.
This time around, things are very different.
My study is completely online. There are no prescribed text books, no lectures to attend, no tutorials. It’s just me and the internet.
The course co-ordinator uploads lecture notes and learning activities, as well as an MP3 recording of her ‘real’ lecture. I write my assignments in Microsoft Word, where I can cut and paste, spell check, grammar check, and insert footnotes/end notes with just the click of a mouse. To submit I upload them to the university’s website and they are graded and returned to me in the same manner, complete with comments.
Despite all the technological changes the biggest change between 1991 and 2012 is me. I am now a mature age student. I am returning to study because I want to, not because I want to delay making decisions about my life. But I have more self-doubt in my ability to meet the course requirements than I ever did back in the olden days.
Can I do this?
I think I can. I think I can.
Just keep swimming.