No time for study between work, kids and everything else? Think again | Women's Agenda

No time for study between work, kids and everything else? Think again

When you’re working on your career, raising kids and attempting to have some kind of life on the side, the thought of extra study can seem impossible.

But a growing number of women across Australia are making it work through online education, with women making up 66% of all online higher education students in 2014.

It’s a trend that has been growing year-on-year, as an increasing number take up the opportunity to achieve a qualification flexibly.

Many women pursue such opportunities well into their careers, and/or while juggling a number of competing priorities.

Now, Charles Sturt University wants to see more women rethinking some of the barriers that may be preventing them from pursuing higher education online.

There are 14,000 women currently studying online at CSU, Australia’s longest running distance education provider. The good majority of them (57%) are between the ages of 30 and 50, with an average age of 36. They’re pursuing a wide range of courses in order to excel in their current career, or even switch careers entirely.

CSU has worked to address some of the inhibitors it believes may be holding some people back from making a career transformation. It’s found that institutional support is a key determinant to online education success, alongside the usual traits an online learner requires such as commitment and self-motivation.

When it comes to studying online, such support must be as flexible as the ways students pursue their education and available seven days a week. It must acknowledge the fact everyone comes to online education with a different story, and different needs and priorities for learning.

Liz Green couldn’t have sat in a classroom at set times in order to complete her Masters of Education at CSU.

Working full-time and raising two kids, she needed a flexible option that enabled her to work in her own time. She didn’t want to study at night, noting that evenings are her personal time.

So she pursued her post-graduate degree online, and tailored the education to fit her lifestyle. At CSU, she was able to access lectures, tutorials and learning materials whenever she needed them, and to interact with students and teachers and even establish study groups online.

“I used downtime during the week to do reading and research. On the train ride to work, during a lunch break, whenever I could,” she told Women’s Agenda. “Then weekends were for completing assignments. If you work smart and do all your prep work during the working week, it only requires approximately one weekend of study/writing for each assignment.”

Having previously completed a Bachelor of Business full-time straight out of school and pursued a career in business and marketing, Green wanted to transform her career by pursuing a new qualification that could aid her in helping people.

She got a new role just three months into commencing her Masters, much sooner than she’d anticipated. “Once I had started to learn I was excited to get stuck into applying what I was learning,” she said.

Now a People, Culture and Change Consultant and pursuing a PhD, she added that she wouldn’t have discovered her passion for the area or been eligible for the doctorate without her Masters.

Green is one of a growing number of women who’re rethinking how higher education can transform their careers and pursuing online education in a way that fits their lifestyles.

Women have been outnumbering men in higher education since 1987 according to ABS data. With flexible and supportive online education options like those offered by CSU – enabling women of all life and career stages to pursue a new qualification – it’s a trend we may see swing even further in favour of women in the future.

So what would you study online?

At CSU the top five undergraduate courses include:

  • Bachelor of Education (Birth to 5 Years)
  • Bachelor Of Nursing
  • Bachelor Of Social Science (Social Welfare)
  • Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary)
  • Bachelor of Accounting

The top postgraduate courses that females are studying at CSU online include:

  • Master of Information Studies (General)
  • Master Of Education (Teacher Librarianship)
  • Graduate Diploma of Psychology
  • Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying)
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Human Resource Management
  • Master of Business Administration (with specialisations)


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