Becoming a distance student: Identifying and managing the key challenges

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Approximately 25% of first year, distance students are unsuccessful – they withdraw, fail or just give up on their study. They pay the fees but they don’t get the benefit. And they go away discouraged and disheartened. This poster, using data from a PhD project following 19 first year mature-aged distance students, offers ideas for managing key challenges these students face. - My lifeload: Taking too many courses is common. Students overestimate the time they have available. Be realistic and start small: you can speed things up later. - My family and friends: Other people can be a support and a barrier. Communicate clearly what you need. And remember, this is a big change for the whole family not just you. - My time and space: Students choose distance study because it is more flexible. But you still have to find time and space to do the work. Be flexible and creative in your approach. It takes time to figure out what works for you, for your family, and for your studies. - My headspace: The first year is an emotional rollercoaster including negative feelings of anxiety or frustration. Manage the negative by talking things over and celebrate and focus on the positive. - My university: Returning to study is harder than you expect with a lot of new skills to be learned. Be patient with yourself, use the resources available and be willing to seek help.