End of Semester stress

Family Health Diary

If there’s a tertiary student in your house, end of semester is a tense old time. Hand ins for the last assignments, prepping for end of course exams, then doing the exams!

I have a new respect for Uni students, having just completed my second semester, plodding away part time towards a Post Grad Cert in Public Health, with one paper a semester. It sounds pathetic really when I write that, but for me, fast forwarding to post graduate studies, when the last time you were in a classroom was 35 years ago, is a bit of a shock. Probably the sensible thing to do would have been to enrol in a Bachelor’s degree, but when I started looking at things a year or so back, I thought I may as well try and get the approval to study at the next stage up. To register as a Comprehensive Nurse required three years theory and practical back in the day, (these days a Bachelor degree) so I felt maybe it was worth trying a step up.

I read the courses were suitable for people working in the health arena for a day job (I had to supply my credentials in creating the Raising Children resource as proof of a day job relating to health and wellbeing), so I figured the workload would take the ‘day job’ into consideration. Well it did – but in ways that were not quite what I expected.

Firstly, the old medical knowledge was assumed to be at a base level. That was ok after the initial shock – I was pleasantly surprised to dust off what was hidden away in the memory banks when I recognised different shorthand for health problems and entered discussion groups with doctors about risk factors for various disease processes.

Secondly, assuming the workload might be a tad lighter to take account of a day job hogging your hours, was misplaced. To do a good job at anything you need to put the hours in. That is that. And if it’s all a bit new to you, the hours increase while you get your head in the game and figure out what it is you need to download, upload, log into, print and spit out at the other end, and in what exact form.

All I can say is ‘Thank God’ I only chose to do one paper a semester. The last 4 weekends have seen me sit at a screen for the entirety of it – apart from making food. I had a word document open moving words within it here to there and back again, too many tabs open with various academic papers, journal papers strewn all over my desk, pages of refill from lectures, highlighters, folders, coffee cups, chocolate and the company of a nice view out the window I often kept staring at. Oh, and the slippers and fluffy cardi for the late-night efforts…and the ever-faithful dog in her favourite chair she frequents, beside my office one.

I became an awful mother, wife, friend, as 7000 words over two essays ruled my life. I swore at myself out loud as to why I did not sort the bloody referencing as I went. I ended up with a colour coding system with various versions – made sense to me anyway.

Then finally, came version 10, the colour coding went west and it all got tidied up looking very pedestrian like. But there were definitely times I went back to previous versions to find the highlighted bright pink quote (from bla et at, 2015) I wanted back again, that I’d since removed. Indeed, it is a blissful thing to have the quote, the page number, the reference and the right format of it easily lifted out from a previous effort. AGH just writing this all makes me feel bit sick.

At one point, I wanted to just press delete and be done with it. I went to the kitchen instead, poured a glass of chard, found some chips and scrolled through my Facebook feed watching people having amazing times doing fun things… with all their friends saying how lovely they looked… (which is what they wanted them to say or why post the picture) The nonsense of social media, eh?

I wondered whether I should post a shot of my current existence looking like I was 80 with no makeup, in sloth clothes, with a grumpy as face in a messy office. But nobody ever does that, do they? I felt better in half an hour – it was purely the wine I feel though.

It was a great feeling to upload said assignments, then drive off to deliver the hard copy looking down at the rest of the papers in the ‘post graduate’ box and wondering if they too felt as relieved as me to post them through the slot. Be gone with you essays!

Two papers down, two to go. Right now, I’m a little reluctant to sign up for the next one. The rest of my life has gone sideways a bit to make room. Those letters after the name better be worth it!!!

Go easy on any students in your household – it’s hard getting all those thoughts out of your head and down on paper in a way a lecturer wants them to be. I have a new-found respect for you!!


Written by Jude Dobson

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