Nursing student and mum Claire reflects on how she managed her first semester at Uni

There’s never going to be the ‘perfect’ time to start Uni; there is always going to be a reason not to start, especially when you have a young family. So my advice would be to just take the leap: enrol in the course you have been researching and work the rest out as you go along!

I found out I got into my Nursing course seven days before classes commenced, and at the time I had a nine-month-old, two-year-old and six-year-old.

With no extended family to lean on for childcare, I was tasked with finding childcare for my two little ones with just a few days’ notice. While I didn’t think it was possible, a couple of days later childcare was sorted – thank goodness for Family Daycare Bendigo! – and hurdle number one was crossed. 

Getting through those first couple of months of classes was a series of hurdles like this, the key for me was not to get daunted by the enormity of the tasks of juggling family, Uni and work – yes, it’s a lot and you have to be organised but rather than getting overwhelmed, break it down into smaller hurdles and just deal with them as they come along. This helps a lot with stress levels.

Remember also to ask for support as you need it. The La Trobe staff are very understanding of the challenges of family commitments; they all want you to succeed in your studies and will do everything they can to help you reach this goal.

I found the One Step Ahead program was an amazing resource for getting me up to speed on academic writing, referencing and using databases and journal articles. Definitely utilise this program (it will run again prior to Semester 1, 2021) and the others offered through the La Trobe Library and Learning Hub. There are even discipline-specific peer mentors who can provide one-on-one practical advice to help you with your study and assignments as well as an online program called Studiosity where you can submit drafts of your assignment for feedback on structure and referencing.  If you’re like me and haven’t written an academic piece of work in years, don’t worry, La Trobe provides all the resources you need to get good marks for your assignments.

As you would expect, the world of higher education has changed significantly since I was last at University. Everything is now online: from class materials and lectures to textbooks and databases. I walked into my first lecture on day one with a notepad and pen, only to discover there was an expectation I’d have the ability to look up relevant articles and databases during class and you can’t do that on your iPhone very easily!

You’ll learn how to manage these lessons as you encounter them.

But if your in your first days of your course or know someone wondering whether to enrol, be sure that you will not look back with regret upon new skills and opportunities that come your way thanks to your degree. It’s just a matter of getting started.