Roadblocks and dinosaurs

Starting university is a really eye-opening experience, especially when you plan to study online. If you’re anything like me, you will discover many new things about yourself during those first few weeks, things like you’re terribly unorganised, or you’re prone to the occasional existential crisis.

I’m Mae. I’ve recently graduated from CQUniversity and during my first year I discovered both of these things about myself. I also found that I can be super skilled at making things harder than they need to be. To help you avoid making the same mistakes, I’m going to share my How to Uni tips for overcoming roadblocks in the lead up to your first term.

Roadblock One: A vanishing act

The first thing I remember is receiving my offer letter and putting it in a folder for later. I would have been nineteen at the time and just thinking about going to university made me too anxious to function. So I put the letter in a folder and let myself forget about it for a few weeks. I was certain that putting something important like that in a folder was a sure fire way to make sure it didn’t get lost…

When the time came to enrol, I could not find that folder. Without it, I didn’t have my student number to log in. That was the first roadblock I made for myself, because I didn’t want to give up but I really didn’t want to face this on my own and I was headed to university as the first in my family, with a handful of friends who seemed to know what they were doing much better than I did. I realise now that I was already self-sabotaging. I was backing out of my degree before I’d even begun.

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Roadblock Two: Procrastination overload

A phone call to the Student Advice team provided me with the number I needed to get back on track. But I didn’t want to read anything. The websites seemed like a maze and all of them left me feeling stupid. So I made a second roadblock for myself and ditched trying to enrol until a week before Orientation.

When I finally scolded myself into enrolling, my Course Planner gave me the units I needed and I fumbled my way through the enrolment process. Who knows how I managed to do it. I certainly wasn’t trying to understand how things worked. I was so late getting organised that my textbooks didn’t arrive until Week 3. Not a great start. Do yourself a favour and be better organised than I was.

Finding my confidence…

Ultimately, it was my friends and family that saw me through my first year successfully. If I hadn’t had that support network I would have simply accepted the roadblocks I’d made for myself and given in. Although I never found that folder, my support network helped me soldier on for the next twelve months and I somehow managed to make it to my second year.

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If someone asked me what the biggest challenge was back then, I’d say confidence in myself. Of all the things to stop me, right? So let me assure you, you don’t need to be a genius to graduate but you will need to persevere. There will be times when you doubt yourself, when you question your intelligence, and wonder what you’re doing with your life. But that shouldn’t stop you. There is plenty of support out there to help you through this. If you really want something, nothing will stop you.

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So just to re-hash – don’t doubt yourself, avoid self-sabotaging, get organised early on and remember your friends and family are there to keep you motivated.

Mae Swarbrick (

Mae Swarbrick is a current student, studying part-time in the Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Arts, and working full-time as Student Communications Officer. Mae's ongoing experience as a current student is invaluable in her role as leader of the Student Communications team. Combine this with practical experience in the call centre, Admissions and Student Communications teams, and she’s ready to share some first-rate uni hacks for new students. Follow Mae on #How2Uni.

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