Finding the balance

I studied at CQUniversity from 2007 to 2010, and completed a Bachelor of Health Promotion by distance. I really like the concept of empowering people to improve their health, and using tools such as policy, environments and community mobilisation to achieve this. I think health promotion has amazing potential to improve our health status in Australia and around the world, even though it is under-resourced. There have been some incredible successes over time – think of strategies such as seatbelts in cars, random breath testing, taxation and advertising restrictions on tobacco, and increasing the availability of healthy food in school canteens. The improvement to health from these initiatives is fantastic.

I really enjoyed the experience of studying by distance, even though most people I spoke to said they would never be able to do it. The idea of self-directed study seemed to put a lot of people off. It certainly required a lot of discipline, but I was fortunate that it really worked for me and meant I could balance all my different activities. I loved the freedom that I had to study around the other important things in life – I could study around work and family commitments, and could even keep up to date on things while I was away from home. I was working throughout my time at uni – for my first 3 years I was working full time and studying part time, and in my final year I switched this around to study full time and work part time – going into my 4th year I was ready to get my degree finished!

Tip #1 Remember the big picture

One of the key things that helped me get through my studies was that I remembered the bigger picture and that study isn’t everything. It’s important to have perspective. You do need to work hard to do well at uni, but over-studying can be counter productive if you are making yourself stressed and anxious. Find things that help you to switch off from study and that help you to relax, and things to help you focus when you’re hard at work. Distractions such as sport, music and social activities are great.

Tip #2 Study something you enjoy or feel passionate about

I think another secret is to have an idea of what you want to study and where you want to go with your career. You don’t need to have an entire life plan mapped out, but it’s so much easier to dedicate yourself to something that you really want to do. I was really lucky to get a bit of an introduction to health promotion in my year 12 studies – I thought that it was a really interesting area, found the course available at CQUniversity, and suddenly everything started falling into place. I know plenty of people who start a degree and find that it’s not for them, and then change to something else – that’s a great thing to do as well, as I don’t think there is any point plugging along with something that you don’t enjoy or have a passion for.

Tip #3 Make the most of the different support services

I also tried to make the most of different services that were offered by CQUniversity to support me in my studies. Being an 18 year old first year uni student studying by distance, I didn’t really know much about how anything in the uni system worked. Fortunately I had a Student Mentor who helped me to learn the ropes of what to do and where to find things. I made use of the Academic Learning Centre, getting them to look over assignments and find ways that I could improve my work. I used the Library databases to source journal articles for assignments. In addition to these, I also utilised Blackboard (now Moodle) to gain insights and pick the brains of other people in my courses. There are great study supports in place, so it makes sense to use these as much as you can.

So in summary:
1. remember the big picture
2. do something that you have an interest or passion for
3. make use of all the support services available – they are there to help.

And most of all, enjoy the experience!


Luke completed his studies through CQUniversity in 2010 and has been working in the health promotion sector since then. He has experience working with schools, childcare services and local government on healthy eating and physical activity programs, and currently works in the area of tobacco control with Central Coast Local Health District in NSW.

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