Annie’s 4 tips on how to succeed with studies

Hello, my name is Annie and I recently graduated from the Master of Professional Accounting at CQUni’s Melbourne campus.

9am to 7pm, or if I’m lucky I can leave at 6pm. That’s how my life used to be working as a Finance Manager in my home country of the Philippines for almost 5 years.

It was stressful but I loved every bit of it because it was very rewarding and I was able to train staff who were just starting with their careers.

My days were packed with meetings, reports, deadlines, process improvements and a few human resource and admin related tasks. I believe that was the peak of my career as a certified accountant.

I loved the drive, adrenaline, unending learning and teaching all at the same time and I especially loved that I got to work with people I liked and have become friends with over the years.

But then life happened and there are choices in life that are just too difficult to make and moving to Melbourne was one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, pursuing a postgraduate degree in Australia was one of my dreams but I was not ready to leave my career behind. At least not during that time.

But see, we can’t control everything that goes on with life and sometimes it requires a big leap of faith and a stretch to make things better and get on with it.

It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring what else is there. One thing I learned during my journey is that what seems to be all bad and ugly can turn into something good and beautiful. At least that’s how I want to look at the life experiences that have made me who I am today.

Moving into a foreign land to pursue my studies with just a few friends and relatives around was by far the biggest adjustment I had to deal with. There were days I would feel lonely and homesick.  

I would classify myself as an introvert. I have a few but really close friends from back home. Most of whom I’ve known since I was a kid. I rarely come up to people and introduce myself because it feels uncomfortable and unnatural for me.

I still managed to make new friends at CQUni. Most of whom were my classmates and had the chance to work with them on some projects.

In addition, I was given an opportunity to be part of the Melbourne campus team. The role has allowed me to work on my social skills, communication skills and so much more. With that said, I will be forever grateful to the people who believed in me and gave me a chance to work with this great team.

I developed the habit of checking the alerts on my phone since I moved to Melbourne. The reason behind is that I badly needed a job at that time. I did not expect job hunting in this city to be this challenging given that there are massive vacancies advertised daily.

One day I received an email from the Melbourne campus team that they are in need of a Student Assistant. It was a part-time casual position. There were two requirements that needed to be sent: a CV and a cover letter. I had both so I didn’t waste time and sent it right away.

I think it paid off because I was shortlisted and invited for an interview. Two people interviewed me and I remember I was so nervous. After the dreaded interview, I was asked to do an exam to test my knowledge in Powerpoint, Word and Excel.

After a week or so and while I was busy packing stuff to move to a new place, I received the very good news that I got the position. I was so happy.

After 5 months of working with the team, a new vacancy for an Admin Officer role came up, which was permanent part-time. I took my chances and applied. This time, aside from a CV and cover letter, I needed to submit a response to the role’s selection criteria in STAR (situation, task, action and results) format. This to me was the challenging part.

It took me a few days to complete and I asked for some help from a colleague and my boss. They were very supportive and gave me relevant inputs on how to get it done. They weren’t disappointed because I got the job after a 3-person panel interview and an exam!

Working and studying at the same time can be really challenging but it all boils down to achieving the right balance. Something that works for you in getting tasks done and goals achieved.

So what does it take to succeed in your studies?

If you ask me, it’s simply juggling everything you have on your plate. I know what you’re thinking – it’s easier said than done! I totally agree, which is why you have to have a strategy.

Here are some tips I would like to share, which worked for me during my academic journey.

First, set an achievable goal. Do you want to excel or are you happy to settle with passing marks? This helps determine the amount of time and effort you need for studying. Remember, you came to this country to study. Hence, it should be the top priority on your list and everything else comes next.

A masters program requires a lot of journal reading aside from reading reference books. It took a couple of assessments before I got used to reading journals. For starters, read the abstract and conclusion to see if the journal is related to the topic at hand.

Most students are overwhelmed with reading journals because of massive number of pages. You really don’t have to know all the details but gain an overall understanding and note some pieces of relevant information that can support what you write on your paper.

Second, have the right mindset. In my opinion, any task is doable with the right kind of attitude. If a task is something new or something really challenging, ask around so you can gather pieces of information that can help you work on it.

I discovered the more I talk to people, the more understanding I gain. This helps me think critically and creatively.

Third, keep track of assessment deadlines and don’t leave it to the last minute. This gives you a chance to review and edit your work yielding better results.

Check for content, grammar and most importantly – proper referencing. There’s a number of assistance provided by CQUni on referencing – slides uploaded in Moodle, the library and Academic Learning Centre (ALC) conducts referencing workshops every term and ALC staff can lend you a  hand as well.

Fourth, organise or join a study group with your fellow students. I found this especially helpful for final exams. You can assign topics to be discussed per person along with problems to be solved then arrange a schedule to meet up to do the revision together.

I hope you found these helpful!

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy reading Cindy Wisco’s journey who is also studying the Master of Professional Accounting at CQUniversity Melbourne.

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One thought on “Annie’s 4 tips on how to succeed with studies

  1. Thank you! Anyway, it’s hard to achieve anything without discipline. You need to organize your life, set priorities, and follow the schedule. It is really easier said than done, but it is possible and feasible if you have a goal.
    Very valuable advice, I appreciate it!

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