Travel and Masters Degrees (Part 1)

I had this romantic notion that I can juggle traveling with doing a Masters, online.  It must be a dream to not have to go to lectures or classes or see anyone.  Do your work in your PJ’s or in an iPad in the Irish countryside or in a cool co working space in London (may or may not have happened).

Trying to do a Masters (at an Australian university which will remain unnamed) while traveling is a real pain in the arse.

I received an email from my course supervisor one week after landing in Ireland about the start of my degree.  I was actually really excited just looking at the unit outline and thought it was doable.  I have done similar juggling acts before – I managed to graduate within three years of starting my undergraduate despite failing half a semester, working various jobs at various capacities, running my own startup and other projects.

But from the get go, it proved to be disastrous.  Even I was late for one of the assessment tasks for the first week which involved introducing myself in an online discussion board.  I shrugged it off as nothing.  Then it turned out I had an assignment due – a 300 word essay.  300 words is nothing, really, and it was all about managing in a global environment.  I read about this stuff all the time in Harvard Business Review, online etc.  It wasn’t so much the actually word count itself.  It was how I came about with the 300 words.  First, it was writing notes down while on a 3-4 hour car trip from Dublin to County Donegal with my Uncle blaring motown music and stopping a few times at the gas station. I had my iPad tethered to my bluetooth keyboard (you know, have to travel light) but I gave up after a short while.

After spending a day walking around old military forts, edges of cliffs, posing at family photos with my cousins and 5 month old niece, climbing up and down rocks, taking iPhone photos, collecting pebbles at a beach, a decision was made that some of us pitch a tent in the great outdoors and sleep out.  So there I was, sitting with my iPad, trying to write about the challenges that managers and leaders face in a global environment, jn a tent in cold, windy northern Ireland.  I submitted it though, at around 2 am.  We had to wake up early as we were heading out to a national park and a castle then back to Dublin.

I moved back to London and in between moving out into a flat in Primrose Hill saw that another assignment has been missed worth 20%.

So, travel, moving to a foreign country/continent, and also starting in a new phase of my professional development really isn’t working out with this attempt at a Masters.  In Commerce.

Overall, however, I don’t think that doing it online would work for me.  It would also mean having it entirely based upon academia and my learning style isn’t compatible.  Yes, academia plays a role but I also need to have plenty of professional development events, business opportunities, and face to face mentoring or advice.  It is much better tapping into UK and EU networks here rather than continuing with the university based all the way in Melbourne. In fact, is doing a Masters even the right answer for me?

What are your thoughts about online-based degrees?  Or even Masters in general?

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