Striking a balance between work and studies
Transforming Lives: Learners of AU is an ongoing series where real students and alumni share how AU’s flexible learning model made a difference in their lives and, in turn, the communities in which they live and work. Submit your story.
Carla Sawyers embraced Athabasca University’s flexibility to earn Bachelor of Arts
Choosing to study at Athabasca University was simple for 2 reasons: flexibility and personal achievement.
Prior to AU, I had a college professor that hounded me every week I attended her lectures. She often told me: “You are a bright student. I hope you plan on continuing your education after this, because you belong in university.” Her consistent encouragement fell on deaf ears, because at the time I just wanted to satisfy the requirements of my diploma and graduate.
Fast-forward to when I entered the corporate world. My former professor’s encouragement rang louder internally as I started contemplating next steps with my career and furthering my education. I wondered how would I balance both? Lucky for me, through the support of my employer and family, I took the plunge and enrolled in AU’s Bachelor of Arts program.
“AU helped me achieve something I thought I would never attain, much less go after.”– Carla Sawyers (Bachelor of Arts ’17)
Balancing work, life, and studies
Between travelling for work and leisure, moving a few times, the demands of work and having a social life, it was a challenge at times to find time to study. However, I committed to a schedule and sacrificed a little bit of socializing so that I could manage everything and not burn out. Once I committed to my educational pursuits, I understood that structure and discipline were going to be the keys to my success.
I buckled down and also decided to take advantage of the flexibility that AU offered as far as pacing my registration and course loads. I started off with one course and found it easy to manage, understand, and complete with proper time management and part-time study. After that one course, I decide I could take on 3 courses a year.
Work and family support
My employer also helped by being flexible about when I could begin and end my workday for the nights I committed to late-night study. My friends were super understanding for those weekends I could not make it to events, while my family made sure I was fed and had a warm, yet comfortable study spot to dive right into the course material.
My last year of study was the most challenging. I decided I wanted to finish my program earlier so I doubled my course load. I was purposely socially distant from friends and family and completely took advantage of my flexible work hours as I committed to more study time. As intense and rigorous as that plan was, I managed to complete my degree—just in time for convocation!
I did it! I set out to further my education, and did so while striking a balance between career and AU. When I earned my degree, it was a personal and professional victory. In the future, I’d like to transition into a new industry and further my education through post-graduate studies.
AU helped me achieve something I thought I would never attain, much less go after.