DEAR SANDRA – The Advice Column

THE VOICE - October 9, 2002

Dear Sandra,

I have a major problem with motivation. I let things slide – particularly course work, and then have to cram it all in at the last moment. I’m paying through the teeth on extensions and I’m still not getting things done. I mean to try, but distance education seems so easy to put off when real-life pressures and (okay, let’s face it) recreational activities are right in front of me. I don’t even know how to begin to organize or plan better, and I’m so tired when I get home from work that movies, bars, bowling, going out for dinner are all way more tempting. Help!

Mixed Priorities

Dear Mixed Priorities:

I am surprised the $496 you pay per course is not motivation enough. I hear you though, it is a lot easier to procrastinate when you are studying long distance than it is if you are in a traditional classroom and assignments are due on certain days. I find myself starting out with the best of intentions of being on a schedule and all of a sudden out of nowhere that schedule is shattered because it is a month to finals and I’m only halfway through my courses. Extensions are one answer to this problem, but they are costly. Studying like mad for a month, getting stressed out and hastily finishing assignments is another, but that compromises your academic performance and your sanity.

So, what is the solution? I have found that taking university seriously works. Easier said than done I know. I took drastic measures to force myself to study. I disconnected my cable, I made a comfortable trendy area of my house to study in, and I learned to say no! I try to do as much of my schoolwork during the day, which leaves my nights free. For someone who works days, why not devote your weekends to studying so your nights are free. Going to university, especially if you work full or part-time and/or have a family, is extremely time consuming and you need to realize that all this money you are spending will be wasted if you do not commit yourself to studying.

Another solution is to find a study buddy. AUSU keeps a database of students looking for study buddies who are taking the same courses. It is a little easier to stay on track when you have someone else keeping the same schedule as you. AUSU also offers study skills and time management booklets, see the website at

Finally, the last solution I would propose is that if your life is so busy with extra activities that you cannot give up, ease up on your course load. This of course will mean it will take you even longer to finish a degree, but if your social life is more important, this is your best bet. You cannot expect long-distance university courses to be any less time consuming, or easier for that matter, than a traditional university. Yes, you are free to make your own schedule, but it is still an extremely demanding schedule.


This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of