Hard work pays off for high achiever

Getting back into the studying process at UTS Insearch built confidence.
Getting back into the studying process at UTS Insearch built confidence.

Despite finishing high school in 2011 with a high ATAR, Sara’s first experience at university was not a happy one. She dropped out of her law degree after 18 months, realising it wasn’t the right choice for her. When she felt ready to return to university to study business, she was disappointed to discover that her abandoned first-attempt counted against her.

"I still had a good ATAR, and I thought it would be enough when applying to university, but the attitude was, ‘Well, you didn’t do well the first time, so we’re not expecting you to do well the second time.’ I was surprised by that,” she says. “It was demoralising."

When she approached UTS, they suggested doing her first year at UTS Insearch. “That was frustrating at the time,” Sara says, “because I just wanted to go straight into my degree, but when I read more about it, the diploma is essentially like doing your first year at UTS anyway. The outcome is the same."

Easing back into study

Sara soon discovered that starting with a diploma from UTS Insearch has other advantages. “You get smaller classes, and more teacher support. It worked out well for me because I was kind of eased back into the studying process. If you haven’t been studying for a while, it gives you confidence. So really, it worked out well in the end,” she says.

Now in second year of her Bachelor of Business at UTS, Sara topped her Diploma of Business program at UTS Insearch, winning a $5000 Outstanding Graduate prize. “The award was a lovely surprise,” she says, “I’m very grateful to UTS Insearch, and it feels good to know that my hard work was appreciated – that it paid off."

The personal attention she received at UTS Insearch made all the difference to Sara’s experience. She says, “My favourite part was always the teachers. I remember in my first semester, the teacher I had for Economics and Business Communications took me aside at the end of one of the classes just for a chat, and to wish me well. I was impressed that she cared about me as a person and I have fond memories of her being genuinely interested in her students. She recognised their different talents and took time to encourage them."

Sara is already working as an accountant and sees her degree as a means to further her professional qualifications. “It’s a bit weird, because I’m someone who doesn’t love maths, but I love accounting. To me it’s more about organisation of numbers – a lot of rules, a lot of logic. I like putting things in order and finding meaning in them, so accountancy is a good fit,” she says.

"At UTS, I can pretty much always find a night class, which I like, because when you’re working full-time you don’t always have the flexibility to go to classes in the middle of the day."

Making the most of learning and working from home

Due to COVID-19, Sara’s classes are currently online and she is also working from home.

"My dog, Jemma, is absolutely loving it,” she says. Her other companion in is her cat, Buttercup. While she enjoys their company, she says it’s vital to maintain human connections. “It’s important, with all this time at home, to still talk to people. I do a lot of FaceTime calls, and I try to stick to a routine and schedule for my work and study – and also for the sake of my sanity."

Sara has some other tips for Remote Learning. “It’s important to keep on top of the work,” she says. “When you don’t have to go to class, it’s easy to slip up on your readings, or homework questions and fall behind. I think a lot of people make the mistake of trying to do everything in the last few weeks. I’ve spoken to people who say things like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know we had an assignment for this subject.’ And we’re maybe in Week Seven or Week Eight – how could you not know? If you let yourself get behind, it’s going to be really hard to catch up."

To avoid becoming overwhelmed by challenges, Sara believes taking the first step is the most important thing. “It’s usually the best way,” she says. “I think we put things off because we’re unsure. We think we’re going to fail, but if you don’t try, you’re never going to get anywhere. So just take that jump. It tends not to be as bad as you imagine. You can pretty much overcome anything.