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Student Rachael Gunton outside a school

22 November 2022

‘I saw how a university operates behind the scenes’: Rachael shares her Students As Partners experience

Deakin recognises learning is a reciprocal endeavour. This is why the University works to establish collaborative relationships between staff and students via the Students as Partners Program, in which students are encouraged to adopt a ‘co-creator’ role in their uni experience.

Student Rachael Gunton, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) online, recently took part in the Students as Partners Program. We asked her to tell us a bit about herself, what she worked on during the program, and what she learned from the experience.  

What are you hoping to do professionally once you finish your degree?
After completing my Bachelor degree, I would like to work as a counsellor in Equine Assisted Therapy while I continue to complete my Masters to become a school psychologist.

Tell us about your participation in the Students as Partners Program.
I was thrilled to be accepted into the Students as Partners Program and given the valuable opportunity to contribute to improving students’ experience with Deakin.

I worked with lovely coordinators, along with Learning and Language Advisers (LLAs), who guided me through the process to create a video aimed at breaking down barriers to accessing various Study Support services. The video was designed to provide helpful information and answer questions about who LLAs are, and what they can do for students, to reduce any hesitation in students utilising their services.

Throughout this project, I had the opportunity to see how a university operates behind the scenes. It was a real eye-opener as to how many people are actually involved in the running of both on-campus and online learning activities. There is so much work going on that you don’t see as a student, especially where staff are working towards changing accessibility and functionality to deliver an improved online learning experience. I was pleased to meet such lovely staff, who were incredibly supportive and really made me feel that my ideas were valuable.

What have been your biggest challenges while studying and how have you overcome these?
As an online student, studying alone can be challenging and isolating. While I know I have my unit chairs to contact for help, I also understand the demand for their time is high. I have always hesitated about asking for help, so in the past I would just take assignment feedback on board and tried to learn from it alone. I had initially looked at booking a Study Support session, although I hesitated when there was limited information about what happens in a session and how they could help me.

Over time, after finding I was still struggling with academic writing, I finally booked an appointment with an LLA. I was pleasantly surprised how lovely the advisers are, and the advice I received was far more personalised than what I was getting from assignment feedback. Therefore, this led me to apply for the Student as Partners Program, so other students like myself who hesitated to ask for guidance would take advantage of this wonderful resource that can only improve their skills through one-on-one teacher assistance.

How do you balance work/life/study and what advice would you give to other students?
I study part time, work casually, volunteer as an Ethics teacher, and I’m a mother of two.

Firstly, I always put all commitments into my calendar on my phone with regular reminders, this really helps me stay on top of things. Second, I complete most of my studying during the day while my kids are at school and run errands or work to take breaks. After my kids come home, I complete some housework and spend time with them. After dinner, we all have quiet time where I can continue studying. And finally, when I’ve had a hard day, I take the evening off and take care of my health by doing some painting, reading, exercise or just kick back in front of some TV. It can be challenging as an online student to separate home and work life, so I commit my weekends to put time into doing things I enjoy.

The best advice I can offer others is: don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may be stepping outside your comfort zone to seek assistance, however it doesn’t mean you’re not smart – asking for help is a strength and takes courage.

Want to know more?

Check out the Students as Partners Program webpage for more information.

And if you have any assignment concerns? We encourage you to either book an appointment with a Language and Learning Adviser or drop-in to speak with a Writing Mentor today via the Study Support webpage

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