Like a lot of year 12 students, Zainab didn’t get the ATAR score she was hoping for. The degree she’d had her eye on was suddenly out of reach. It was pretty disappointing, but Zainab refused to let her ATAR put an end to her career aspirations. Zainab did her homework and realised that Open Universities Australia (OUA) could help her get into her dream degree, regardless of her ATAR score.
Zainab had always wanted to teach – ever since meeting an inspiring teacher in primary school. She had her eye on a teaching degree through the University of Sydney, but come ATAR time, Zainab watched that goal slip through her fingers. “I calculated my ATAR before I got the official results, and knew I wasn’t going to get the score,” said Zainab, “I wasn’t that far off – probably 5 marks less than what I needed”. Zainab’s plan B was to study at Western Sydney University, but it would mean she’d need to move far away from home.
Determined to find the right path for her, Zainab did some research and landed on OUA’s website. “I found some teaching degrees, and I’d heard that Curtin is a really good uni” she said. Curtin University is one of a handful of universities that provide their courses online through OUA. Like at any university, OUA students need to meet certain requirements called prerequisites to get into a course. However, the difference with OUA is that you don’t need an ATAR, or a previous qualification to start a degree – there are other prerequisite options that can get you in the door.
Zainab had the option to complete 4 OUA units, with at least a pass result, to make her eligible for the course she wanted to study – Curtin University’s Bachelor of Education (Primary Education). She did exactly that, and now she’s on her way towards a career as a special needs teacher. She also took OUA’s short preparatory unit at the beginning of her course called ‘Preparing for Academic Writing’, which taught her things like essay structure, referencing, and proofreading. “It helped me to understand what to expect from uni study” she says.
Some of Zainab’s friends weren’t sold on online study – they thought it would be harder than going on campus. “Don’t listen to other people,” Zainab urges “just do what you want to do”. Zainab gave that advice to her cousin, who is now studying the same course online. Zainab admits that sometimes she misses not having a teacher in front of her, but she feels a sense of community within Curtin’s online group discussions. Quite quickly she got used to studying online and feels at ease knowing help is only a phone call away. “If I have a question, I always call an OUA Student Advisor. I think they’re probably sick of me!”.
The best thing about studying online for Zainab is being able to study in her pyjamas. Zainab’s Mum helps her maintain a study routine by waking her up every morning and telling her to ‘go to uni!’. In the evenings Zainab winds down, but if she does need to study, she can do it from any of her friends’ or family members’ houses. Their support keeps her pushing on towards her goals, even when the going gets tough.