Online university reveals new horizons
By ANN-MARIE MAY
SHE puts the washing in the machine before settling in front of the computer, ready to accept the flow of great ideas that should be arriving any time soon.
After what seems like just a few minutes pass she is ready to start typing, but something suddenly catches her eye, forcing her to stop after keying in just a few lines.
How can she possibly create a masterpiece with that staring accusingly at her. She moves swiftly to the kitchen and with one wipe takes care of the offensive crumbs that somehow escaped the daily breakfast clean-up.
With a feeling of satisfaction she makes her way back to the computer, but again something stops her in her tracks.
The laundry is ominously silent, which could only mean one thing ? the washing is ready to be hung out.
It's decision time. Leave the wet lump of clothes where they are for an hour and risk more creasing or put the masterpiece on hold for just a moment longer?
The washing wins out.
And so the day continues for Coffs Harbour's Yvonne Quadros.
A single mum who cares for her adult son with a disability, Yvonne has joined the worldwide trend of women furthering their education through cyberspace while juggling daily duties.
Yvonne, who is studying an online Bachelor of Arts from Curtin University, previously worked in an office but wanted to do something completely different and learn new skills.
"The course has certainly opened up my life," Yvonne said.
"I now volunteer at the local gallery, enter art exhibitions and recently did a tour of England and Europe to see great art."
While admitting that it wasn't easy finding a balance between her studies and personal responsibilities, Yvonne said juggling was something that all mothers, and fathers, did every day.
That's not to say she isn't very proud of her achievements.
"I am proud to say that I have completed all my first year units. As an advocate for consumers with mental illness, I would like to teach art to adults and disadvantaged people in the community," she said.
More older women are now enjoying the convenience and comfort of studying from home, according to Open Universities, an online education service.
"The advantage of studying through Open Universities is the flexibility," Yvonne said.
"The staff and tutors are supportive and encouraging. I enjoy the contact with other students through the discussion groups ? it helps with assignments and we have interesting dialogues."
With women comprising more than 60 per cent of Open Universities' students, there are inspiring stories, like Yvonne's, Australia-wide, according to Ann Deden, general manager of Academic Products and Services at Open Universities.
"A record number of women are enjoying learning at their own pace and in the convenience of their own home," Ms Deden said.
"Online study reduces the discomfort and alienation more mature women may experience on campus.
"It can be pretty uncomfortable if you're over 30, sitting in classes with 18-year-olds."
n For more information about enrolling at Open Universities Australia, contact a Student Adviser on 1300 36 36 52.