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The flexibility of online learning: An interview with Charlotte Fagan

Charlotte Fagan is an online student studying her last year on the i-LLB 4 year course. Studying online can offer a different, more autonomous form of learning. We caught up with Charlotte to discuss her experience studying online at ULaw and how it gave her confidence and independence.

By Editorial Team. Published 20 May 2020. Last updated 09 March 2021.

I made the decision to study online, as I was working as a Project Manager at the time and couldn’t see myself leaving to complete my studies at university in person. I loved the confidence and financial independence that working gave me and didn’t want to give that up. At the same time, I also wanted to make sure that I had the right qualifications to get me where I wanted to be, so studying online seemed like the best option.

The flexibility of an online course has helped me in so many ways. Being able to work whilst studying has given me invaluable experience within the legal sector and has enabled me to grow my network. I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been difficult, because it has. There are a lot of things you have to give up, particularly if you work full-time and/or have a family. For me, having to give up every evening and weekend was difficult at first and my social life became almost non-existent, but you learn how to balance it and I can honestly say it has been 100% worth it. It gives you such a huge sense of achievement and really makes you think you can do anything that you put your mind to.

I wouldn’t say that I have picked up any particular relevant online skills that someone who studied in person wouldn’t have, as I think most things in life people can now do online. Studying online has however, perhaps given me greater day-to-day exposure of online resources. 

I can certainly see myself as a solicitor and would love to work in-house at some point during my career. With the current circumstances, I have no doubt that the job market and getting a training contract may be challenging and competitive, however I think that if you work hard enough for something you will get there in the end.

My top reason to study online would definitely be the flexibility that it gives you. If you want to pursue further education, but cannot or do not want to study full-time or attend university in person, then I encourage you to look into it further.

For those who now find themselves studying online for the first time due to Covid-19, my advice would to you would be:

  • Plan out your study week and make sure you stick to it. Set yourself goals for the week and try to change it up each week if you can.
  • Where possible, study first thing in the morning. Get up early and start straight away, the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.
  • Avoid distractions. Try to stay away from the TV, or your phone.
  • Make sure you have breaks. Go for a walk or make a coffee - if you have been staring at a screen for hours there is a good chance that you are not taking anything in.

I definitely think that the current COVID-19 pandemic will change how people consider online learning in the future. The ability to work and pursue further education at the same time is not talked about enough and I think it’s really disappointing that schools don’t encourage this as an alternative option to attending university in person.


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