Students

Smart move for all students

Student Willa Whitewolf & Peter Jeffery

Student Willa Whitewolf and Peter Jeffery, of the City of Greater Bendigo economic development unit.

Bachelor of Strategic Communication student Willa Whitewolf says anyone new to uni should do themselves a favour and enrol in Smart Skills.

The pre-uni program equips students for the year ahead, ensuring a smooth transition into academic life.

For Willa, it demystified many of the fears she had about returning to study as a mature-age student.

“I’d never written an essay in my life,” she says. “I hadn’t written anything longer than about 400 words, and I was enrolled in a writing course!

“I was completely terrified and I had a real expectation that I wouldn’t be smart enough to pass… And I had some unusual challenges to be here.”

The mum-of-six still had five children at home at the time her course started. Two years later, she’s inspired many other mature-age students who may have doubted their abilities.

Willa has been called upon to share her story during Orientation Week and its mid-year equivalent, Bruce Week.

“When I say ‘I’m doing this with five children still at home’ I know I’ve maxed out the amount of housework anyone in that room is doing,” Willa laughs.

“It’s a good equalizer. People think, ‘geez, if she can do it, maybe there’s hope for me’.”

Willa started her own course mid-year, when Smart Skills wasn’t available. So she joined a mature-age study group and worked closely with La Trobe staff to gain the skills needed to tackle that first essay.

“Six months later when I did Smart Skills, it reconciled all those things I wished I’d known at the beginning,” she says.

“I would recommend that everyone does Smart Skills at the beginning, pre-uni. Before you take in a truckload of new information. It will help you prepare for that.”

As well as uni, and looking after those kids, Willa has freelanced on a number of projects with the City of Greater Bendigo’s economic development unit, and has started her own business.

“By the end of this year I’ll have a fully-functioning content production agency.” she says.

Willa says in the past two years she’s learnt a lot about herself, as well as her chosen subjects.

“I’ve learnt that I’m a good writer, that I’m a very capable person and that I have industry-ready skills, and I realised all of that in my first year,” she says.

The lessons have also filtered down to her children, having spent a lot of time on campus with their mum.

“Their language has changed,” Willa says. “They talk about what they’re doing at uni. It’s part of their understanding that university is a great place for young people to be, and that’s pretty cool.”

Whether you’re a VCE graduate or a mature age student, the Smart Skills program will improve your chances of a smooth transition into the academic year. Get a head start for the year and register for Smart Skills now.

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