My reading this week is Wayne Booth’s ‘Rhetoric of Fiction’. It’s a very interesting book and really helped me think through the question, ‘What do I enjoy about studying?’ The first chapter of Booth’s text discusses the difference between what he calls showing and telling, which is essentially a choice about how information is presented. It occurred to me that how information is presented in my program is one of the things I enjoy most about studying the BA English with Goldsmith’s College and the University of London International Programmes. As I mentioned before, this program and pedagogy is one of the key reasons for my academic success. It is also one of the things I enjoy most about studying.
How information is presented is a powerfully influential thing. When searching for a degree program I found that many presented information and structured study in a way that seemed very limiting. For me there is inevitably an autodidactic quality to learning. Our English and Comparative Literature program strikes just the right balance between what information is provided, how it is presented and my responsibility for engaging and effectively expressing what I have learned.
I really enjoy the expectation that I will competently study on my own initiative. Our study year, from September to exams in May, is perfect. The study support seminars, essay submission, study guides, and online resources are excellent tools, and our program is truly distance learning. Many distance learning programs in America require several weeks of on campus residency during each year of study. For me this is not very practical and seems contradictory to the whole idea of distance learning. It would be wonderful to spend some time studying in London, but it is just as wonderful knowing it is not a requirement for my degree.
The ‘distance learning’ environment is a real pleasure for me. My schedule and personal preferences are disinclined toward a classroom based approach to study. Attending four classes two or three times per week is not realistic for me. The academic model here in America, with two or three semesters per year all with different content, is also difficult for me to engage with. With our program’s convenience comes a challenge. A more self-directed approach means that it is up to me to actively consider and manage how I learn as much as I must manage the course content. For me that is very empowering and is one of the most enjoyable and valuable benefits I have experienced here.
My experience in this program helps me make a contribution to the vigorous debate in America right now about the cost and quality of higher education. Developing and funding K-12 and university level distance education programs in conservation biology is part of my job. Evaluating programs in terms of convenience and accessibility, expense, academic standards, and the value of the credential earned are important considerations. I considered enrolling in campus based degree study and several distance learning programs before applying to the University of London International Programmes. I choose U of L because the other schools’ course offerings were not as interesting or rigorous. Their US$15,000 to US$60,000 per year in costs was not appealing. I enjoy that our method of study is suddenly considered innovative, cutting edge, and very modern. It just happens that the University of London International Programmes has been educating students effectively in this way for over 150 years. That is both comforting and inspiring.
I enjoy thinking about and engaging with the process of learning as much as I enjoy studying English literature. I love devoting part of every day to critical thinking, writing, and engaging with texts. It is difficult to imagine what my day will be like after completing my degree. Understanding what I enjoy about studying is valuable information, especially because I can’t help considering what the next step in my academic and professional careers will be. I have narrowed my academic choices to four possibilities, but one thing is absolutely certain. The experience of studying in this program is so enjoyable I will definitely pursue another credential after completing this degree. I have many reasons for continuing to study, but the pleasure of it, how much I have learned to enjoy studying, just might be the most important one.
Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes.