Achieving high grades in an online world

At the start of 2020, Xinyi had her bags packed, ready to fly to Adelaide to fulfil her dream of studying abroad with a Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence Scholarship from the University of South Australia. But before she could get on the plane, COVID-19 changed everything. Australia's borders closed, which meant Xinyi couldn’t fly to Adelaide for the start of the semester. Thankfully, her university approached her with an innovative solution which allowed Xinyi to start her studies online by enrolling external mode. We spoke to Xinyi about her experience studying in Adelaide when she is not actually in Adelaide.

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International student Xinyi from China

Where were you at the beginning of 2020?

I was getting ready to come to Adelaide to start my degree at the University of South Australia. I’d booked my air ticket, packed my suitcase and scheduled my O-week events like the international student welcome reception and guided city tours. I was eagerly anticipating my life in Adelaide, and looking forward to joining UniSA clubs, volunteering in the community and making new friends.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic change your plans?

Everything changed before I could even get on the plane. The borders closed so I couldn’t travel to Australia to start my double degree in the Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Bachelor of Business (Finance). I was so disappointed to see my study plans disappear overnight.

How did the university help when you could not come to Adelaide to study?

My university contacted me to ask if I’d want to study externally until the borders opened again. At first, I was unsure. I wondered if the external mode would be as effective as studying on campus. After discussing my options with Ask Campus Central and my course coordinators, I changed my enrolment to external mode.

How do you feel about your decision to study through external mode?

I don’t regret my decision at all. I quickly adapted to my new study environment with the support of university staff and my fellow students. I’ve enjoyed the experience and ended the first semester with high distinctions in three courses and a GPA of 7.0. I am sure my success is because of the support from my teachers, who were always happy to help. I got responses from teachers quickly, which helped me significantly understand the materials of the course. Also, the peer assisted study sessions (PASS) provided extra help for me to review the contents of the course and interact with fellow students.

How have you created connections with your university community while studying externally?

I was able to engage in virtual events, including career workshops, as well as have phone consultations with my learning advisers. These online events evoked my excitement about university life, and I appreciated all the great work through this hard time.

How do you feel about ‘studying in Adelaide’ when you’re not actually in Adelaide?

The University of South Australia’s ‘study online now and transfer on-campus later’ mode has enabled me to continue my studies during this worldwide health emergency. As a member of the university community, I’m willing to do whatever I can to make it thrive. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you guys when I come to Adelaide!

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