"The flexibility of online learning allows me to study and complete my educational goals where I would not otherwise be able to. It would be impossible for me to attend lectures in the evening being a full-time employee and single mom of three."
Of all the concepts students are exposed to during their education, the one that may be most important to the distance learner can't be learned from a textbook. For mature learners, balance - achieved by the juggling of work, family and education, while still finding time to enjoy life - may be the single most difficult exercise to master.
Rebecca Merino maintains harmony in her life by placing an artful twist on work-life balance. While many would place schoolwork firmly on the work side of the equation, Merino equates completing courses as taking time for herself.
"People often ask me why I take all these courses on top of everything else I do," she explains. "But for me, learning new things and improving my education is something I do for me. I enjoy learning."
As a mother of three, a full-time employee and the pursuer of a Bachelor of Commerce, it's an invaluable attitude to have. After a full day of working with clients at the BC Pension Corporation, chauffeuring her children to sports practice and other activities, at home she turns her attention to the study of business and management principles, her first venture into formal education in over 15 years.
"I completed a business administration (accounting) diploma at Camosun College straight out of high school and intended to continue in the CGA program," she says. But first came marriage, followed by three children, and Merino put further education on hold. It wasn't until 2009, with her children growing more independent (her daughter is seven and her two sons nine and 14, respectively) that she was able to enrol in an Open Learning course.
She acknowledges that even with a positive mindset and the flexibility inherent in online courses, it has not always been a smooth journey. "I am notorious for thinking I have more time to do things than I actually do," she says. "I have just registered for a paced course, and I am looking forward to the paced experience."
With three courses left to complete before she is granted her long-awaited bachelor's degree, Merino has eagerly set her sights on an MBA - proving that anything, even a demanding program and busy life, can be manageable with the right mindset.
Victoria, British Columbia