By Radiyah Chowdhury
One of the most difficult things about studying in Ottawa is braving the cold winters each time class rolls around. But thanks to Carleton University OnLine (CUOL) and the advancement of technology, students can study at Carleton from anywhere in the world.
Olutunu Oyelola is a 24-year-old student doing just that. In 2014, she graduated from Carleton with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and is now working towards a second degree in law while living in Lagos, Nigeria.
After completing her BA, Oyelola says she felt like psychology wasn’t for her and ultimately decided to move back to Nigeria. She served in the National Youth Service Corps for a year before deciding that she wanted to pursue a master’s degree. But she ran into problems because she graduated with a general degree as opposed to an honours.
“Most schools [say] you didn’t do a thesis, so you don’t really cut it to get a masters…I was like, what do I do?” she says.
While figuring out the schooling situation, Oyelola started work as a public relations consultant and found that she really enjoyed it.
“I finally found my passion. Like, yes, this is it, I really want to be in communications and media [or] public relations,” she says.
So she contacted Carleton and found she was still active in the system. Oyelola had a law minor while studying psychology, but she had undeclared it, which left her with some unused credits. She was informed she could use those credits to take a couple more classes and complete a second bachelor’s degree. This would ultimately help her apply for a master’s.
“It was kind of a weird decision to make…I don’t want to quit my job, I don’t want to leave Nigeria – it’s so warm and nice here. I don’t want to move, so what do I do? They’re like, well, you can just take courses online,” she explains.
“I didn’t have to give up anything,” she says. “I got to be in school at Carleton…I know how to navigate this, nothing is new to me. I know how to submit my assignments on cuLearn. I did this for four years so it’s kind of a nice, comforting place to be.”
Oyelola says the time difference between Canada and Nigeria puts her at an advantage. Because Nigeria is hours ahead, she submits assignments earlier than the due date in Ottawa. On the flip side, she says the hardest part of being a distance student is consistent electricity, but adds that she comes from a middle-class family, so she has access to a generator.
“If I didn’t have that privilege I probably wouldn’t have considered doing online coursework,” she says.
For anyone considering following a similar route, Oyelola has some tips. If you’re planning to complete a degree remotely, she advises submitting assignments on time because Internet connections can be faulty depending on the location. She also says to give yourself 30-minutes leeway time for any surprises, and encourages students to reach out to people in their classes through online portals so it doesn’t feel as isolated of an experience.
But most importantly?
“It works, it actually works. You get out as much as you put in.”
If you’re interested in learning more about online learning with CUOL, visit our prospective student page and find out if CUOL is right for you.