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Information for family/whānau of distance students
Welcome to the Massey family and whānau! Whether you are the partner of a mature student returning to study, a parent, or the wider whānau or friend of someone studying at Massey, this page will give you an overview of what to expect.
A very important factor in the success of students is good support from their partners, family, whānau and friends. Your support and understanding makes a world of difference!
1. Common terminology
Not sure what the student in your life is talking about? The following may help:
- Each unit of study is called a course.
- A number of courses form a programme of study.
- Courses usually take a semester to complete.
- A semester is usually made up of about 12 teaching weeks plus two weeks of examinations.
- Semester One starts in February, Semester Two starts in July, and Summer School starts in November. Some courses and programmes have different start and finish dates.
- Stream is the Massey version of Moodle, an online learning community. Students can access course materials, connect with each other on online forums and submit their assignments.
- A contact workshop is when the student comes to one of the Massey Campuses for a few days to do face-to-face study.
2. Getting to know Massey
Make the most of opportunities to find out all you can about life at Massey. If students happen to live by one our campuses, then students are very welcome to use campus facilities. Come and have a look around. The Library, in particular, is open during weekends and evenings, and library staff are always willing to assist. You will also find Massey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Search for ‘Massey University’ and join us there. We also hold Open Days and Careers Expos.
3. What's involved in university study?
a. The Start
Courses start at the beginning of semester, although some programmes have earlier starts. Make sure your student knows the starting date for their programme, has the necessary textbooks and a study space set up with a computer, desk and space for books. Stream sites are usually open two weeks before the start of semester. This allows students to get familiar with the layout of the course and start early on the readings. For many courses, content is online and study materials may need to be requested if your student wants them in printed form.
These are pieces of work marked by the university that contribute to the student’s final grade. They could include:
- Written assignments (essays, reports, case studies, short answer exercises)
- Creation of digital media or online portfolios
- Online tests
- Group work and participation in discussion forums
Assignments can be scary and stressful for students, especially the first assessment in the course. Be aware of when assignments are due and offer support where you can.
c. Contact workshops
Many distance courses require students to attend face-to-face contact workshops, usually held at one of the campuses. Getting this organised, travelling, and meeting a large group of strangers can feel challenging for some new students. But the experience is well worth the effort. Help plan this early in the semester while stress levels are still low.
At the end of the course is perhaps the most stressful part of all – revising for the final exam. Students may need a lot of emotional support around this time. It is important that students have a solid study routine and they may need to prioritise their study over regular family, social and community commitments at this time.
4. How can you help?
As the support crew to a distance student, there is plenty you can do to help out.
a. Feed the dream!
Encourage your student to identify their goals and what they want out of their study.
Help your student plan for study. Have they got enough background knowledge in the subject or will they need to study some foundation courses? Have they considered all their options? Reflect their enthusiasm as they explore the possibilities of study.
b. Prepare the ground
Help your student get ready for university life. Do they have a quiet desk space and the required text books? Help complete all those little tasks around the house so that they can focus on study when the semester starts. Talk through how they will balance work, study and family commitments. Be prepared to be flexible if they need more help with household tasks or to be excused from some family commitments so they can have more time for study.
c. Keep the machine running
Support healthy life skills – regular sleep, good food, and exercise.
Time crunch - Before due dates for key assignments and leading up to exams, many students feel overwhelmed. Talk through time management at the start of the semester and ensure there is a plan in place for when time pressures kick in.
Stress - Be there when the going gets tough. Offer a listening ear or take the kids out of the house so your student can get some extra study time.
Motivation – At some point many students wonder if it is all worth it. Be there to listen and help reconnect them with the motivation to carry on. Sometimes it is not the right time to study. If so support the student to identify what they need to do, whether it is lessening the workload or returning to study at another time. If a student is thinking of withdrawing, encourage them to call the Massey Contact Centre to talk through their options.
d. Encourage seeking support early
The earlier someone approaches us with a difficulty, the more Massey can do to help. There are many services to help guide students through the challenges of study.
5. You have feelings too...
You might have mixed feelings about your family/whānau member studying. If you are a partner to someone studying by distance you might find the new routine takes a little time to get used to. If you are a friend or whānau member you might have to adjust your expectations for social time. While it is important that you let go and support your family member to find their independence, you will remain an important source of encouragement and support. Stick in there through the challenges and when your family or whānau member walks on that stage to receive their qualification know that the applause is for you too.
Please contact us, we are happy to help.
Page authorised by Director of Marketing and Recruitment
Last updated on Thursday 28 November 2019