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The following blog was created by Ivana Zuber, an online MSc in Software Engineering student who has since graduated.

As I am trying to think of a best way to describe my experience at the University of Liverpool Online, I’m thinking to myself…wow Ivana! You really made it! You can finally look back, and say – well done! Indeed, it has been an exhausting, demanding, and stressful journey, but most of all it has been extremely fulfilling, exciting and beneficial. After 8 modules, and the dissertation left to go, I can finally say – it was all well worth it! But let me start from the beginning.

Dear readers, my name is Ivana Zuber, I’m a 29 years old enthusiast, a mom of a 2 year-old girl, a wife, a perfectionist, and a stubborn knowledge craver – killer combination! So how did I get to the idea to study online, and why did I choose Liverpool?

About 20 months ago I entered a ‘peaceful period’ of my life, my baby girl turned 1 year, I just finished my first project as a senior developer, I got my Microsoft certifications, and I was hungry for more – more knowledge and more progress. I started searching for the most appropriate and recognized training and certification in the IT industry, and stumbled upon the University of Liverpool Online studies. As soon as I read their description of the Master of Science in Software Engineering course, I knew I had found my calling. Only a few days later (after a short evaluation and background check), I applied for the course. Their enrolment advisor contacted me promptly, and I began my journey. The enrolment process itself revealed that this was not going to be a walk in the park. I was surprised by their level of professionalism, and commitment – which made it very clear that this was not one of those ‘buy yourself a degree’ scenarios – no, no, no! Even the enrolment phase required a lot of writing, preparation, documentation, and interviewing, and I hadn’t even started the study!

Once all that paperwork was out of the way, I was finally back to school. My first (out of 8) modules in MSc in the Software Engineering course started, I got my first book, picked up my pen, and began writing. As you probably all know, these courses do not consist of classical exams, but are made up of continuous discussions (within the classroom forum), posts, essays, etc. Each week you are required to write approximately 2,000 – 4,000 original words in English! That should be kept in mind, especially if English is not your mother tongue. You are assessed and graded each week, on the basis of your submitted writing. It is expected that the writing be original, supported with references, critically examined, and within the scope of the topic and the required length. This may sound easy in theory, but in practice it is very demanding. Constantly coming up with thousands of unique words can be very frustrating, but for me, it was the most rewarding process of all. I take a look, from time to time, at my past assignments, and think to myself – wow, I wrote that!? Indeed, if you are up for it, this course can bring the best out of you: force you to think – not just ‘cram’, critically evaluate other students’ work, and learn from your classmates’ experiences. Therefore, be prepared for sharpening your brain and your ‘pencil’, and spending approximately 20-30 hours a week on your studies.

As you probably have realized by now, I am very proud to be a member of the University of Liverpool community, and I believe that the decision to get my MSc from the University was one of the best decisions of my life. However, I also have to note that the last 20 months have been the hardest months of my life. Keeping up with my professional, family, and study commitments made me almost drop my studies several times. Another aggravating factor was my perfectionistic nature – B was never an option for me, I was either to give my best, or none at all. This kind of attitude can be very dangerous, especially for a full-time employed mom, and would not have resulted in the successful completion of the course if it wasn’t for the tremendous and unconditional support from my family.

I still have my dissertation left to finish, but I am confident that the level of knowledge I gained, and study habits I adopted over the last two years will be sufficient to bring this adventure to a successful end. Hopefully, this time next year, I will be looking at my MSc degree on the wall, and deciding which of the newly opened doors to go through next.

Editor: Ivana graduated in December 2014.

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