Merry Christmas – now get back to work.

I haven’t been into this blog for a while, been a bit busy with work and a whole heap of other things happening. Just checked out the WordPress Reader and really interested to see that my former student colleagues are back onto the blog as part of their current unit.  When procrastination strikes I will have a quick read and see how things are going.

And that is in fact the root of my problem at the moment, procrastination!  This term is not going as well as the first two, for a number of reasons.  Studying has become a challenge, we have friends living the in ground floor of our house, a family of 5.  Previously I had an area down there as my study space, where I could just get stuff done, without interruption or distraction.  Now that’s not the case and all I have is kitchen table upstairs, where I try and get stuff done while the general chaos of family life continues around me.  The other factor is that I’m just not into the units this term and there’s reasons for that as well.

LAWS20058 is practically identical to LAWS11030, which I did in term 1 when I was on the bachelor course.  It is interesting, but there’s nothing new (apart from the textbook), so it’s not grabbing my focus as much.  I’m most of the way through the assignment and getting my notes in order for the exam and not much else at the moment.  All is this probably just as well as STAT20029 is driving me insane.

This is a unit I am finding a series challenge and making me regret my choices.  I can do the functional maths that I need for work, not a problem.  But if you want me to work out the probability of “woman aged 28 – 55 in the workforce who are married”, sorry I haven’t a clue!  I last did statistics over 25 years ago, and while I understood it enough then, I’m struggling now.  It may just be week 4’s probability section, and I really hope it is, either way it’s been bringing me down.

Which brings me back to procrastination.  I’ve one unit I’m not fully engaged with and one unit I’m finding hard and no real study space, which means I procrastinate.  I write my running blog, I go for runs, suddenly I really need to sort out my sock drawer.  I know I shouldn’t, I know what I’ve got to do, I’m just not doing it as well as I should.  To overcome this though I have been spending entire days at the CQU library in Bundy.  The sad thing is even spending eight hours on a subject it doesn’t feel like it’s sinking in.  Which compounds the issue.  Fortunately they are both open book exams and P’s make degrees so all is not lost.

I spent the day in the library on Sunday and slacked off the last three days, obviously it’s been Christmas, and as smallest childs birthday is Christmas Eve time needed to be spent getting ready for all that and then enjoying the day.   Now that’s all over it’s time to get my act together and get on with it.  After all it’s not going to learn itself.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas.  I going to read my law text book and do some calcs as long as I don’t get distracted….

 

 

hey look a squirrel!

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

It’s Sunday night and week 4 starts tomorrow.  For a number of reasons, some work, some domestic, some just plain stupid, for me this term isn’t going as well as I’d liked.  I’ve taken on two units as I want that piece of paper early next year that proclaims Graduate Certificate on it, as this gives me options in 2020.  However given the nature of the units, this is feeling like a big ask.

Law, remaining reasonably comfortable with this.  Law is law and the structure is similar to the undergrad unit I did in term 1.  The expectations are different though, a different text book, hard copy only, no e-book, which is much harder to follow as it only sights case numbers meaning I need to get on the web with every case mentioned to find out what was going down.  This will make the exam prep very challenging to get the most relevant cases ready for the day.  Not impossible though planning and more effort required.

The challenge is Statistics.

statistics

I last did statistics 25 years ago and when I went into this term full of confidence, I’m not so sure now.  At the end of week 3, we’re now covering topics I’ve never experienced before which need to be presented by hand in the exam and by Excel in the assignment.  So not only do I have to learn a new concept, I’ve got to learn new ways of using Excel.  I’ve probably spent far too much time than is healthy trying to find a YouTube video to enable me to work it out.

It also took me an age (and the support of my wife) to realize that the reason I couldn’t work out the Geometric Mean Rate of Return was because my cheap Kmart calculator didn’t have the correct function button to allow me to do so.  So it’s off to Office Works in the morning for a new one.

So far this weekend I’ve spent about 12 hours in the CQU library and most of that time has been spent doing two assignment questions (which are not yet finished) and watching this weeks lecture.  Not the greatest of learning experiences so far.  It’s now gone 8pm and I’ve had enough, I think I’ve figured out some of what I need and will start again in the morning.

It’s at this time I reflect that, as there are thousands, maybe millions of accountants around the world, they can’t all be cleverer than me therefore this stuff really can’t be that hard.  So challenge accepted and we will continue in the morning.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Here we are again, at the end of week 1 of term 3 and back on the books.  Despite my concerns I did rather well last term with a distinction in the Economics and Accounting in Australia units.  Fortunately my wife is in the UK at the moment, I say fortunately as she wants to give me a good slap for daring to be concerned about the exams.  She has far more faith in me than I have.  Which is even more surprising considering we met at university in 1992 and I was definitely less than a model student.

Term 3 brings with it Australian Commercial Law and Statistics for Managerial Decisions.  Both have started well. With Law, apart from a different text book and higher expectations (it is a Masters course after all) there doesn’t appear to be many differences to the the Law unit I took in term 1.  Lots of reading and making sure I’ve good notes in preparation for the exam.  No worries here.

Statistics is a bit different.  Lots of reading and lots of working through examples, both on the computer and by hand. This one will just take practice.  It’s been 25 years since I last did stats, having read the first chapters of the text book, I’m not overly concerned.  Practice, practice, practice.  Then in 11 short weeks I can walk away with a Grad Cert in Professional Accounting!! A bona fide qualification that I can do something with.  That’s something to aim for.  All this is great, unfortunately outside of Uni stuff it’s been a pretty tough week, which prompted some thinking.

Which brings me to the question, why didn’t I do this sooner?  I’m really enjoying the learning experiance, I’m meeting great people and rising to teh challenges of teh course.  so why didn’t I do this earlier?  This is what I’ve been thinking.

In 2014 I was made redundant, in a very nasty way when the Bluetongue Brewery in NSW was  closed down.  As part of the government support package I was given the opportunity to do an Advanced Management Diploma, which I started and enjoyed, but didn’t finish.  This was a mistake.

Due to the nature of the closure, missing out on a job in California and some other corporate nastiness that caused significant stress, with hindsight I believe I was not in the best place to make decisions and as a result we packed up and went back to the UK.  If I had been thinking straight and beyond the career that had defined me to that point, a Master Brewer with an international career, perhaps I would’ve realized that there are other opportunities out there.

I think as I was so used to being the “big man”, at home, as the primary wage earner and at work as the leader and expert, suddenly not being in that position was a shock.   So my aim at the time was to get back into that position.  Which I have done sort of.

I’ve spent over 20 years as a brewer so I know a lot of stuff about my particular field.  I can walk through Dan Murphy’s and see dozens of beers that I’ve brewed.  Some of which were first perfected in Australia due to my skills.   Now I make soft drinks and rarely drink beer, I’ve come to the conclusion I’m really not that interested in the beer culture anymore.

This is part of my mindset change that started me down the accounting path. Move out of what I know and can do with my eyes closed into something new that I can do for a very long time to come and do anywhere in the country.

If I’d realized this in 2014 I could’ve done this course in NSW, my wife would’ve remained teaching at a school she loved and I wouldn’t have paid out thousands from my redundancy to move from NSW to Northamptonshire in the UK and back to QLD.  However the move did provide new experiences for the family, so it wasn’t all bad.   As they say hindsight is 20/20 and I can see it all clearly from the lofty heights of  2019.

I’ve just read through this post and it’s taken a completely different tone to what I had planned, what it has done is remind me that experiences bad and good all help define the direction we take and the person we are or wish to be.  If I had done this in 2014, life would not be the same, but then I would’ve had different experiences in the last 5 years which may not have given the same result.  So I’m quite happy where I’ve ended up.

Throughout these first two terms and into this one I am continually glad that I have taken this opportunity to study and aim for a new career.  I hope those of you reading this feel the same.

Happy studies

 

What do you do before an exam?

Just looked and my last blog entry was in week 3.  Been a bit busy in the meantime.

calm exam

We’re now in week 12 and it’s exam time.  Over the last 9 weeks I’ve made some new friends and worked as a team on the accounting assignments, where we did rather well.  I’ve done the online tests for both accounting and economics and submitted an economics assignment.  I’ve read every page in the text books and done loads of practice questions.  For accounting I’ve done all of last years past papers multiple times.  And now what?

I haven’t taken a closed book exam for 15 years.  I can’t recall what I’m supposed to be doing?  Should I desperately read all my notes?  Should I redo all the test questions?  Should I write out all the ratios that I think I might need?  These are possible good things.  What I’ve actually done is drink tea, go on Twitter and the washing up.  And write this.  Procrastination and avoidance appear to be the go at the moment.

These exams are odd.  I was under the impression that to pass the unit I needed to pass the assignments and pass the exam, which I thought needed at least 50%.  Turns out I’m mistaken I only need to pass the unit.  So I need 15/60 on accounting today and 20/60 from Wednesday’s economics and they’re passed.

Does this take the pressure off?  Yes, it does.  Does it make me more anxious as it seems too easy?  Yes, it does that too.  My wife and my accountant friend (doing her MBA with no exams this week) seem to believe that I’ve got this in the bag.  I probably have, but until I take a deep breath and see the paper I have no idea.

A long time ago as part of my Food Tech degree we had a business unit.  The night before the exam I was coaching my housemates on the subject, full of confidence.  In the exam, disaster, I had nothing.  I do not want a repeat of that.   I feel it’s unlikely, but until I get to see that paper at 2pm, it’s going to niggle at me.

I’ve 3 1/2 hours before I leave for the uni.  That’s a lot of time I can spend doing something.  Not sure what that’s going to be though.

The other odd thing is that #1 child, who is at the Rockhampton CQU campus (I’m distance with CQU at Bundaberg) is also taking exams today.  If you’d said to me over the last 20 years that there would be a day where one of my children and I would be taking exams at the same time, I would’ve called you out as being ridiculous.  Yet, this is where I find myself.  Funny how things work out.

I’m going to sign off with this gem from REM.  This was my pre-exam song throughout the early ’90’s at uni and when I did my brewing exams.

It’s not the end of the world and I feel fine!

For those of you also doing exams this week and next, good luck, you got this.

 

If it was easy…..

Week 3, not fun.  I’ll be honest, it’s been a challenge this week.  In accounting it’s been more journaling entries and adjustment of accounts.  In economics, supply and demand elasticity and markets.

I understand the concept of accrual accounting and the need to adjust entries at month end to avoid overstatement or understatement on the financial reports, but can I successfully transfer this understanding into my workbook?  Not consistently.  I’ve found that I think I know what I’m doing then I find I’ve over complicated it or missed something simple.  I am fortunate that the lecturer has been very quick to respond to my questions.

Economics continues to be a whole lot of words and graphs to complicate what should be quite simple.  Consequently a lot of it remains a mystery.   I had a win in a Zoom meeting with one to the lecturers where I was the only one to dial in.  This did mean we could focus on what I wanted instead of what he’d planned to share.  At the time it all made sense, the next day, not so much.  He was impressed that I was on track, as many of his Sydney on campus students don’t appear to have opened the book yet, that does make me feel a tiny bit better.

It’s been a frustrating week as I should be getting this stuff nailed down, but then it is a lot more challenging in terms of volume of information to absorb and the output required each week.  I suppose if it was easy everyone would do it and it isn’t easy for that very reason. It’s not called a Master Degree for nothing.  On that note this blogs loosely related song is Something for Nothing – The Reverend Preston’s Big Damn Band.  If I want this degree I’ve got to work for it.

What’s working well is the study group with Lucy and Suzy, between us we’ve the first assignment for ACCT20070 practically completed, which is a positive for us all.  It’s a good support network.

This is the end of the first quarter of the term, even though this week has been a struggle I’m still enjoying the challenge and remain confident in that positive outcome after the exam block.  Roll on week 4.

 

Happy Studies

Not Enough Hours in the Day

Week 2 is now over, what a difference to the Bachelor course!  I had anticipated that as it was a step up course there would be a higher expectation and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  Not sure if I was expecting that high a step up.

ACCT11059 was a breeze in comparison to ACCT20070.  The bachelors was definitely a gentle (re)introduction to learning, spreadsheets and the mechanics of accounting.  In that unit we were looking at the output produced in a company report and trying to decipher it. In the MPA we’ve dove straight into the first principles, with a simple intro in week 1 & 2 looking at the basics of income statements, statement of changes in equity and the balance sheet.  This was a new one for me as it introduced the process of journal entries and the transfer into a T-account.  A process that wasn’t introduced in ACCT11059.  Once I’d nailed how debits (on the left) and credits (on the right) and which ones were normal debit or credit balances, I was feeling pretty confident and can knock out a journal and ledger along with the financial sheets pretty quick.  Then week 3 has happened.

I’m comfortable with the concept of accrual accounting, the process of actually doing it is another thing entirely.  I’ve spent the better part of the day trying to work it out and I’d say I have a comfort factor of 50% and rising.  I’ve started to wind myself in knots so I’ve stopped for the night on that.

I’m enjoying the challenge that accounting is presenting and the joy when I crack at concept, it’s not all rosy though.  Each week our lecturer sends out the solutions to the weeks questions.  I was very disappointed to find multiple errors throughout the solutions.  A number of emails have gone Monika’s (unit leader) way today to inform her of the issues.  Another positive is that we did have a Zoom with Monika that added value, so she knows who we are (Suzy, Lucy and I) and hopefully will be active in supporting us.

Economics, so much reading!! Two chapters each week that are really in-depth and need to have notes taken.  This is my first time studying economics, I’m finding it interesting though struggling to think like an economist.  I’ve run into a couple of questions where my cynical, practical approach doesn’t match the expectations of the books solution.  It’s still early in the course so I’ve plenty of time to learn.  I’m understanding the concepts, though trying to answer a question that expects a graph is a bugger.  Give me the data and I can plot a graph, no worries.  Try and draw one without data, not a hope.

Another plus is that I’ve got two study groups, Lucy and Suzy in accounts and Trevor and Tiff in Economics.  L&S have been in active communication and we had a Zoom this morning which was helpful.  T&T, bit quiet at the moment, we’ll see how they all go.

With so much reading there’s not much space in the day for much else.  It’s late to bed, early to rise and lunchtime spent reading.  Fortunately (well not really) I’m still off running for a week or two, so there’s a bit of extra capacity because of that.  It is a case of eye on the prize and that first interim award at the end of term 3 and the potential new career, so I think it is definitely worth it.

 

Leveling Up

And we’re back.  It’s officially week 1 of term 2. But for me it’s technically term 1 of a new course.  I’ve moved off the Bachelor of Accounting and leveled up to the Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)  There’s a bit of a difference.

While doing the two units last term was fun and I achieved good marks, I really have nothing to show for it apart from a bill to pay, some  intangible benefits and some new friends.  This last point btw is the one I’m most pleased about.

I’ve had my course mapped out so I can pick up interim awards as I progress and my next couple of years looks like this.  Not much room to move in this plan.CC57 plan

Fortunately for me, I am currently off work after having my hernia operated on last week.  I’ve got until the 23rd to get as far ahead as possible before I got back to office.  When I first looked at going onto the MPA I had assumed that it would be a bit tougher with more content and higher expectations.  After all, participants are expected to already have a bachelors degree and should know what they’re getting into. I had assumed correctly and as I found yesterday it turns out that there are parts of the MPA that are shared with the MBA.

This week I have made a start and practically completed all the tasks for ACCT20070 and ECON20039.  What I have noticed is that though the content isn’t particularly challenging at this stage the volume of reading and activities to go through at the end of each week is considerable.  At the end  of the first chapter of the accounting text book there are 16 pages of questions to go through.  I could take the easy way out and just wait for the answers and then fill in the gaps.  Really though, that’s not the way to do things properly.  The accounting unit is an introduction, delivered with a very different style, content and expectation to ACCT11059 from the Bachelors.  I’m actually quite pleased that I did that first, that unit has given me a decent grounding to get into this one.  If it was my first ever unit I would be a bit more concerned.

ECON20039 is interesting. I’ve never studied economics before.  Key take outs so far; it’s all about resources and choice and you can only spend money once.  There are limited resources and the choice is what to do with the resources available, what output is required.  To choose one output over another has an opportunity cost, this cost increases as the output of one of those choices increases at the expense of another.  There is also the concept of the Production Possibilities Frontiers, which is a fun thing to get ones head around.  There’s also a heap of graphs and other concepts that will no doubt surface as the weeks go on.

What was good about the ACCT11059 unit was the requirement to create this blog and interact.  This worked really well for me, so in an attempt to form a study group I looked on Moodle to see where and who the distance students are.  I emailed all participants. noting that there are some doing both the units as I am, and waited.

I am now in a little WhatsApp chat/study group with Suzy and Lucy, both MBA students in Rocky and Mackay.  They’re both doing ACCT11059 and FINC20018, so we have a shared aim in accounting and for me the inside track on a unit I won’t be attempting until next year.  From our chat last night I’m confident that this will be a positive term.

Midway through week 1 I’m happy that I’ve leveled up, I understand the expectations of the MPA and the workload will be greater and that’s OK so

challenge accpeted

 

Making the grade

Term 1 is officially closed with the release of grades today.  I am astounded to say that I did rather well.  A HD in both ACCT11059 and LAWS11030.   I am really pleased to hear from a number of my fellows that they have achieved good grades as well.

Going to put in here a thank you to Martin Turner, Maria Tyler and Ronald Farran (Law) who have been most excellent in their support, feedback and incredible marking speed this term.

What I am more pleased about is that my daughter Alice, who has just completed her first term at CQU Rockhampton, has achieved three HD’s and a distinction in her Bachelor of Oral Health Therapy degree.  She’s done this while being a Resident Associate and dealing with other peoples drama’s.  My daughter is amazing.  Must take after her mother, who is also amazing.

As for me I have never in any study ever achieved this well.  Quite possibly due to a number of factors that are different to my original student days

  • I’m 45 years old and don’t have the stamina to spend all day in the pub
  • I’m paying for my education (no course fees in ’90’s UK universities)
  • I’m “slightly” more mature in my approach to learning
  • I have an example to set to my children
  • I want to learn and put the effort in. (I was very lazy the first time)
  • I LISTENED TO MY WIFE WHEN SHE SAID MY WORK WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!! and took her advice and made the appropriate changes, (she did say the same thing at Uni the first time, I should’ve listened then too)

If you speak to my Uni friends they will tell you that back then I was a terrible student and I really shouldn’t have achieved.  It is surprising how things change as you get older.  What this term has taught me is that I can manage all of my commitments, I can learn new things and I enjoy learning, sharing what I know and helping others (though I do a lot of that at work anyway).  I’ve really enjoyed the interactions with my fellow wannabe accountants through the Facebook page, through the PASS sessions and made some friends along the way.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed is that as I run less, I’ve actually put on a kilo and a half in weight over the last three months.  Need to work on building in more activity into the study plan.

Term 2 has effectively started and fortunately for me I have two weeks off work of uninterrupted study as I recover from a hernia op.  I’m sad to say goodbye to the Bachelor of Accounting and my fellow students on that course, though I’m looking forward to the continued challenge on the Master of Professional Accounting.   All being well, we all come out on top at the end of it with everything we want and expect.

Let the studying commence.

 

New Term, New Beginning

I started this blog as a task for my first accounting unit.  It seemed an odd thing to do at the start, but as the unit progressed I could see the point.  As I’m no stranger to blog writing it wasn’t a particularly arduous task to keep it both updated and meet the unit requirements and I quite enjoyed doing.  Pretty certain it helped a number of my fellow students along the way as well.  Now that particular unit is over, what to do with this blog?

Term 2 starts officially in 8 days.  A new term and a pair of new units and a new course.  I have really enjoyed my first term as a mature student, both accounting and law units were really interesting and I’ve made some friends along the way.  The friends, I hope will remain as I step up to a new course.  As this week I start on the Master of Professional Accounting post grad degree course.

The first part of the Bachelor was fun, a good introduction into the planning and focus required to balance life, work, study and everything in between.   All good things to take into the Masters degree, a degree course that suits me better.  I’ve gone from a 24 unit course over 4 years to a 14 unit course over 2 years.  The added benefit is that the MPA offers interim awards, so if I want to step away into another career I can do it sooner than waiting the four years to get the Bachelor qualification.

As for the blog it doesn’t form part of the MPA.  I think I’m going to keep it up as it’s fun and might help someone along the way.

Today’s loosely connected song is Asian Dub Foundation, “New Way, New Life”. I used to live in Slough, a very mixed race area  West of London.  When we were there we were privileged to be invited to a number of Sikh and Hindu weddings, they had great music and food, which led me to be a fan of Asian Dub Foundation and this my favorite song, which is reflecting how I feel at the moment.

Good luck everyone in Term 2 and beyond.  Happy studies.

 

And relax! But not for long.

That’s it term 1 is done.  The only exam that I had this term was done this morning. To be honest I was a bit concerned.  Would I be able to write for three hours, would I survive without the hourly cup of tea that I have during my work day, do I even know the subject matter?

As it happens, none of this was a problem and I rather enjoyed myself.  Thanks to our PASS leader Danielle I had taken her advice and wrote up notes and cases instead of tagging my text book.  This was a perfect way for me to prepare.  In writing the notes I was refreshing my memory and the areas that weren’t in my notes I knew where they were in the text book, so it was easy to get to the information I needed.  It turns out I do know the subject and the questions fell into the areas that I was comfortable with. Three hours went past in a blur of statutes and case law and the handwriting went a bit ragged as the time went on.  My only real concern is can the marker decipher my handwriting.

With this exam done I can now relax for a week or three.  Or not, as normal work continues and domestic duties and DIY is planned by Mrs F.  Running will definitely be involved.  All this sitting and studying is making me fat.

The other question to be considered is do I stay on the Bachelors or switch up to the Master of Professional Accounting degree?  This is 14 units and would taken 2 1/2 years of two units per term, compared to the 24 of the Bachelor where I’d need to wait 4 years before having a qualification.

With the Master degree I can get interim awards at the end of each block of units, so technically I can have my Graduate Certificate Professional Accounting by Christmas, which then gives me an escape route into another career.  By the end of 2020 I should achieve the Graduate Diploma and by 2021 the Master qualification.  Bachelor or Master I’d still have to start at a level below my current earnings to begin my new career, unless I can engineer something.  A few more things to consider before I make up my mind.

Meanwhile I’m going to enjoy the rest of my afternoon, perhaps read a book or enjoy a game on the PS4, and get back to almost normal tomorrow.  Rest easy people, next term is on the horizon.

time to relax