Pursuing her dream career as an illustrator, veterinary nurse Alysha McDowell was studying online with IDI towards a BA (Hons) Illustration degree from the University of Hertfordshire. She has found that online study has been the perfect solution for helping to gain the required qualifications to fulfil her ambition of becoming an editorial illustrator without having to put her life on hold.
"I think anyone who is considering studying online should go for it. The possibilities are endless with IDI and it is so easy to fit it in around everything else going on in your life. The tutors are fantastic and I know I can always go to them with questions and they will be happy to help. I've also met some fantastic people on the forums and it's great to see familiar faces at the start of each semester!
"Before I learned about online study, I assumed I would never be able to get the qualifications I needed to pursue a career in design. Studying online has proved to be the perfect solution as it allows me to fit my studies in around my working life rather than the other way around, which just wasn't viable. I love the freedom that studying online provides.
"Studying online was the only option I could consider as a mum and part-time worker. I was surprised with the number of activities during each semester, which definitely requires a lot of persistence and self-discipline in order to keep up with the programme. This course, however, gives a lot of flexibility so I can always find time to study, even if I am away from home. I've also received a lot of support from my tutors who have guided me through the modules."
"Last year I managed to travel across Australia while continuing to study with IDI. It was amazing to be able to study and travel at the same time! In the future I hope to travel some more.
"Having never studied online before I did a lot of research before choosing an institution to study with. IDI provides a lot of information on their website about their courses, making it easy to see which modules I would be undertaking and information about each one. I was also able to read interviews with current students, which provided a great insight into studying online. I requested a call back and soon received a call from the IDI team who were happy to answer all my questions and give me some more information about the course. Another benefit of IDI is that they have 3 start dates per year, so I didn't have to wait long before beginning my studies.
"I am really enjoying my studies at the moment. I find the most challenging part is managing my time effectively; when you don't have classes to go to it can be easier to put off the work for another day. Luckily, I really enjoy the assignments and I am finding it easier than I thought it would be to manage my time as I look forward to working on the projects.
"My tutors have all been brilliant so far, and are always happy to help. At first I was concerned about how long it might take to get feedback on a submission, but they are always very quick and I am never waiting long to receive feedback on my work. They are always encouraging and often give me a new perspective on my work. Before I began my studies I had one style and I stuck to it. The tutors and students at IDI encouraged me to move out of my comfort zone and experiment with styles I would never have considered before. Now I feel that I have a wide range of styles in my portfolio and I am more confident in approaching different briefs. Aside from the tutors, the staff in Student Support and other departments are absolutely great, they are always happy to answer any questions.
"I also enjoy the social aspect of IDI. I initially thought it would be a lot of isolated work but IDI provides forums to allow students to talk and provide feedback to each other. Some of the students have been with me from the beginning so it's great to see a familiar face at the start of the semester. In this industry I believe feedback and constructive criticism are crucial so I am always keen to hear my fellow students' opinions.
"My biggest dream is to be an illustrator. I would love to have my work published, and even better would be to illustrate a children's book and have something to show my children when I'm older."