In our latest Arden University podcast, we speak to Margo Midwinter, a BA Business student who is completing her degree in Manila, in the Philippines, and featured in our We Are Arden campaign.
As a distance learning student, Margo chats to our host, outreach officer, Alexis Friday, about how she combines studying with a lifestyle that includes travelling and earning a living as an Instagram influencer.
Watch the video below or read on for the Q&A with Margo as she shares her student story:
Where are you studying from?
Right now, I’m in Manila – I initially wanted to go home to study, but with the pandemic and lockdowns I decided it was best for me to stay where I am. I came across Arden University and said: ‘this is it.’ I can get the education I want as all of my qualifications are from the UK, so I wanted to continue with that. I’m here in Manila because I started modelling at a young age in Asia and ended up staying.
What was it about Arden University that appealed to you?
I really liked the fact that I could study anywhere which I initially thought I couldn’t. Even though the time zones are different, which means I’m not present in class because it would be 3am my time, the lectures are recorded and uploaded for me. I think I’m learning more because every time there is a reading exercise, there is a task at the end which you have to get right before you can move onto the next section, so I do feel as though I’m learning more than if I was physically attending a university.
What degree are you studying and why did you choose it?
I’m studying an online Business degree as I had previously started an interior design course and from there wanted to run my own business. It also tied in with everything I’ve been doing and thanks to being in lockdown, there’s been plenty of time for studying! I do feel I’m getting further along the course than I think I would if I was physically attending the university – I’m flying through my first-year modules and that has surprised me.
When did you start studying with Arden?
In April 2021 – even though I enrolled in the Philippines, I’ve still been travelling when possible and studying at the same time. The first time I submitted an exam I was in Miami, so that’s how flexible the studying is – it’s a diverse and flexible course.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My days are very random! I check the construction of my interior design and source fabrics, then go to the bank which takes a long time in the Philippines – today, one transaction took an hour and a half! I’m always doing something – sometimes I have a photoshoot or somewhere to travel to. In July I was flying from place to place while finishing my Arden assignments, so it’s very crazy. My schedule includes a lot of planes!
What are you hoping to gain from your degree?
Within my own business, I can already tell I’ve learnt so much, such as how I would be as a manager or even in daily situations like today at the bank – a mistake occurred and the manager there shouted at the teller in front of me, which is not the way to handle that situation. I know that the correct approach would be to finish with the client and then take the teller aside and discuss the incident – so there are aspects I’m already visualising and applying from the course. There is a lot around self-growth, understanding your personality and the psychology of business which I didn’t expect.
How have you found your course modules?
They’ve been so interesting. With the understanding of our personalities, we took a test which also featured in our exam paper – it highlighted the importance of knowing what sort of person you are and what makes you tick so you can progress into becoming a better leader. The course is really teaching me a lot, how people perceive you and how you project yourself to the world – there was so much which came up and that was just in the first module!
What advice do you have for those considering distance learning?
My advice would be, you have to analyse yourself and commit to your study as it’s three years of your life, which if you’re going to be half-hearted about, you’ll find it more difficult as you’ll be alone doing it with online learning – it’s all about commitment.
I also always ask questions and the tutors at Arden are really quick to respond, which is great. If you’re in the UK, I would recommend attending the online lectures as they’re happening so you can ask any questions there and then, but as I sometimes can’t, I always follow up with an email and receive such supportive responses.
If you’ve been out of education for a while, there’s workshops and seminar classes so you can get up to speed on how to reference correctly and get back into it – if you’re hesitant, there’s so much support on offer.
For anyone currently studying, I would say it really helps to physically write down a schedule and pin it to the wall so you can visualise your day ahead, which stops you from falling into the trap of being unproductive.
What do you do outside of studying?
I’m an Instagram influencer – I gained a following a few years ago from endorsements which led to some TV hosting, but with the pandemic, I started to evaluate where I wanted to go and that was always wanting to study and why I came back to education. Since then, with the influencer work, it’s become empowering – I have to believe in the product or I won’t post – I want to be true to myself and my followers and build on that authenticity.
Discover more about online learning at Arden University here.