THINKING

Olivia walking on campus with a water bottle and backpack

FlexiTrack was my sliding door moment

Olivia Skalko, 21, Sports and Exercise Science

A little about me

Hi, my name is Olivia. I’m from Albany but I moved to Perth to study Sports and Exercise Science with a Graduate Diploma in Exercise Physiology. I used to compete all over the WA regions for the Albany Swim Club for many years. I also played netball and tried a range of other team-based sports, as I enjoy a team environment.

I was raised in a close-knit Italian household on a half-acre property close to town. Neither of my parents got the chance to finish high school, so they really encouraged my sisters and me to further our education.

Unfortunately, I had a very hectic Year 12 experience and some unforeseen circumstances were a huge distraction on my studies. My grades suffered and my ATAR did not reach 70, which was what I needed to get into uni. Luckily, Murdoch offers the university preparation course FlexiTrack, which I was eligible for and so I was able to get in this way.

My journey to university with FlexiTrack 

I always knew I wanted to go to uni; I just needed to find the admission pathway that was right for me. I had considered doing a Cert IV, but after doing a bit of research and talking to university student ambassadors, I found out there were a few enabling course options that suited me better.

I was surprised to find out that FlexiTrack is free! Also, as it is an online course, I could stay in my hometown for an extra year and not have to immediately give up my job and move to the city. I realised it would help me get a head start in my degree – I’d learn how to write university assignments with references, get a student number, access to support and meet my tutors.

I had so much support

The tutors were amazing. They were always adding to the group discussion pages and responding to the comments. Whenever I had a question, I’d email them and within hours I would get a reply. This was super helpful as I was studying while working full-time, so I didn’t have much spare time.

During the course there were group discussions and participation marks. That was interesting as you could see where everyone else was up to and get different perspectives on the same question.

The transition to uni from a country town

Being from Albany, everyone wants to know how I’m coping and what it’s like moving away from home to study. I always say it was the scariest but best decision I have ever made. It has provided me with countless opportunities and experiences that aren’t possible in Albany. Overall, Murdoch has been my home away from home.

Every time I get asked what university is like, I always say how it has changed my life for the better and has given me confidence I never knew I had.

I’ve finally found my passion

I was a bit lost in high school, but on my first day here I knew I had made the right choice. Every day I’m excited to learn more and give it 110 per cent as I have the passion to do so.

In the Sports and Exercise Science undergraduate course, we do practical experience in final year. We get put into a placement and work with a healthy population to help them achieve their goals. Next year in the Graduate Diploma we do another practical placement with an ‘unhealthy’ population, so we can get them physically active again to manage and treat their conditions.

My career goal is to promote exercise physiology because it’s still a new field, and I want to help people with chronic disease reduce their pain and enjoy a higher quality of life.

FlexiTrack did more than get me into uni

It helped me out so much during my first year. On day one of my undergraduate course, I already had my student number and email sorted, plus I knew how to write a university-level assignment. I had a real advantage and I got to just enjoy my first few weeks getting used to being on campus.

In school I was just scraping by, so to be getting distinctions and high distinctions now has been such a rewarding experience for me. I never thought I was capable of these grades.

Even if I did get the required ATAR score, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I would still have completed the FlexiTrack course as it benefited me so much.