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An online law degree with toddlers? Margaret did it.

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Balance work, life and study, Law, Online study
Margaret with her graduation gown on

Margaret Turnbull began her online law degree at Charles Darwin University with a one-year-old on her knee, and had her second child in her second semester of study. Margaret also managed to win eight awards and two scholarships, including one for a stint at Harvard Law School. And she graduated with a law degree in only four years, complete with first class honours. Wow.

Margaret is clearly a high achiever, but the supportive learning environment at CDU also played a big part in her success.

“I was really impressed by the online delivery of the course,” said Margaret.

I was worried about studying and raising my family and trying to find the balance, but the flexibility that online study provided meant I could manage it all. I would love to find out how many students had babies whilst studying. I know I was not alone!

Student holding graduation certificate and standing next to the CDU Vice Chancellor

“I was sceptical at first about studying online, but from that very first lecture I logged into, all my fears were allayed. I formed excellent relationships with most of my lecturers and always found them accessible by email or phone. And the standard of the lecturers has been incredible. From judges, to leading barristers to real-life practitioners, some with experience across the globe!

“Staff at the library were also always available to help, even at the last minute. The ability to borrow books whilst living interstate was also an excellent resource,” Margaret said.

Margaret also enthuses about her classmates. “I’m in awe of so many of the other law students in my cohort. For many they are the first in their family to attend higher education, with some never having finished high school.

Many are working parents, studying late into the night, yet they would still find the time to help their peers.

At CDU you really do feel part of a community, even if studying online.”

Margaret's tips for success

Considering all she’s achieved in her personal and academic life, prospective law students would do well to take a few pages from Margaret’s playbook.

I was really proactive in making sure I attended all my tutorials live, but I would mostly listen to recordings of the lectures to fit around my other commitments. This helped me to make connections with both the lecturers and my fellow classmates.

“I’m active on social media, participated in a number of study groups and volunteered for a number of community organisations. These are great resources in making connections and getting through. A law degree is not for the faint-hearted! But at Charles Darwin University you can have the opportunity to obtain a diploma in law before diving in completely. CDU also has an Indigenous pre-law and mentoring program. The more you put into your law degree, the more you’ll get out of it!” Margaret added.

And as you might expect of a super student like Margaret, she’s driven by altruism.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity. I see law as an important contributor to addressing some of the complexities around climate change, and help pave the way to a better future. With my law degree I hope to make a difference and contribute in service to the community,” Margaret said.

With two beautiful children and a string of impressive academic achievements delivered, Margaret is ready for what’s next. “I recently started a post graduate program with the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC). I’ll also start my Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice in 2020 so I can be admitted as a solicitor in NSW.” 

Ready to take your passion for change to the next level? Study Law and Legal Studies with CDU.

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