When you’re a busy parent, the thought of studying can be a daunting one. There are so many things that you have to do; not only cooking, shopping, cleaning, and all of the commonly thought of things, but also working, sorting out finances, and being there for your family as the parent that they need you to be. It is exhausting, and sometimes you feel like you’re just destined to be at the back of the queue for a while, whilst everybody in your family needs your help and support. But what if we told you that you don’t have to be last place, and you can actually study whilst maintaining all of the things that you’re doing right now?
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well we’ve put together some advice so that you can advance in your career (or just learn about something that interests you) without the stress that you would imagine (tuition fees, lack of time, commuting to university, the list goes on…). These worries, which are commonplace amongst mature students, have caused numbers in older students to decline by 60% since 2010, which we simply think is unfair. Because if you have the ability to do it, why not? Read on if you want to find out how you can balance being a student, and being a parent.
Go for part-time study if you don’t have the time
If you’re daunted about going to university as a mature student because you don’t have the time, then don’t be put off by this. There are plenty of ways to study, and no university experience looks the same for everybody. You can study part-time, which essentially means that your course will double in length (a two year course will turn into four years) but you’ll be doing half of the full-time weekly hours. No matter how long it takes you to do your degree, the point is that you actually get it. So don’t be worried about going part-time, especially if your only free time is when your kids are at school.
The main thing that puts people off studying is the financial burden that they believe will come with it. Whether you decide to go part-time, or full-time, you’ll still get enough of a student loan to cover your studies, so look into to this before you decide that you simply can’t afford to study. This also applies if you want to go part-time so that you can carry on working; don’t try to balance family life, work, and study if you don’t need to. You’ll get a loan that reflects your situation, and you won’t have to pay back the whole thing at any point. You pay back a sum each month, which is deducted from your salary, and this only happens when you earn over £20,000 a year.
Stay off campus and study online
There are many things to think about when you go to university, and one of them is the time that it takes to commute. Not only do you have to pay for the petrol money (or the train, which can be expensive), but those midday Costa trips and university lunches can also pile up, especially when your course mates ask you to go for food after lectures. Then, you have to spend a great amount of time getting ready, commuting, and balancing all of these things with your commitments at home. But what if you could avoid all of these time-consuming, and costly, things, and get more flexibility because of it?
This is all possible, if you opt for studying online instead. All you need to have to facilitate this is an internet connection, so you can do it in a library, a coffee shop, or even at home if you’d prefer to. You can do this through a variety of universities, such as the Aston University online courses or the Open University. You can have flexibility over when, how, and where you do it, and you’ll also be able to save money on commuting costs. This is particularly convenient if you need to be at home for your children, after school and in the mornings. This is certainly worth looking into if you’re a parent wanting to study.
Believe in yourself, and stay positive
One of the main barriers to mature students may simply be that they don’t believe that they can do it. As a parent, and an older person, you have experienced life in a way that a lot of 20-something year old students haven’t, so don’t underestimate your ability to be a great student. You’ll be doing this because you want to, and that will give you a step forward, and the ability to really ace your degree. The main thing is passion, and the drive to succeed, so don’t worry about ‘being too old,’ which holds too many prospective students back.
You also have to set realistic expectations for yourself; you won’t be able to give 100% of yourself to your degree if you have existing commitments, especially given the fact that most university students can spend all of their time on their studies. But if you manage your time wisely, and you do all that you can as well as keeping up your commitments as a parent, then you’re doing great. Don’t beat yourself up about not having the real ‘student experience’; things will be different for you, but they will still be worthwhile.
Look into evening classes and night school
If you work in the day and would rather complete your studies a few nights a week, then this is also a possibility. This is beneficial if you would rather be face-to-face with a lecturer or teacher, and you’d like to experience the social side of studying, as you’ll get to make friends with some of your classmates. You can still do this on a part-time basis, and you won’t have to be there every night a week. There are a variety of night universities and schools around, if you think that this is for you and you want to find something local.
Night schools are particularly well-known for languages, but the courses (and the costs) vary. You don’t even have to go to a school or university, as there are plenty of places that offer these kind of educational opportunities. This even includes classes on how to make boutique furnishings, so there will be something for you whether you want to learn about business, or how to make a floral wreath and look after vintage furniture. Look into it, and see what night schools could offer you as a busy parent, wherever your interests lie.
Look into the courses that you can do at work
There are also opportunities to do courses at work, such as NVQs and Level 2 and 3 courses, and whilst these things don’t contribute to a degree, they’re still good ways of studying as an adult. NVQs are a good idea if you don’t have any prior qualifications, as you can begin at any level and work up to the highest qualification. There are no age limits and no requirements when it comes to previous education, so have a look into this, especially if you’re already in a role where you’d benefit from progression. NVQs are easy to do alongside a full-time job, but you can also do it if you’re part time or just want to study something (perhaps more vocational) that interests you.
When it comes to Level 2 and 3 courses, there are a variety of options out there, and you can do them at a college, or online. Basically, in the modern age, there’s nothing that you can’t do on a computer. And that is brilliant news for a busy parent, but again, if the social aspect is important to you, have a look into the courses at your local college. You may have to pay for some of them, but there are free opportunities too, which is great if you don’t want to commit to a student loan and you don’t have mountains of savings for your studies. It’s also a good idea to speak to your boss, and see if there are any courses you can take to help you progress through the company.
There are many things that you can do if you want to study, but your children (and perhaps your job) take up most of your time. Don’t think that it is an impossible task, because if you think about your options thoroughly, you will find the perfect course for you. Look into part-time studying if you’re on a tight schedule, and don’t worry about the fact that this may make your degree longer, as it will be worth it in the end. You can also study online, or do work-based studying, so don’t think that your options are limited to the conventional degree structure! Lastly, believe in yourself. There is no age limit on studying, and as a parent, you’ve amassed a great amount of knowledge that you may not even realise you have. Good luck, and study hard!
Disclosure: This is a featured post.