In 2009, I found myself alone with a baby boy. I had a job but I was still filled with a sense of overwhelming dread: how on earth was I going to provide for us and give my son the best life?
As something of a knee-jerk reaction, I enrolled on a part-time Law degree course. So with my son still in nappies, I found myself surrounded by piles of textbooks, pulling caffeine-fuelled all-nighters to finish essays, before tootling off to my day job.
I loved studying and enjoyed my course but it was definitely a hard slog. By the time I’d got my cap and gown, I was ready to say ‘enough is enough’ and decided not to go on to study for professional qualifications to be a solicitor (but never say never, etc).
With all said and done, I’m still glad I chose to study. So with this in mind, what advice would I give to parents thinking about studying? Well, here’s my two-pence worth…
- If you’re studying to enhance your career prospects, research your chosen career extensively before taking the plunge. I do think anything is worth the graft if it takes you where you want to go.
- Be hyper organised – about four weeks into each term I’d be in utter chaos, with my notes in different notebooks, handouts all over the place and behind on listening to my lectures. It takes real determination to stay on top of things. Plan how you’ll stay organised before you start each term.
- Maximize your time – listen to audio lectures when ironing, read notes while drying your hair… whatever works for you. Read EVERYWHERE (except when driving or operating heavy machinery, of course!).
- Be prepared for curveballs – the day before a deadline will be the night your child throws up all over their bed…
- Don’t put yourself under too much pressure. You’ve got other priorities, so accept that you can only do what you can do.
- Listen to your lecturers – what’s their pet topic? Chances are they might set an exam question on their specialist area.
- If you’re doing group work, try to work with fellow students in the same boat or who at least understand you have parenting commitments.
- Get involved in extra-curricular activities (no, not that kind) if you can as it helps with meeting people and can also give your CV a boost.
- Think about whether the course will involve work experience or a placement and how you’ll work things around that.
- Be kind to yourself. Eat well, exercise, spend time with your family. Heck, even put your feet up with a mag and a cuppa for five minutes every once in a while!