Does real life get in the way of student life?
Let me give you an idea of my situation. I dropped out if Uni when I was twenty years old, couldn’t be bothered, rather just go out and drink with my friends. Really wise choice, I’m sure you’ll agree…Cut to eight years later and I’m actually thinking ‘Urgh wish I’d done my degree…’ to the point where I’d have this really strange recurring dream where I’d just have to submit one more essay and they would let me back in, no questions asked.
The recurring dream was gradually becoming a nightmare for me, as I slipped from one poorly paid job to the next, knowing that I had the brains, but perhaps had lacked the application. Well, reader, at the age of 27 I took the plunge and enrolled back into university – The Open University for a degree in History. Have you ever seen Educating Rita? Well, it’s exactly like that. Woman goes to uni and finds herself. Only I have three children; aged 10, 2 and newborn, a husband, a job, a house and a blog to run. Probably in that exact order.
As a student, I obviously have the woes of essay and exam time. Here are some of the highlights from my mega-busy time as a Mum and a Student.
2011 – I was pregnant with my second daughter and trying to complete a Social Science module. I missed all my tutorials because I was a huge pregnant fatty and worked full time. I passed by the skin of my teeth and vowed to never do that again.
2012 – I did Medieval to Modern history module. Maternity leave meant that my duties were mainly domestic, and I was happy with that. I attended all tutorials with numerous baby-sick stains on my clothes, and was met by my husband a bored tween and a hungry newborn, as I stumbled out with my satchel and ten-pages of scribbled notes.
2013 – I loved the balancing act so much that I once again got tubbed up. Baby was due in March and my exam was in June. Joy of joys. I revised before they took my blood, I sat in the park pushing the baby on the swing, book in hand. I contemplated bringing my module notes into the delivery room but even I am not that dedicated. I banished my husband and kids from the house for eight hours a day three days before my exam.
Well, no more kids for us. My next module on Empires begins in a few short weeks, and I return back to my office job around the same time. I have two modules to go until I graduate. I’ll be honest, I love it. My typical day involves all the 50s housewife stuff, a day of office grind, an evening of hard study and kids to bath, run around after and generally drive me bonkers enough for me to let off some steam writing my blog!
How to Manage?
I often get asked how I do it. Everyone has a full plate with whatever is going on in their lives whether it’s kids, work, studying or anything else. Prioritising and organisation is key. My tips for students, kids or no kids:
· Have your goal in mind – being qualified for whatever you want to do, or just the sense of achievement on graduation day. Just keep this in your head – sometimes it is hard, but just keep the target in sight!
· If you’re short of time use any spare time to read – on the train, on the bus, on the toilet…every minute counts, you’d be surprised how much information you’ll take in
· Have a break – buy yourself a bottle of wine, box of chocolates or whatever your thing is, to celebrate getting that essay in on time – you deserve it!
· Not going to make the deadline? Ask for an extension. I have extensions for nearly every essay; unexpected events don’t be too hard on yourself.
So that’s it. I’m not perfect, I don’t have all the answers – but I’m a pretty good juggler, and come graduation day, I’ll be the one jumping around like a lunatic, waving my knickers around in the air….