University.. Changing degree.. going full time..
12 October 2020 at 10:06 pm #44759
I’m wondering if anyone would mind sharing their experiences of studying full time at university.. I’m a single mum of two teenage boys one 15 and one 17. My 15 year old has mental health difficulties and at present is educated at home. My 17 year old has just started his A levels at 6th form.. I currently work part time for a few hours or so each week and volunteer for an hour a week, which I would look to continue doing.. I am currently studying with the Open University part time (psychology degree) and have just started on the equivalent of my second year, but over the period of lockdown/Covid I’ve reassessed things and decided I wish to work towards becoming a counsellor instead.. The OU may not be able to offer the route to a degree in counselling (although I am going to query this option) so I am looking into a Counselling degree at my local uni. It would however be a full time course starting next Sept (2021) and I’m wondering how people have found studying full time whilst working, looking after my boy etc, as well as managing from a financial point of view?
Thanks for reading x13 October 2020 at 11:57 am #44765
Hello, I’ve studied a PhD full time as a single parent, mine were all under 10 at the time. It’s a bit different, as a PhD isn’t structured like a degree, but I did do my masters and was practically a single parent through that. The main issues are around finances, there is very little financial support available to those with children, and things like tax credits stop when you study, unless you work 16 hours a week (or more). You do have to be very disciplined with yourself, however most lecturers are really understanding of parents studying, so if for example your son was having a very hard time and you needed to be home, as long as it wasn’t all the time a good lecturer or personal tutor would send you the presentation delivered in class and allow you time to discuss it. Things like extensions for extenuating circumstances also cover the needs of your dependents.
Once you start the course, you can also make friends, and with permission from the delivering lecturer have them record sessions (I did this for a friend with disabilities). In terms of work, it’s hard. It depends what you have available to you, working as a counsellor whilst training isn’t really appropriate, and you need something you can fit around your studies but also gives you the required hours if you claim tax credits. You can always start your own homebased business if you have the skill set (i.e. offering business support from home or some charity positions offer paid roles from home working social media), if you run your own business you just need to prove to HMRC that you are trying to turn over a profit and putting in the necessary work. Your University will also have Uni Temp jobs, these can be things such as providing support to students with disabilities such as note taking during lectures.
In terms of the actual studying, for me I ended up studying mainly from 9pm-midnight as my children were younger and needed me present when they were awake. When it came to deadlines such as essays, I would have to beg for childcare, although some universities have rooms especially designed for parents who need to work with their children around them (I know yours are older, but just for anyone reading this who has younger children).
Check if your University have an Athena Swan award, this means they have shown they are committed to equality, and they normally have additional provisions in place for single parents.
It is tough, however your children are old enough to have some responsibility for their own care. Come up with a rota; who’s cooking on what night, who’s doing pots etc. You might find the structure helps your son with mental health concerns as feeling productive can be a massive lift and boost to the ego (though perhaps with a teenage boy cleaning isn’t seen as productive!).
Finally, check the course is accredited with the relevant governing body for your field (i.e. for Psychology it would be BPS).
Good luck13 October 2020 at 11:04 pm #44794
Hi.. Thanks so much for you reply, much appreciated..
I spoke to the Open University today regarding my options, but I’m not able to change to their foundation counselling degree as it’s a totally different set up to the undergraduate degree. So I’m now looking towards applying for a full time counselling degree as it’s the only cost effective way for me to gain an accredited qualification to practice as a counsellor.
I’ve been looking into the financial side of things, and how I would weave work into the mix, I’m a support worker at present so will hopefully be able to find something that fits in and around family and studies. I’ll also need to fit in a clinical placement, but as far as I can see that comes in at year 2 of the degree. I’ve been studying with the OU just over a year squeezing in around 18 hours a week study and it’s been manageable alongside work, family etc.
My son’s seem quite supportive of my studies, and do help me out here and there now, so I’m sure they’d step up where needed.
It’s helpful to know that the lecturers can be understanding of parents studying and that things may not always go to plan. I would be upfront with the university from the start regarding my situation as I’d need to know what support is available should I have to deal with anything related to my son.
It is all very daunting. I did consider full time prior to my undertaking studying with the OU. I am however glad I chose part time as it’s given me a good starting point for studying at degree level and I have proved to myself that I am capable. However, I fully appreciate that studying full time will be somewhat harder hence my decision to withdraw from OU study now and apply for 2021 intake. It will give me a year to sort things out financially, and with work and potential study placement.
If all else fails.. I can always return to OU study and complete an open degree adding to the modules I have already passed.
Thanks again for sharing your experience.14 October 2020 at 1:54 pm #44801
Hi I have currently dropped out of university due to covid and the decision to see my kids came first.
I was doing a foundation degree in healthcare practice and although I passed it came to much seeing my children helping them with everything and me helping the kids mum cause she has a disability that I couldn’t concentrate and was worried about stepping into a clinical environment.and catching covid 19 My children have autism and I also have a diagnosis so the coursework would of been to time consuming for me full time, I’m now in the middle of deciding whether to study part time. Through open university and looking at what courses are available. For the 2021 intake.