Further education, university, study, parenting, motherhood

Going back to any type of schooling after having children can be a daunting task. You may find yourself in over your head, especially if it’s been a long time since you last studied (and if your best subject at school was recess). Before enrolling yourself to any type of course, it’s important that you really examine if you have what it takes to successfully complete the course you have planned – especially if you still happen to have rugrats at home with you each day.

First, each and every one of us has a unique set of circumstances. Do you have a child or children that sleep through the night? Are you working? Are you in a relationship? These circumstances need to be properly analysed before looking into further education. If you barely have enough hours in the day for yourself right now then adding to that load might not be your best option. Even if you’re thinking about doing an online course, you will still need to find the time and energy to successfully complete it.

Secondly, look seriously at what you plan to study. If you didn’t finish high school, don’t rush into a university degree even though some distance education providers will let you enrol in undergraduate degrees without prerequisite qualifications. It may be be tempting but perhaps start with a foundation course to see how you’ll cope. Vocational courses may also be a better alternative for your circumstances.

You’ll also need to be interested and passionate about the content in order to stay focused. You may be lucky to drift through your course with no obstacles but you also may not be so fortunate. For example, what happens if your child or a family member gets sick? This is a reality many adult students face. When choosing a course, ask if they have an option to defer, just in case the need arises. 

Thirdly, look at the study load. Universities offer part-time placements for a reason. A full study load of 4 units per semester will eat up an incredible amount of your time. On average each unit should be dedicated at least 10 hours per week. Can you spare a minimum of 40 hours per week for 3 years? 

Finally, if you have a combination of realism, ability, persistence and determination, there is no doubt you will be able to succeed. Remaining focused, particularly during demanding times, is essential. Completing further education after having children can be exceptionally rewarding and, as your children watch you commit to your studies, you are inadvertently teaching them to do likewise. If you feel the time isn’t quite right, don’t give up. Your time will come.

By Kim Chartres