Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Memoirs of part-time study (and a few words of encouragement too) - Hannah

It seems we’re quite a learned bunch in the library. We recently got to thinking about how many of us have enrolled in some sort of part-time study course whilst also holding down a job and juggling other commitments. Many of you will be in the same situation, feeling as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that you need to, so we thought it might be helpful to share a few ‘survivor’ stories. Over the next few weeks, some members of the library team will be letting you know about their experiences, offering a few pearls of wisdom along the way and hopefully reassuring you that part-time (or full-time) study can be really rewarding and that it’s all worth it in the end!

Hannah Meiklejohn
We’re starting our series with Hannah Meiklejohn, who has actually just left the library to join the team in Art and Design as Assistant for the School of Visual Communications. Prior to that, though, Hannah was a Library Assistant in Townhill Library and one of our most prolific part-time students! She originally started out as a full-time student, studying for a History degree at Swansea University, but changed to part-time in the second year to accommodate a full-time job (with us!). Hannah obviously caught the education bug because the year after graduating with her BA (Hons) in History she enrolled part-time for a diploma in creative writing. As if that wasn’t enough, she completed a short introductory teaching course last year and is currently in the second year of an MA in Philosophy on UWTSD’s Lampeter campus. It’s fair to say that Hannah is quite the expert in part-time study! Here are her thoughts:-
The Challenges
The biggest challenge for part-time students is finding time (quality and quantity) to study.  People who have spent time away from the education system may find the process of starting an essay again a very difficult and daunting task.  Even if essay writing is not a problem, fitting university work in and around your working life is the biggest area of concern for most people about to embark on a part-time course.  This could be caused by many things, such as difficulty in effectively organizing their time; job demands; family commitments; competing demands of hobbies and other interests etc. All of these things can make part-time study difficult.

You need to already be thinking about likely problems and their potential solutions in advance.  Some people find it useful to make precise plans or a personal timetable.  This is a good idea as long as it is made flexible. Understand that life sometimes gets in the way and some days you might not be able to do the work you had set out.  Be prepared for some tasks take longer than you had planned. You will need to be able to make adjustments to your study plans.

As well as finding time to study I need to make time for hobbies and interests, family and friends, and any other personal projects, all with a full time job.  It’s hard to fit it all in, but I find it gets easier with time.  I have been a part time student for so long that it’s almost second nature to me now.  For me it helped that I went straight from full time education, into continuing with the course part time, and I have continued to study ever since.  I think the best piece of advice I can give to new part time students is to simply try it out and see what works, and then stick at it. Once the right balance has been found it becomes a lot easier. 

Most of my history classes were on a Saturday morning which, after working a full week seemed like a horrendous way to start the weekend.  However, I got along well with the group and I was passionate about the subject so after the first week I realized it was actually an enjoyable experience.
For most people, leaning new things and enhancing career prospects are huge benefits to studying.  Making new friends, and using your mind in a different ways are also appealing aspects of studying.  You will not only gain a qualification, but you will gain confidence; satisfaction; respect from your peers, and a sense of achievement. 

If you’d like to read more of Hannah’s thoughts on part-time study, take a look at her article on page 14 of the current issue (no. 40) of Grad Mag.

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