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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!
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 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
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.