It has become increasingly common for more mature people to return to education and to become students for the second time in their lives. This can be for a variety of reasons, including to further their current careers, to change career paths, to fulfil their potential or to increase their knowledge in a particular area of interest. Whilst many people return to studying full time as a mature student, others continue to work full-time and raise families whilst studying on a part time course.
Juggling the many commitments that mature students may have can cause conflicts of interest and difficulties in terms of time management and dedicating time to the different roles that we play, such as student, parent and employee. However, there are ways that mature students can manage the time that they have available to different activities, ensuring that they not only have time for studying, that they also have time to dedicate to spending with their families.
The first piece of advice for a mature student with multiple commitments is planning. Being aware of when assignments are due will help you to devise a calendar of when you will need to have studied topics by and when the assignments should be completed. This will allow you to decide when the best time slots are for studying and when you will be available to devote yourself to family life. Similarly, any family events that are upcoming should be planned in advance for as they will impact on the time that you have available for studying and completing assignments.
The family should also work as a team. Discuss with the family that you will need time to study and that this will require their co-operation to ensure that you can do this and still have enough time to spend quality time with them. Chores in the house should then be appropriately delegated to different family members, dependant upon age and ability, to ensure that duties are fairly distributed allowing you to have time to fulfil all your other commitments. Think of it as working together as a team within the family.
Choosing the best time of day to study will also help you to spend time with the family. If your children are at school during the day and you are not at work, then try to complete any studying then. Alternatively, study in the evenings after the children have gone to bed.
Try to work smart so that you minimise the time that you are studying and that you are not with your family. Learning skills such as how to take notes effectively or how to scan texts for information rather than reading all the information in depth will help you to achieve this. Discuss techniques for achieving these skills with your tutor as they should be able to offer help and advice.
Finally, don’t feel guilty if occasionally you have to spend more time on one of your commitments than on the other. It is bound to happen at some point and guilt is a wasted emotion. Instead, look back at the reasons why this situation arose and what you can do to avoid a similar situation from occurring again.