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Staying on course financially

Adults with children are sometimes unsure about whether they could afford to return to education. A current university student shares his thoughts.
I decided to start university when my little girl had started nursery 4 days a week. I have always had a niggling thought in the back of my head that I wanted to get into social work but never thought I had it in me to achieve my goal. I just thought that my daughter’s future would be a better one with me having a solid career. As I left school over 30 years ago, my qualifications did not allow me entry into university. I had to enrol on an access course at the Local college where I would gain the qualifications to apply.
My maths and English were out of date qualifications so I had to quickly do a Functional Skills equivalent to show I had the skills. This was a very easy part of the process as it showed me that I was capable, and helped to build up my self-confidence. Being a parent to a three year old child felt like a massive barrier to my starting university. I was unsure of being able to afford it for the main part. The grants and support that are available by no means make me rich, but they do allow me a chance to follow my dreams without putting me in financial hardship.
The one thing that I wish I had known prior to starting university was the quality and quantity of help that is available. No matter where I have struggled I have been able to access support which corrected my direction. It is also very useful to know that there really are a lot of other mature students who are taking the journey alongside you. Just because the course may be different; the problems we all face are similar. My plan is to take one term at a time and do my best. I am not aiming on coming first in my class but I am aiming on finishing the course and doing the best I can with all of the knowledge I have been given.

Current university student Alex shares his experience of returning to education once his child started nursery. Despite of the cost of living with with a young family, Alex talks about how he has been able to afford to live, study and take care of his daughter.

We all have different financial and budgeting needs, and this may be the time to take a look at how and where our money is going to be needed most during our studies. It may be that you are interested in a course that requires a significant commute, so travel will be at the top of your priority list. It may be that we have children of particular ages that will require different levels of childcare: nursery; breakfast or after school club. We may have health issues that require our financial investment in.

Previously, we have discussed that one of the key characteristics of an adult learner is that of life experience. We are likely to have raised families, have much experience of household expenses and are more likely to be more well-travelled than younger people. So, budgeting will be familiar to us, although we will have a priority to know how much we will have to live on, once we know that, we will adjust our lifestyle accordingly and make provision to increase our income where appropriate during our studies.

Check out the associated links to a range of advice and guidance on budgeting as a student.

  • Does what Alex say relate to where you are in your thoughts on returning to education?

  • How do you feel about moving from the Contemplation stage of change through to the Preparation stage, when we know that the Action is just around the corner?

Share your thoughts with others.

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Returning to Education as a Mature Student

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