I am now a qualified community developer and social worker, and it feels good. I have grown so much and today I stand as a completely different person to the person I was when I started this journey. I want to let you guys know this because I want those of you who are considering studying to do it, and for those of you who are part way through your studies to carry on, don’t give up, you can and will do it.
Studying as a single parent is the hardest thing I have ever done, I thought being a single parent was hard enough, I thought I knew what stress was, to be honest – I had no clue just how hard and stressful it would be. It took stress to a whole new level. I’m being honest as I want those of you who are considering taking on study to be prepared.
Here’s a few study tips:
· Put time aside daily Mon – Fri for your out of class study, and keep your weekends free for your children and yourself, your children will be a little neglected as you won’t be so available to them (it sounds bad, but is a normal reality of studying for all parents whether they are single or in a partnership) and you will need to make time to dedicate to them.
· Financially it’s going to be hard, real hard, do what you can to save money beforehand, and learn to budget. I’ve had to finance myself to the hilt just to be able to live day to day with the bills paid. Unfortunately the Sole Parent Support Benefit or the Student Allowance is not enough to live off, especially if you live in Auckland like I do. Fortunately the government were talking about implementing the Accommodation Supplement into the Student Allowance from next April, if this goes ahead, and if your child’s other parent pays a decent amount in child support (which you receive when receiving Student Allowance) then this may make life a bit easier financially for you.
· Sign up to Market Research companies to try and earn a few extra dollars, you never know just how handy those few dollars will be.
· Join a study group made up of other people in your class, this will be a huge benefit, talking things over, sharing ideas and just hearing about how other people feel helps with you learning and absorbing what you have just been over in classes.
· Make time for you, just you, without the kids, without your study books, just you and some peace.
· Celebrate the end of each semester. Each semester is another milestone passed, and it deserves to be celebrated, even if it’s just relaxing with a glass of wine.
· Check campus noticeboards, TradeMe and other website for secondhand text books. If you want to buy them new, then I recommend www.bookdepository.co.uk it’s in the UK, but they provide free shipping and most books are a lot cheaper than what you’ll find them here. Also check online for them in ebook form, you may be able to find a free copy, that’s if you can stand being able to work from digital copies (I prefer paper, which is ironic considering I’m a greenie who likes to play my part looking after the planet).
· Hunt out and build relationships with other single parents in your class (there should hopefully be at least a couple of others). Building tight relationships with those who are going through a similar experience really helps, you can lean on and inspire one another when it’s needed.
· If you have it, use as much family support as you can. Studying is more consuming of yourself than what working is. Study follows you home at the end of the day, and you don’t get paid for it.
I hope this helps, and if you decide to study – Go for it, you will not regret it! Do it for you, do it for your kids, and do it to give your family a better chance at life!