As someone who’s taken a break from education, you probably have more life responsibilities than the average student, like upholding a job, looking after your family and managing your household. This can make the thought of completing a degree at the same time seem near to impossible. But it can be done – here’s what our adult learner students have to say about managing their work-life balance.
Tobias Pritchard, Game Design and Development
I treat University like a job – and that has worked very well for me so far. If you only look at the hours you spend in lectures, you may think that you’re getting an easy ride. As an adult, being experienced at time management has ensured that I’m on top of all my assignments. I try to work each weekday from about 10 through to about 6 – and this has meant that I’m on top of all of my work and there aren’t any unpleasant surprises! This also ensures that I take weekends off – it’s really important to unwind, and the SU, Bradford city and even Leeds (if you’re feeling adventurous) are great places to do just that.
Julia Pennington, Biomedical Science
Honestly, I’m still working on it, but a little every day really helps. I’m lucky enough to have found a job in the area I’d eventually like to work (biomedical science within the NHS) with a zero-hours contract and plenty of hours available: if I’m busy studying, I am under no obligation to work.
Kulchuma Begum, Social Work
Being a mum of two very energetic boys, studying and managing a household has been tricky but manageable. I have found the best way to manage my time efficiently and ensure that I still have quality time with my children and extended family is to keep a colour coded timetable, as it allows me to allocate time quickly and efficiently to tasks that need to be done. The timetable also allows me to identify gaps in my time that I can use to stay on top of my work.
I found through trial and error that working on my assignments once the children had gone to bed worked well for me. To keep me on task I would set myself a target number of words to reach before switching off the laptop, as I found setting a time was no good as I often spent the time procrastinating.
Wayne Ryalls, Film and TV Production
Good question, I think it’s because I plan my day or indeed weeks. If there is a lot of work going on, I like to prioritise certain things and then work through them as the week develops. I have learnt it is better to get on with assignments rather than leave them until the last minute.
Elzarie Le Roux, Clinical Technology
It is not easy being an adult learner student – having to manage more than just your studies is hard. Fortunately, I do not have a family to care for yet, but I had to find a way to prioritise my studies, work and responsibilities. From a young age I prioritised my schoolwork with my extra-mural activities and I definitely believe that has helped me during university.
I keep a weekly diary which I update every Sunday to highlight my working hours and divide my study, work and relax time for the week ahead. I give myself earlier deadlines to complete assignments to ensure that I have extra time if an emergency out of my control should happen.
Jennifer Buck, Physiotherapy
I own my own home and so spend a lot of time commuting from home to Bradford and back. Instead of letting this eat into my personal time, I use it to relax and reflect on the day. I also like to put on some music, listen to podcasts or video blogs from others in my chosen field and make the most of the time whilst travelling.
Due to COVID-19, the social-side of university has been a bit sparce this year, but that hasn’t stopped me making friends and finding new hobbies. As much as it’s important to keep on top of studies, it’s important to look after your own wellbeing too. Bradford has a lot going on, from events, sports clubs, places to eat and the theatre. The transport links are great too. I’ve found that getting any work done as soon as it is given to me means that my weekends are my own for socialising and exploring.