Studying and raising children at the same time can be challenging, here are some tips to help you if you are wondering whether being a student parent at university is an option for you.
Do student parents get extra help with higher education funding?
The answer is yes, typically students with children or dependent adults in the UK can qualify for extra funding through student finance. Depending on your situation you are able to take various different routes to do this such as Childcare Grants, Parents’ Learning Allowance, Adult Dependants’ Grants for full time students only and Child Tax Credit and extra help open to part time students also. As every student’s situation is different it is helpful to use the student finance calculator which will allow you to see the options available for you.
Can I live in a student accommodation with my children?
If you are looking to move to another city to study then there are many benefits of living in a student accommodation. Living in a student accommodation is very convenient and offers the option to socialise with other students. This can be an important detail of student life, however, the safety and comfort of your family is always a priority. Depending on what university you are attending determines whether family accommodation is available through the university. Universities such as University College London, SOAS, University of York, University of Leeds,University of Manchester and many more provide student accommodation on campus or close by. An alternative to this is the option of privately run halls and flats which is most cases is likely to be cheaper.
Will I be the odd one out and have nothing in common with other students?
As mentioned in our ‘A Guide for Mature Students’ blog, universities value having a variety of students on their courses. You will find that there are many students like you that are juggling more than just university. Many universities actually have societies for parents which is a perfect way to find friends who have similar interests and lifestyles.
What can I do about childcare?
Childcare grants are very helpful, it is money on top of your loan to help pay for your childcare whilst you are studying at university. Plus, as it is a grant you also do not have to pay it back. Most universities have childcare schemes in place therefore until you apply for university and secure a place you may not know which is the best option for you.
Can I work whilst studying at University?
It is common for students to have part time jobs whilst studying at university. Some universities recommend that their full time course is too time consuming and you may not have enough time to study alongside it. Juggling studying, being a parent and working can be done however it is not always possible for everyone. It is very dependent on your course type, for example some degrees require you to attend work placements some semesters which is very time consuming. There are other factors to take into consideration such as your children’s ages and family dynamics.
How will I have enough time?
We all know that being to parent is not a 9-5 job, it is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You never know when you are going to be up late with a poorly child or perhaps when you are going to have to deal with a tantrum your pre-teen has thrown your way. When being a parent you have to plan for the unexpected, this will be a great skill to have when studying. Preparation is key, the best tip to meet deadlines is to create a weekly timetable and schedule in time for your University work.
Should I consider an Open University or online course?
Many student parents attend Open University or online courses, this is a great option for you if you have young children and would prefer to be at home with them. Open University allows you to commit as much time as you can into studying enabling you the freedom of setting your own pace of study. The main downside to distant learning is the lack of social interactions, although there is a lot of communication between tutors and students you most likely will not have any peer interaction which can sometimes make you feel isolated.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to the path you take to being a student parent, all you essentially need to know is that it is possible, it is time consuming but it is also extremely rewarding!