Over the past few months there has been a noticeable change to the way I live my life. It’s all to do with me having become a student again. The big change? I have become a lot more efficient in how I spend my time. I know students aren’t renowned for spending their time wisely, so this may sound like an oxymoronic statement, but I am an efficient student and I am finding the time to study.
What do I mean by this? Well, if I spot half an hour of time in a day where I have nothing planned, I will bury my face in a book or log on to my learning portal so I can concentrate on my studies.
I have no choice if I am going to achieve my aim of gaining a BA(Hons) next year. I am supposed to undertake around 40 hours of study a week and in all seriousness, that probably is about what I’m spending on my uni work. It’s quite a task, finding the time to study. Nothing else in my life has changed. I’m still the main carer for the kids, getting them ready for school each day and I also have to keep this blog updated as it’s my only source of income. Oh and just to throw something else into the mix, this efficient student is also planning for an impending house move so life really is busy.
What’s surprised me is how much extra time I have managed to find for my studies. Time I might once have spent doomscrolling, searching Facebook Marketplace for stuff to buy or sell or filling my time with other vacuous activities is instead used for studying.
This studying takes place in a range of interesting places. At home, in the car, in cafes and even pubs. In fact, I spend a lot of time studying in pubs. It might not seem like the ideal place for pursuing academic study, but both my kids spend hours each week at a local gymnastics club. There are no cafes or libraries nearby, but there are several pubs, so I often take myself off to a nearby pub where I can spend the time studying.
In an odd way, it actually works quite well. I have found it helpful to get out and work in different environments. Everyone is different, but if I spent my time sat at the one desk at home all the time, I would tire of the surroundings. I would be distracted by all the comforts home has to offer: Unrestricted internet access, snacks, drinks, talking to my wife and so on.
Of course, you may be wondering exactly what it is I am studying. Get comfy, because this takes a little explaining. I’m about to hit you with a lot of detail so if you’d rather get straight to the punchline, skip the next three paragraphs.
The simple answer is that I am studying three modules for a Bachelor’s degree. Two of the modules are focused on the English language, one on sociology and I’m doing all the study remotely.
It does, however, get a touch more complicated. Regular readers of Dadbloguk will be aware that when I was in my twenties, I studied for a Higher National Diploma (HND). This qualification is worth roughly two-thirds of a degree and I have been able to carry it forward and count it towards my final qualification.
As an HND is worth two thirds of a degree, you’d be forgiven for thinking I simply have to complete a year’s worth of study to “finish things off.” Alas it’s not quite that easy. I think because I hadn’t been in the education system for a long time, I have been awarded the transfer credits for half a degree, not two thirds. I therefore have to study one module at Level 2 (IE, the same level as the second year of a degree) and two modules at Level 3 (IE the same level as the third year of a degree).
In other words, having not studied for more than 20 years, I am leaping straight in and studying a module that an undergrad in their final year of university would be studying. It goes without saying your typical undergrad has had two years to get accustomed to how their university operates, what is expected of them and what they need to do to achieve the required grades. Most undergrads are also not balancing children and family commitments with their studies.
I’ve just bowled straight in at the highest level and while I am coping and enjoying it, loving it actually, it is hard. I have no choice but to dedicate every spare moment to my studies. The challenge has been finding the time to study.
It has been great to returning to study and learning new concepts and ideas. You are never too old to learn new things and studying this way at my age is brilliant because I feel like it is keeping me sharp.
The key to it, however, has been finding the time to read, plus research and write assignments. It’s not been easy, but from a personal development point of view, it’s sure proving to be worthwhile.