Two years ago, I found myself in a position where both my children were at university, so I wasn’t needed as much at home. I had been a stay at home mother for over 20 years but felt I had more to give. So with the encouragement of my children I did an access to HE course in something that was close to my heart. As soon as I finished my course in the summer, I enrolled at Leeds Beckett University and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life.
My experience as a student parent
Studying at the same university as my kids has been such a benefit as we often travel to and from uni together which is fantastic as we get to catch up on our way home. With them already established at the university they have been helpful in showing me the ropes i.e. the library and knowing where the best hangouts are to work. Both of my children are based at the Headingley Campus, whereas I am based at city. This also has its benefits, as I have a reason to collect books from the library there which is sometimes more convenient and saves time.
What it's like being a mature student
Being a mature student and a parent does have its struggles. When I get home from university I still have all my motherly duties to do as well as my housework but surprisingly I have found a happy balance and some great ways to study while I work. Examples of these include listening to audio books whilst I iron, fitting in my emails whilst in the library and exchanging my night time reads to something more subject appropriate.
The other thing I found challenging was the financial side of things but with the help of student finance and the Leeds Beckett financing team I am able to manage a lot easier than I originally thought.
The one thing that has surprised me the most is how easy it was to fit in with the much younger students. I thought this was going to be so difficult, when in fact it hasn’t been an issue at all. I seem to have things in common with the students as my children are of the same age, so I know about the newest films and what the best TikToks are to watch.
My university family and future
My lecturers have made the university process smooth for me. If I am unsure of anything, they are more than happy to take time out to help me. The university has so many people who are willing to help and support you. It’s like one big, happy, extended family.
My days are long and sometimes difficult but managing my time wisely I am able to keep up with all my studying whilst keeping a tidy home with the added bonus of a new and exciting social life, with my new ‘uni-family’.
Since I started in September my confidence has grown. I felt quite isolated before uni and now I feel a part of a group who are all working towards a very similar goal. I would like to go on to do a Masters after this course so that I am able to become a counsellor to young people. With the foundations of what I am learning at the moment with the added bonus of the masters, my dreams can finally become my reality.
To any mature student or parent with children who is thinking of returning to education, I would say take a leap of faith. You won’t regret it. It gives you the ability to take charge of your own destiny.