Written by Michelle Curry
Being a parent does not rule out being able to study at university.
I’m a Bathurst local, wife and mum of two girls, and a cheeky pug called Ollie. I am studying a Bachelor of Education K-12 of which I took up in 2021 at the age of 36. Now in my 2nd year of full-time studies, my degree has me doing a mixture of on-campus, and online studies.
Here are my top 5 tips for studying as a mature-age student and mother of two and useful for those needing some time-saving ideas:
1. A game changer: using my Chromecast
During COVID lockdown, I purchased a Chromecast so I could do my gym workouts on the TV instead of my laptop. It allowed me to see the instructor better. I was also having a bad run of migraines from spending too many late nights on my laptop screen. I had a lightbulb moment of using the Chromecast to watch lectures on the TV.
Gone are the days of sitting in a lecture theatre for classes. With technology you can study anywhere. By using my Chromecast, I connect my laptop to the television and can watch lectures, join in Zoom classes while making school lunches, washing dishes, or making dinner. This has been a game-changer in how I have studied at university. I came across this when I needed a change from studying at the kitchen table during COVID and home online learning for my daughters. Sometimes after a long day, I may rewatch a lecture on the big screen, sitting on my comfortable lounge, reclined with a hot cup of tea giving my eyes a rest from my computer screen.
2. Preparation is key
Grab a free wall planner from the Online SRC. This has all my assessment dates, adding in any important dates or special events. Mine is located on the back of my study door and is extremely useful when I am on the phone.
3. Discover what study style works for you
I am a paper person so I prefer having my textbooks in hard copy. But for those who go digital textbooks download them to your tablet so you catch up on readings in between classes, waiting at school pick up, or after school activities.
4. Prioritise healthy fuel
In breaks, I also do a lot of bulk cook-ups, making meals for nights when I’m busy. Having a freezer full of nutritious meals for the family, frozen muffins for the lunchbox, or taking in my bag to university. Google slow cooker meals to help speed up the time in the afternoon/evenings.
Chicken and vegetable fried rice is always a hit with the family. I often use any leftover vegetables we have lying in the fridge, grabbing a bbq chicken from the supermarket, and the leftover chicken can be used for lunches. This recipe freezes well. You should try it out!
5. Use Charles Sturt support services
Studying at university as a parent or mature age student, does not mean studying alone. Knowing that there is a lot of support out there if you need help. We have wonderful counsellors available, the Academic Skills team, and Studiosity available to all students if you need someone to check over an assessment before handing it in. Keep in contact with your lecturers and your course coordinator if you need to change subjects or get an extension on an assessment. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support!
Studying as a parent does not have to be impossible. Don’t forget to look after yourself, take time out when needed as you can’t look after your little people if you burn out. Having some fun activities booked in during your time at university gives you something to look forward to and a break from study. One day you will look back on your time at university and will be proud you did not give up. So, keep on going, ask for help when you need to. You got this!