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Open University/working full time single mother

(24 Posts)
mrsgendry Tue 24-Oct-17 00:55:36

Hi all, was wondering if anyone else has been down this route/how successful it has been?
I'm looking at starting an open university course (art history) it's something I've always wanted to do for myself/ to help my intended career in galleries/museums. I did a level 3 diploma at college in art and got distinctions..but due to my circumstances and apathy, it never went any further. I still adore art, it's just my passion for creating it died with college.
After I left college, I was homeless, a couple of mental breakdowns, a child and a mini stroke - so education has not been a priority. I've held down simple office jobs but nothing of any significance, my current one has no progression whatsoever, I'm there because it's conveniently close to home and the team I work for are great.
I'm now 26 and feel ready to take that step, but it would have to to be something that can work around me. I've always gone back to it then never proceeded with it.
I've ordered a prospectus, I'm pretty sure what course would suit me, but I need to know how other working single mothers managed with it? I don't have family to help and my son only sees his father at weekends. My time with my son is already stretched - soon be stretched further as my office is moving - but I do get a few hours an evening and most of the weekend to myself.
Also, how do finances tend to work? I understand they do help out, but I'm minimum wage and live month to month as it is; how big is the financial impact?
Any experiences appreciated

titchy Tue 24-Oct-17 07:47:47

Brief response - yes the OU is absolutely designed for people like you so go for it. Secondly if you can wait till Sep 2019 do so - you'll be able to get a pro rata maintenance loan from then in addition to your fee loan.

RapunzelsRealMom Tue 24-Oct-17 07:54:53

I can't recommend the OU highly enough. I did my degree as a full time working mother of 3 - 2 of the years I was pregnant, then had a newborn. It wasn't easy but it wasn't so hard that it felt impossible. Some times were more difficult than others.

The support from tutors and fellow students is great (being honest, as in a brick uni, some tutors are better than others) plus the resources are wonderful.

You will never regret it!

FoofFighter Tue 24-Oct-17 15:33:48

Remember you can look into doing distance learning courses at proper brick colleges/universities as well. OU isn't the only option.

I'm in my first year of a ft degree and only actually need attend for 4 hours a week, the rest is self directed study for instance.

FoofFighter Tue 24-Oct-17 15:34:21

Remember you can look into doing distance learning courses at proper brick colleges/universities as well. OU isn't the only option.

I'm in my first year of a ft degree and only actually need attend for 4 hours a week, the rest is self directed study for instance.

FoofFighter Tue 24-Oct-17 15:34:51

sorry should have made clear that mine is not an online degree, just a "normal" one.

mrsgendry Tue 24-Oct-17 20:04:05

My problem is with Brick unis is that I don’t currently drive and I have little to no help with with my son. I’m a good hour and half at least from the nearest uni - I’m not ruling it out, it’s something i’ll look into - but I don’t want to invest myself into something I could miss out on if I needed to attend at any point.
I’ve got at least 7 months to weigh up options smile just need to decide what will work best

FoofFighter Wed 25-Oct-17 20:54:19

Point I’m making is that brick uni also offer totally online

mrsgendry Fri 27-Oct-17 20:54:47

Ohh, sorry - again, it’s something i’ll be looking into

grounddown Fri 27-Oct-17 21:02:54

I'm a single parent to 2 DC working almost full time and I'm in my 3rd year of an OU science degree. It's ace, can't recommend it enough. I completed 2 years of my degree at a brick uni and transferred credits to the OU when I found the pace too hard with young children.

You apply for student finance and it all gets sorted out with just a bit of form filling so no actual expense to yourself upfront (although it has to be repaid once you earn over a certain amount but is taken out at source blah blah blah)

My tutors have all been really supportive if I've needed extra time etc and I'm really glad I'm doing it this way as I wouldn't have been able to complete my degree otherwise and would have wasted all that time and effort.

Go for it!!

user1471134011 Sat 28-Oct-17 23:57:50

Remember you can look into doing distance learning courses at proper brick colleges/universities as well.

Foof OU is a 'proper' uni offering 'normal' degrees. Your bias towards other unis is misplaced. They have some world leading researchers there, especially in social sciences.

OP, the OU is very well set up to support people from non-traditional backgrounds. Given the complexities in your situation you would be a great fit for them.

KnitFastDieWarm Sun 29-Oct-17 00:05:37

I'm currently doing my masters in art history at the OU and it's most definitely a 'proper' department hmm - it's better in many respects than the well regarded brick uni I did my undergrad art history degree at.

OP I personally love the OU and have really enjoyed myself so far - as they are entirely distance based and open access, they're really good at supporting people returning to study or who are non-traditional students. My one caution would be that art history is very theory-heavy - it's NOT 'art appreciation', it's more about dissecting different approaches to art and the place of art in wider social and historical contexts. It's absolutely fascinating but it's definitely worth knowing what you're getting into!
Feel free to PM me if you want to know more, I'm passionate about the subject and am happy to advise smile x

rainbowduck Sun 29-Oct-17 00:54:34

I loved studying with the OU. Had all three of my kids whilst studying for a degree.
Yes, you have to just do bits whenever you can. It's hard work, but worth it.
Finances have changed since I started, so not sure who it works. But good luck to you!

rainbowduck Sun 29-Oct-17 00:56:36

And yes. OU is a 'proper' university, offering 'proper' degrees.

(It cannot however, teach tact to the feckless)

FoofFighter Sun 29-Oct-17 09:45:19

hmm I think we all know the point I was making, and it was not intended as an insult to the OU. Stop being so sensitive.

user1471134011 Sun 29-Oct-17 10:52:45

Stop being so offensive then.

SongforSal Sun 29-Oct-17 11:04:32

In fairness. This isn't a 'single parent' thing. I have a partner, work full time, and do 100% of the childcare, cooking (and other shit work!), plus I am an OU student currently studying my fourth module.

With any study, it is only you that can do it. Evenings and weekend are when I do mine, and it's very much worked around the kids. Obviously the EMA's and TMA's are very time consuming, so my advice is to keep at least 2-3 wks ahead of your timetable to account for eventualities such as the Dc's being ill, or you not getting work completed that week.

As for the money. I have a student loan, which is paid directly to my Uni. I'll pay it back monthly when I have graduated from my salary each month. Good luck!

ExcitementBubble Thu 21-Dec-17 10:09:16

I have just finished my OU degree, and have been working and bringing up children throughout. It truly sounds perfect for you, I did most of my studying once the kids were in bed, it was basically my hobby.
Don't underestimate the amount of work, though, it's not a soft option, I would definitely start with just one module. There are access courses that you may be eligible to take for free which will give you a good taster and hopefully boost your confidence too, but I'm not sure of the conditions for that.

MamaElle Fri 05-Jan-18 10:30:39

I am really worried about joining open university. I want to study law but I have an 8 month old baby (she will be nine months going on ten at the start of law degree in Feb) and I am scared that studying will take away from my time with her. However, I need to improve my skill set and am currently on benefits due to health issues and I'm hoping I will be able to work from home in future if health issues do not improve, which isn't likely as they are chronic (don't want to go into that here as they are not main focus or point I'm trying to make in this post). My point is, does studying hinder time spent with your baby/child? I need to study, for her sake, in ways she will not realise until older, like finances and opportunities but I don't want to hinder her time and emotional wellbeing, with me. How did or do any of you manage/juggle OU degree course with babies/young children? Any answers would be greatly appreciated. I'm new here and to this, so please go easy on me!

ExcitementBubble Fri 05-Jan-18 17:47:08

I honestly didn’t find it impacted on my kids at all for the first few years, I just studied when they were in bed.
When I was doing the final modules I really did have to put time aside to work, but perhaps she will be at school / playgroup by then.

Will you need to get work experience in order to work in law? Could that be difficult for you to manage with your circumstances?

I believe you can now get a certificate qualification after you finish level 1, why not aim for that first then see how you feel about carrying on, it might be easier to climb the mountain in small chunks if you see what I mean

MamaElle Fri 05-Jan-18 18:04:00

Hi excitement, thank you for answering. I'm really not worried about the working in law part at the moment, I have worked in the legal sector before and have experience in this field and I have aptitude for it, as I have been told in the past by my employers so that isn't really my worry at the moment. To give you an idea, I'm an older mum, late 30's and again, working in law isn't my worry, I don't finish the course for six years yet for a start! It's just currently, as my baby is young, I worry about reading time in the course cutting into time spent with her and the like but I guess you have said what I really was thinking myself which is that I will have to fit it into my schedule when baby is sleeping. I'm quite a hands-on person and I like to be involved with my baby and as she grows the thought of me being too busy or tired to get involved with her playful activities or to make time to do these things with her, like just playing and painting, for example, gives me panic-angst! I've read some comments on planning time on OU website and this has helped to allay my fears. I'm a single mum (don't know if I said that already) but I have good support in my immediate family which I'm thankful for. I guess I will have to utilise this, too. Law degree good for all sorts of employment BTW not just law sector but thank you very much for considering all I said, I'm really grateful.

MamaElle Fri 05-Jan-18 18:09:40

Just to add, excitement, I picked OU due to their experience and accommodating take on people with health conditions so I am not too worried about this aspect either, it's just the time and dedication being divided between my baby and studies but I will make sure that the sacrifice impacts my schedule rather than my baby's and in the long run this will benefit her...I think I'd like to be a good role model and having a can-do attitude should be good for her to witness and emulate (hopefully and fingers crossed) in the longterm. Thanks again, just having a chat and thinking about it as I talk has been helpful. It really is good to talk things over with someone else. Really grateful ExcitementBubble, thank you so much.

ExcitementBubble Sat 06-Jan-18 09:36:27

No problem I think you’re going to do brilliantly, you clearly have the drive to succeed.

As I said I think you will have enough time to study if you work around when baby sleeps, plus you are doing this for both of you so don’t feel guilty. A happy fulfilled mum with good employment prospects is just as beneficial to a child as spending lots of time with them.

Best of luck!

MamaElle Sat 06-Jan-18 10:45:39

Thank you Excitement, that's lovely of you, very encouraging. Your supportive comments have put me in a nice, upbeat frame of mind this morning, now that I have seen it as sitting down to have my coffee (which I am finally able to enjoy now that it has gone cold! 😄).
Sincerely appreciate you taking the time to answer.
Have a wonderful

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