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F/t Masters, feeling overwhelmed and despondent

(13 Posts)
likelytoasksillyquestions Sun 17-Nov-13 06:20:35

I'm 6 weeks into my MSc. The course is really good, it's pretty much exactly what I hoped it would be. But I feel like it's all going to shit. sad

I am a single parent to a toddler. DS has had some time off nursery due to illness (think a total of 7 or so days in the last 6 weeks) so I've had to miss classes those days. Once a week I have a class which finishes too late for me to collect him from nursery - my mum v kindly agreed she would collect him when possible on that day, but as it stands I've only been able to attend it twice so far. sad The module was elective and is not at all easy - if I'd known I'd miss so much, I don't think I'd have taken it.

As long as everything is OK, I feel that I'm just about keeping my head above water, but as soon as something goes wrong I lose a lot of study time and it's almost impossible to get back. DS is still a crap sleeper so at best I get two hours to study in the evening.

I don't know what to do. I seem to be temporarily without a personal tutor and I don't really know anyone in the department to speak to - I am the kind of student who keeps quiet and tries to hide in corners. grin I'm also not sure how supportive to expect the department or the uni to be of parent issues, anyway. And I don't think there are any solutions, so don't see what the point of raising this would be.

I don't know what the point of starting this thread is, either. Advice, experiences? Is this normal? Should I jack it in before wasting any more time? sad

likelytoasksillyquestions Sun 17-Nov-13 06:22:59

Oh - and I can't switch to part-time. I'm on a scholarship conditional on f/t study - and I can't afford to do this without the scholarship, it's what pays DS's nursery fees.

hoboken Sun 17-Nov-13 06:52:05

Presumably you have no other family or friends who could help. Can you find another nursery or a child minder with more flexible hours?

Does the university have courses for teachers where you might find a student to help? Is there a local college which has courses for nursery assistants?

Would any of the assistants at your son's nursery help as a private arrangement?

I guess deferring is not possible and realise there is also finance to consider. Don't know if there is enough of a difference between nursery and CM costs to mean that you could afford longer hours with a CM.

Try the Student Room website - there may be a thread or forums for student parents.

Sorry OP, no suggestions that you probably haven't already considered. An observation (not a criticism, which you can clearly do without) but trying to either work or be in education with a small child around can create more problems than it eventually solves).

Hope you can get resolve this and, if so, good luck with the MSc

likelytoasksillyquestions Sun 17-Nov-13 18:52:18

Thanks hoboken for such a thoughtful reply. No, I don't think there is anyone else who could help - the only people I could think of are just too far away to do it. And it's such a short notice problem really - I've only got four more weeks where it's an issue, I think. Which is obviously still a massive deal, it's the remainder of the module, but it's too small a timescale to sort out much. I think my mum is going to be able to do 2 of those 4.
I suppose it couldn't hurt to ask around at nursery to see if anyone could do it. I definitely don't want to change his childcare arrangements - am completely delighted with the nursery, after a v brief experience with another one neither of us liked at all.

I will have a look on TSR, that hadn't occurred to me. Thanks.

I really hate having to rely on other people. It's an aspect of parenting I wasn't at all prepared for. I feel really hurt and let down, which is irrational and unreasonable and compounding how hopeless I feel about the degree itself. I also feel v pathetic for not having any alternatives.

Salbertina Mon 18-Nov-13 07:46:43

Speaking as someone who had to express milk in grotty disabled loo during my masters angry, expect no help! Not like undergrad, many masters have zero real pastoral care. You're on your own! It will get easier once you get used to it. Keep going, hectic but much easier now than fitting round school hours.
Good luck!

Chrysanthemum5 Mon 18-Nov-13 14:06:27

Firstly, well done on keeping going with your studies. A ft masters is incredibly challenging in terms of time commitment.

I work in this area, and my advice to you would be to talk to your department. Do you have a graduate school/pg office? Make an appointment with them, and ask for support. For example can you have a meeting with the lecturer on the relevant course to go over some of the things you've missed.

Do you have an online learning platform where all the lecture notes/slides are kept? If so then go over these, and identify any areas you are struggling with.

Talk to your personal tutor, and ask for help with catching up.

You gain nothing by bring the quiet student who doesn't ask for help! If you like pm me and I will see if there are any resources on effective studying that I can send you.

likelytoasksillyquestions Wed 20-Nov-13 20:01:25

Thank you both, and sorry I'm replying a while later - have not really had time to sit, read and think. Two quite different replies which I guess go to show how much variation there must be between unis and departments... Salbertina, that is very grim! Yes, what you say about it fitting in better now than once he's at school is v v true.

Chrysanthemum, thanks, that's all v useful. I will make myself go and speak to someone. Annoyingly, the module I am especially behind with doesn't have any slides or anything - he just talks - so I am going to have to work off the reading list to find where my areas of difficulty are, and then go and see him. Frustratingly, his office hours clash with another lecture I really can't afford to miss, but I will find a way of sorting it.

Talking has helped a lot. Thank you.

MinesAPintOfTea Wed 20-Nov-13 20:17:13

Don't worry about exactly when his office hours are: email and tell him that you are sorry for unavoidably missing his lectures, you've read his reading list and can you please have a discussion to check what you've missed. Unfortunately you have a lecture at office time x, is he available at time y please.

They well be sympathetic if you are polite, even if most of the time they sympathetically do nothing.

And you have my sympathies. I struggled with my ft masters with dh taking a lot of the childcare slack for me, can't imagine how hard it must be as a single parent.

Chrysanthemum5 Thu 21-Nov-13 11:50:23

Pint of tea is correct, be polite (but assertive) and you will get further. Make an appointment to talk to the lecturer to ask him to go over the main points in summary with you. Ask as well for the top two items of the reading list that he would recommend - and read those thoroughly. If he can't see you, ask if he would mind emailing you with a basic summary of the points he will cover. You're not asking for a detailed recap, just a summary.

likelytoasksillyquestions Fri 22-Nov-13 05:16:41

Thank you both! The reassurance really really helps. This thread has been really useful. flowers

tanyatwo Tue 26-Nov-13 17:36:29

Hi Liketoasksillyquestions

I am a full time MSC student with a 3 year old. I’m studying Occupational Therapy and am in my final year. Like you, I am also a lone parent and I understand that feeling of being overwhelmed. I was through my whole first year and still am (just a little). I’m on my 3rd practice placement and have had to take a week off due to mine and my child’s viruses. Today I had to leave early and take my child to hospital, because the nursery called to say she was ill. She’s ok. Just the same lingering virus. It’s not the first time I’ve had to take a lot of time off.

All I can say is hang in there. I had pneumonia in my first year and failed my first essay because of it, (and also because I didn’t know what critical analysis was). I also missed a lot of classes. I would say definitely invest in a Dictaphone and record lectures. My Uni said we weren’t allowed to use them, unless we were dyslexic. I used one anyway and not one lecturer complained, but I did turn out to be dyslexic in the end. I’m of extremely average intelligence (a C grade student). I’m scatty and disorganised. I’ve struggled, but I’m still here and have past everything else.

Find other students with a Dictaphones and when you can’t attend get them to record the lecture and put it on a cd for you. I’ve had to do this 3 times and it means you don’t miss the vital lectures. Some of your lectures may be online anyway. It’s not a disaster if you miss sessions with your class.

You’re not alone so please don’t defer. It will all be worth it and the time is going to fly by in a blink. I’ve struggled at times, cried at times, but I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed this experience and can’t wait to be a practicing OT and to give my child everything she needs. I’m new to mumsnet, but message me if you need any moral support and if you’re confused about critical analysis, get Stella Cottrell’s ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ and do the exercises. It’s a great book.


tanyatwo Tue 26-Nov-13 23:03:47

By the way, as a lone parent (or any parent), you are bound to feel some parental guilt throughout your course, especially when your child wants attention, but you're shattered and your mind is on course work and presentations. I feel it often. So you have that to look forward to as well smile.

likelytoasksillyquestions Tue 03-Dec-13 11:47:39

tanyatwo - thanks loads for your posts, which I've somehow only just seen. It is reassuring to think that you have faced similar issues but are keeping going and getting more comfortable.
I have had a bit of a move forward in the last week or two and am starting to feel much more - well, not quite keeping up, but not floundering quite as much as I was before either. Which is v nice. There is still definitely no margin for error - another few days missed due to illness and I'll be in utter panic again I'm sure - but for now my head is just about above water and I'm making the most of it. smile

Thanks again.

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