Studying while caring

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
It can be quite difficult to balance personal growth with the practicalities of caring. Studying while caring is not easy, but it is possible and enriching. It gives the carer a different focus and the opportunity to meet with and talk to new people. It also enables the carer to plan for the future.

During my time on the forum, I've responded to several people who have hit issues while studying and would like to offer five points to help others. I've been a university lecturer and I've also been a carer/part-time student. It took me 10 years to complete my studies, but I got there eventually!

My tips:
1. Don't put things off. If you have identified a course that you want to do and have the necessary qualifications, go for it. You will never find the time when everything is 'right'. Life happens!
2. Be aware of the workload and make others around you are aware of it too. Whatever course you do, you will need to read, think and write. You need space and time to do this. Not easy if you keep this to yourself. Tell your caree, family members and social services that it's leading you into new directions that will benefit not just you but everyone around you. Be sure to tell anyone who queries why you are studying that it's a job, not a hobby!
3. Tell some of your fellow students that you are a carer. It will open their eyes and they will be amazed at what you are doing but they will also be in a position to support you emotionally and practically during the course – from collecting handouts when you can’t get to a lecture, to accompanying you to see a tutor if you are feeling shaky.
5. Tell the institution that you are a carer. When you start your course, you should be given the name of a personal tutor and you will meet course tutors. Don't be embarrassed about your situation. Be up-front and keep the tutors in the loop if you are having problems keeping up with the workload, meeting deadlines or attending sessions.
Institutions have regulations and must adhere to these. But they also have a range of students and the regulations are designed to be supportive. The tutors know their way through the regulations and will advise you when to seek ‘extenuating circumstances’ and when to ‘interrupt’ so your grades don’t suffer and what evidence is needed for these claims. Universities also have counselling and support services that you are paying for from your fees and the Students’ Union that will offer other levels of support and guidance.

Good luck!
Juggler
x
Juggler wrote:It can be quite difficult to balance personal growth with the practicalities of caring. Studying while caring is not easy, but it is possible and enriching. It gives the carer a different focus and the opportunity to meet with and talk to new people. It also enables the carer to plan for the future.

During my time on the forum, I've responded to several people who have hit issues while studying and would like to offer five points to help others. I've been a university lecturer and I've also been a carer/part-time student. It took me 10 years to complete my studies, but I got there eventually!

My tips:
1. Don't put things off. If you have identified a course that you want to do and have the necessary qualifications, go for it. You will never find the time when everything is 'right'. Life happens!
2. Be aware of the workload and make others around you are aware of it too. Whatever course you do, you will need to read, think and write. You need space and time to do this. Not easy if you keep this to yourself. Tell your caree, family members and social services that it's leading you into new directions that will benefit not just you but everyone around you. Be sure to tell anyone who queries why you are studying that it's a job, not a hobby!
3. Tell some of your fellow students that you are a carer. It will open their eyes and they will be amazed at what you are doing but they will also be in a position to support you emotionally and practically during the course – from collecting handouts when you can’t get to a lecture, to accompanying you to see a tutor if you are feeling shaky.
5. Tell the institution that you are a carer. When you start your course, you should be given the name of a personal tutor and you will meet course tutors. Don't be embarrassed about your situation. Be up-front and keep the tutors in the loop if you are having problems keeping up with the workload, meeting deadlines or attending sessions.
Institutions have regulations and must adhere to these. But they also have a range of students and the regulations are designed to be supportive. The tutors know their way through the regulations and will advise you when to seek ‘extenuating circumstances’ and when to ‘interrupt’ so your grades don’t suffer and what evidence is needed for these claims. Universities also have counselling and support services that you are paying for from your fees and the Students’ Union that will offer other levels of support and guidance.

Good luck!
Juggler
x
That's great advice, Juggler, especially not putting things off. I'm a terrible procrastinator, always have been, I'm not entirely sure why! But waiting until the time is right does mean it might never happen so it does make sense to crack on if at all possible.

There was a lady I was at Uni with (many years ago) who had four kids, one of whom was severely disabled. She was just incredible, she was doing the course part-time, getting incredibly good grades and was always very well organised. I used to turn up on the wrong day with the wrong book and was forever pulling all nighters to get essays finished and handing them in with seconds to spare. I asked her how she managed to do so well when she had a family and a child with such acute needs to look after and she said, quite simply, she didn't have a single second spare so she simply had to be well organised and sit down and get on with things. She didn't have time to spend a month drafting an essay and then spend two weeks in the pub talking about it, she got odd hours here and there and she just had to get it done. She was absolutely amazing and, if I remember correctly, she got a First :) (I didn't! Lol ) :)
20 years ago, I studied for a part time Business Studies degree when M was about 10 years old. I'd realised that I wouldn't be able to care for him forever, and wanted to have a good qualification when I was free again. Fortunately, I already had some A levels, so already had the entry qualifications. It was hard work, and wonderful at the same time. Most of all, it gave me something to think about other than housework and M's problems. I remember doing one assignment at 3am! Most of the students were female, interestingly, most of us had a craft hobby, dressmaking, crochet, knitting, patchwork. My friend Alison and I were the only two with dishwashers at the beginning, everyone had a dishwasher at the end of the course. When you are looking at finding time to study, every minute counts. And you can wave goodbye to much of a social life!!
I really enjoyed the previous comments on this subject!

My question is, does anyone know of any PhD studentships or funding that is available to carers? I am a single parent of a disabled teenager, my career and studies have been interrupted but I am now doing a PhD at a top UK university. Turns out I'm quite good at this academic stuff, but when it comes to studentships (worth £16K plus £4K fees in London), I keep missing out to 'those with stellar academic records' who are half my age. This is never specified as the main criteria in AHRC-funded studentships, but when it comes down to it, the top universities just want the top grades (not the most creative, the fighters, the ones with the most determination!)

I am never going to be one of those straight A students. It feels like discrimination... I don't know what to do about it, but I won't accept that I can't find funding! If anyone has any suggestions or examples from their own universities, I would be grateful.
My problem is not knowing what I've ever wanted to do and now not knowing if I could even manage it anymore.
I got 9 O levels and 3 decent A levels, then did a 4 year professional day release course but I hated the job and was basically doing it because I felt it was expected of me. At the time you had to pass every subject all in one year to move on. I passed the first 3 years and by the 4th year my heart was absolutely not in it and knew I didn't want to be doing that for the rest of my life. I failed one of the 4 subjects in the final year so resat the next, then the second year I retook the 4th year and failed the 3 I had passed last year and passed the one I had failed so I never quite got the letters after my name.
Now, even if I could identify a course I wanted to do, I'm not sure my brain would cope. I have to write myself lists just to go shopping and reminders on the computer of all the things that need my attention. Dog has always come first, so even if and when I loose Dad I will still have house, garden, pets and social life to fit in-oh yes and that thing called work :lol: with no back up from anyone.
Hi everyone
I'm not very academic. Never encouraged by my parents ( long emotional story)
However, eventually I worked in a children's home and succeeded.Went to college and seemed to do well. They wanred me to study to be a social worker. Guess what,..., no confidence, hubby was studying for sergeants exam, DD 1 was studying for NNEB. DD 2 at school. Life was a bit crazy with shift work etc. I put them 1st. Was I right, will never know now. I haven't been a complete failure lol. My last job was doing police checks for the council. Loved it and did a good and worthwhile job even if I say it myself!!
If you have the inclination to study,go for it. Don't wonder in a few years whether you should have.
Henrietta wrote:My problem is not knowing what I've ever wanted to do and now not knowing if I could even manage it anymore.
I got 9 O levels and 3 decent A levels, then did a 4 year professional day release course but I hated the job and was basically doing it because I felt it was expected of me. At the time you had to pass every subject all in one year to move on. I passed the first 3 years and by the 4th year my heart was absolutely not in it and knew I didn't want to be doing that for the rest of my life. I failed one of the 4 subjects in the final year so resat the next, then the second year I retook the 4th year and failed the 3 I had passed last year and passed the one I had failed so I never quite got the letters after my name.
Now, even if I could identify a course I wanted to do, I'm not sure my brain would cope. I have to write myself lists just to go shopping and reminders on the computer of all the things that need my attention. Dog has always come first, so even if and when I loose Dad I will still have house, garden, pets and social life to fit in-oh yes and that thing called work :lol: with no back up from anyone.
Maybe have a look at something fun and practical, Henrietta, rather than something heavy going? Someone I know is doing a pottery course at the moment; she said she finds it incredibly relaxing, the other people in the class are lovely and she really likes 'doing' something without having to think too much. Or maybe go completely the opposite way and take up something like welding? ;)
Pet66 wrote:Hi everyone
I'm not very academic. Never encouraged by my parents ( long emotional story)
However, eventually I worked in a children's home and succeeded.Went to college and seemed to do well. They wanred me to study to be a social worker. Guess what,..., no confidence, hubby was studying for sergeants exam, DD 1 was studying for NNEB. DD 2 at school. Life was a bit crazy with shift work etc. I put them 1st. Was I right, will never know now. I haven't been a complete failure lol. My last job was doing police checks for the council. Loved it and did a good and worthwhile job even if I say it myself!!
If you have the inclination to study,go for it. Don't wonder in a few years whether you should have.
Pet, even thought I have loved college and Uni (all a long time ago now), I don't think academic qualifications necessarily mean someone's academic, if that makes any sense? I genuinely believe that the majority of people can do a huge amount more than they think, but a lot of us get our confidence knocked as kids and then life/family/paying the bills gets in the way and it doesn't always happen but I really feel most people can do something they probably think they can't! I have a friend who left school at 16 without qualifications and to this day he is still one of the most intelligent people I've ever met; he just had a bad start and didn't really get any support so it isn't a path he went down.

Maybe you could look at your local college and see if there's anything you fancy, just one evening a week or something? I did my A Levels as a mature student; everyone else on the course was in the same boat and the oldest student there was 72 :) She'd had virtually no formal education because in those days girls were expected to get married and keep house and her grown up kids paid for her first course as a sixtieth birthday present for her. She loved it and just kept doing more. I don't know what your situation is like at home and whether time/money/caring responsibilities would make it too difficult but I am going to keep my fingers crossed you might find a way :) x
Thanks Mumwhocares- food for thought. I've just deleted one of those regular daily junk emails that arrive saying what 7 things healthy people have in common and one of them was always learning new skills. Apart from starting my professional caring job a couple of years back and prior to that just office boring legislation and procedures etc I haven't learnt anything else in the last 5 years.
Henrietta
I bet you have!! Without even knowing.
I was trying to think what I have learned.
How to use my tablet
How to use my smartphone
How to use the self service at the supermarket ( don't like it really)
". ". " " ". ". " ". train station.
How to exercise patience with my husband's dementia
How to comfort other visitors in their despairing moment's
Not alot really but we all do learn as we go along.
My friend now belongs to the university of the 3rd age. Loves it.(history)
Am hoping I can move a bit further on from 'dementia' taking over my mind completely and do something constructive!