University studies are difficult.
When I first began studying externally I completely underestimated the time, effort and commitment required for success. I foolishly enrolled for four subjects in my first semester of University and completed exactly zero subjects.
Sue me, I was excited.
Whilst working full time – 12 hour days, living in a half renovated house and learning the ropes as a new parent with our first born child at the tender age of 5 months old, I bit off way more than I could chew in my decision to study. Once I understood the sheer workload involved in this undertaking, I immediately dropped 2 subjects. Then, just prior to the census date, I dropped another.
I struggled through half of the semester with one subject, but I was on the back foot. I was getting further and further behind and became extremely stressed as I struggled to understand the content. I was also too proud to seek the help I clearly needed.
Eventually, it all became too much for me and I decided to drop my one remaining subject after the census date and was slogged with a fail grade (and a substantial bill for my troubles).
Attempting to start with four subjects was a sure sign that my confidence was severely misplaced. But don’t worry, that confidence was beaten right out of me.
I had no intentions of studying that semester with the intention of letting life settle down a bit before I attempted to study again. Unfortunately, my lack of understanding about the enrolment system meant I had inadvertently enrolled myself in another subject so I was completely oblivious to the second fail grade my rogue enrolment was accumulating on my behalf as I went about my business. Epic fail.
My goal of completing study to improve my career prospects and cater for the needs of my family is completely reasonable, however at times it can be seemingly impossible to achieve. The implicit assumption with time is that we will have more of it in the future and everything will be easier. As if all of the things that currently consume our time will disappear and we will be left to achieve our ambitions in peace.
I have since realised there is rarely an ideal time for anything in life. The solution is simply to suck it up, manage your time as best you can and get shit done.
Get to Work
Since failing two subjects and the resultant crushing blow to my ego and my wallet, I have reevaluated the way I go about my studies and have now successfully completed 3 subjects. It hasn’t been without its challenges and the ever-present vibe of stress that lingers in my day-to-day life however my goal is now in reach.
Here are some practical tips for success in line with our new mantra as working parents and students:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew – you still need to fit in time with the family, work, exercise and some form of social life so make sure you choose your subjects accordingly. Reviewing the course content will help inform your decisions.
- Communicate with your better half – this is of utmost importance. Study will take some of your time and sacrifices will need to be made. Agree suitable times for study and everything else with your partner so the expectations are clear. Things will inevitably change but it is important that the time commitments are recognised. Your relationship will thank you for it.
- Plan your study time wisely – I have made the mistake of trying to study at the infamous ‘witching hour’ when the kids are most out of control. It doesn’t work for me or my wife. Avoid studying during this time at all cost!
- Make the most of your study time – this basically means avoid procrastinating. I am personally hopeless that this. For example, in the past I have chosen to make the most of my study time by starting my music production career or by conducting in-depth research into the many facets of rearing poultry. unfortunately this had nothing to do with the engineering content I was supposed to be studying. My tip for avoiding procrastination is to simply start. Commit to 5 minutes of study and generally you will find this is all that is required to continue on.
- Expect imperfection – although I believe it is always important to strive for the best, the reality is that this is not always practical. Don’t beat yourself up over it, just do the best you can with what you have and be proud of yourself for the hard work you are putting in. Always think back to the reason you decided to study and make that your driver rather than crushing every aspect of your studies. This will help to ease the pressure and allow greater focus and in turn, better results.
Please get in touch if you have a similar story to share or if you can provide some study tips. I’d love to hear from you.
Remember, Quintessential Dad is a community for sharing experiences and knowledge so we can become better blokes!