Posted by Tracy
on May 15, 2014 in Education
| 0 comments
Fitting in a full-time degree course when you are young is far simpler: the chances are you won’t have many, if any, commitments and you can throw yourself in whole-heartedly to a new venture.
For anyone interested in completing a degree course slightly later, the options can be rather more complicated. Whether it’s being able to cover financial outgoings or the dilemma of whether to give up your current career, there may be many compromises to make either way.
Unless of course you opt for a part-time degree course.
Providing you with exactly the same qualification upon completion, part-time degree courses are specifically designed for individuals who are unable to attend on a full-time basis but still want to strive to reach their full potential.
A degree will help you advance in your career.
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We take a closer look at part-time degrees and what you can expect if you choose to study for one.
How a part-time degree works
There are a few very select types of degree (often in the medical profession) which require the course to be completed on a full-time basis. However, these are few and far between.
The vast majority of courses are suitable for studying on a part-time basis; you simply need to find a university who offers the degree you want.
Don’t fear that you may be the odd one out at a university if you are only studying on a part-time basis; most universities will have thousands of students who aren’t there on a full-time basis. And there are lots of reasons for this, including younger students who simply want to find a more economical way to get a degree or who wanted a more versatile way of studying! Of course part-time degrees are perfect for those with outside commitments such as a young family, or who want to carry on working alongside.
Undertaking any kind of degree course requires commitment and dedication, and part-time study is no different. However you can usually choose how long you want to spread your degree course out for; the typical lengths vary from four to six years.
There may well be a minimum number of hours which you need to be able to study for in order to sign up for the course, but this should be manageable alongside your other commitments.
A part-time degree is not any less of a commitment and is just the same as a full-time course, but spread out over a longer period.
Outgoings and expenditure may well be two of the reasons that you have opted for a part-time study course rather than jumping in with both feet.
By opting to study part-time, you should be able to continue in your existing job too, earning money rather than having to exist solely on a grant.
The certificate can help you a lot.
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Tuition fees apply to part-time students too but you will be eligible to apply for a grant to cover this, in exactly the same way as a full-time student. Even if you have the money to pay for fees upfront, you may find it better in the long run to wait and see how you manage. There are no penalties for paying off your student loan early so if you decide later on that you want to clear your debts, you won’t lose out.
You will be eligible to apply for a student loan providing that the number of hours you are working is at least 25% of the full-time equivalent.
However, it’s worth considering the way in which student loans are repaid. You won’t start repaying your borrowing until you reach a certain threshold of earnings (currently £21000) and even then, you will only have to contribute 9% in excess of this amount.
A degree will further your learning.
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Whatever you haven’t repaid 30 years after you finish studying is wiped off and the debt is never entered on your credit file.
An alternative to taking out a student loan for the tuition fees is asking your employer to cover the costs. This may be an unusual request but if you can demonstrate to your employer how the course would benefit the company, you might find they are more willing. If you can link any aspect of the course more directly to the job, you stand a better chance.
Being a part-time student doesn’t mean you lose out on facilities and services: although you may be part-time you have the same rights of access as your full-time peers.
This includes student services and career advice as well as other facilities including the library and sporting amenities too.
If the course you are doing requires physical equipment such as cooking and hygiene, you will also have full access to all the items you need to help you complete your studies.
Gone are the days where you wrote out each piece of coursework laboriously by hand: it will be essential for you to have either a laptop or tablet device so that you can access the internet. In the vast majority of universities, having access to those kinds of facilities is an essential, not simply a nice-to-have.
A part time degree can help suit your schedule.
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You may have planned out time in your calendar to attend the course lectures, but it’s just as important that you set aside some time to do the coursework or carry out some revision. A degree course will only be as effective as the time you invest into it and with a busy lifestyle; this can be easy to do.
You should therefore consider sitting down and scheduling in exactly when you are going to have some free time to study and where you will do it to escape any distractions.
Modern courses include more traditional lectures and classroom type work with online learning modules. This means you will not only benefit from different methods of teaching, but that you can enjoy a more interactive experience, allowing you to tailor your learning to what you need.
However, as a rough rule of thumb, you should expect to spend around 18hours per week on studying. This could be significantly more during the period shortly before you take any examinations.
One of the best things about studying part-time is that it gives you a great degree of flexibility.
With intakes at several different points during the year, it’s possible to be far more fluid about your arrangements. Your chosen university may also offer some options to get around the difficulties of managing your time. For example, classes may be held for one evening a week or periodically at weekends to ensure the demands on your daytime routine are kept to a minimum.
You should be aware though that many courses will be run during the day and you might need to check with your employer that you can be released to attend.
Some universities permit individuals to take a short break, or even vary the length of time spent learning each year so if you need to take a while off, it shouldn’t impact on your plans in the long term.
The impact on other areas
If you are studying for a part-time degree you will probably be also working, either in the profession that you had before or a new job which fits in with your academic demands. You may be working in a field which is directly related to the subject you are studying or it may be vastly different.
The benefits if you are working in a related area are manifold and obvious. Whilst you may not feel the full effect until you obtain your degree and finish your learning, you and your employer will still see some advantages along the way.
For example, customers will appreciate a member of staff who is not just experienced but knowledgeable about the more technical aspects too. This could help boost a company’s reputation and enhance the customer service that is provided.
Why not start a degree in September?
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But it isn’t just companies working in a related field which can benefit. Even if the degree which you are studying isn’t related to your job, there should still be some tangible differences.
Studying for a degree can instil a sense of self-confidence which extends into all areas, and this will arise as a result of managing your time; being efficient with the use of time will become an essential skill to have. Confidence and excellent time-management can only mean one thing: a more productive employee without any compromises on quality.
There are lots of different reasons why you might have opted to study on a part-time basis but whether these included benefitting your current employer, there’s no denying that some of the most positive skills you will develop will have a big impact on your professional life.
Time management will become absolutely vital with different demands on your time. If you don’t get this right, you will feel slightly harassed and may struggle occasionally to balance the different tasks. On the flip side, if your time management skills are honed to perfection, you will be able to multi-task far more effectively both in your personal life as well as at work!
Image credits: Andyschanelle, Michael Leza, N A I T, 38 Degrees and Jordanhill School
Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.