Case Study- Sarah Jones

Balancing being a student and a parent is a challenge to say the least, but for Sarah Jones the decision to raise her baby and to continue studying was a no-brainer.  Over a much needed coffee break Sarah told me why she took on the challenge and would never look back.Sarah overcame a huge challenge but she loved every minute

Sarah conquered a very big challenge and she doesn’t regret the journey for a minute

Sarah, what are you studying?

I am doing a degree in Chemistry at Nottingham Trent University. I am currently in my third year but I am considering staying on to do a masters or possibly a PHD.

When did you fall pregnant?

I became pregnant on my gap year. I had my baby Lucas in the June before I started my degree in September. So I started Uni as a mum.

Did you ever contemplate putting off starting your degree?

No, not even for a moment. I knew I was going to go to Uni in Nottingham. I grew up just outside Nottingham so most of my family live in the area so I knew I would have people I could turn to if I needed support. I just never for a moment thought it would be a problem. I am very determined.

Was it difficult moving into University accommodation with a baby?

Well actually I moved into halls without Lucas. I was very lucky. My mum agreed to have Lucas on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights then after lectures on Thursday I would come home and look after him from Thursday to Monday morning. This was so I could concentrate on lectures and  as Lucas was so young he could live in a safe, family environment. I think my mum was happy to do this. She secretly loved it and it was very good for me too.

Did you find it difficult living 2 separate lives?

It was very confusing at first. For part of the week I was a normal first year. Going to lectures, meeting new friends, going out (though not a lot) and then by Thursday evening I was back to being a mummy which was even more exciting than being a first year. It was difficult to get used to and it did start to take it’s toll by the end of the year. I started to feel very guilty that I was missing so much. Then when he started to crawl and then walk I knew I couldn’t face being away for those 3 nights so that’s why in my second year I decided to move home and commute into Uni.

Now you’re coming to the end of your third year would you have done anything differently?

No, but then I was very lucky to have a strong family support network very close by. I couldn’t have got through the year without them. I think it was important that I lived in hall in my first year as this allowed me to have a little bit of a normal student life if only for a few days of the week. This helped me to concentrate, make friends and get my head around doing a degree. However, I am very glad I moved back home in 2nd year. This allowed me to be a proper mummy to Lucas. Doing a degree is hard and the hours I have to put in are long but there are many mums that work full time and are out at work for the same if not more time than I am at Uni. If I wasn’t at Uni I would have to be at work anyway so I don’t really see the difference. All I am doing is working hard to make our life better in the long run.

If you could give advice to other student parents or parents who are unsure whether to continue studying what would they be?

SARAH’S TOP TIP’S TO BEING A STUDENT PARENT

  1. Try to stay as close to your support network as possible, this helps so much.
  2. Try to get involved in as many student activities as you can fit in, you are a student and it is important to get as much out of Uni as possible
  3. Don’t feel guilty. Your child loves you and you are a good parent. Doing a degree will only make your life better in the long run so it is beneficial to your child too.
  4. Make the most of life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
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