Though the number of students choosing part-time study has taken a nosedive since the fees hike of 2012, today's part-timers still account for almost one third of the UK university intake. With the haven of reduced contact hours, less week-to-week assessments and (supposedly) less pressure, studying part-time seems to be an ideal option for those among us who want to learn yet lead busy lives. Unfortunately, opting for a part-time course isn't quite the bed of roses we would hope it to be. Of course we all know that anything worth doing is never going to be easy, but the perils of part-time study can be tough for even the most eager and well prepared among us.
So here it is: Ten things you need to know if you're thinking of studying Part-Time:
1: Time is of the essence
You may think that dedicating half the time to half of the workload will get you the same end result as if you were studying full time, but you'd be mistaken. That's because as a part-timer you're going to have other things begging for your attention. We might not need as much time as our full- time counterparts but if you work shifts, have dependants or simply have other things going on, the possibility of uninterrupted study for an extended period of time is almost impossible. Even if you allocate enough hours in the day for study, the order that they fall are out of your hands if you have demanding jobs or a little one at your feet. Continuously stopping and starting a project is hard. It takes time to refresh your memory and work out where you're up to and this ultimately adds to your workload.
2: You will study in strange places and at strange times
At the bus stop, in the gym changing room, at the school gates, on the toilet, after your night shift at 5am... basically wherever you can catch 15 minutes of peace. Tomorrow's reading on Political Philosophy isn't going to read itself, after all.
3: Money on your mind
With little or no student loan available and the same bills to pay as everyone else, pennies need to be pinched during this time of austerity. On top of the usual you'll have books and equipment to buy, trains to commute on and possibly childcare to pay for too.
4: Prevailing commitments means learning sometimes comes in second place
There is nothing wrong in putting things like your family, health or career before your course. If this is the case though, be prepared for the fact that you may get lower marks than you were hoping for.
5: You'll miss out on extra-curricular activities
I don't just mean that you might miss those weekly yoga classes at the Student Union. The amount of events you can't make that are related to your course can add up. Having to skip conferences, debates and discussion groups can mean missed opportunities for extra enrichment and CV filling.
6: You'll feel disconnected from your department
If you don't have the time to get involved with the extra activities relating to your course, you won't get to know your peers and lecturers as well as the full-timers. This will mean that you'll miss out on precious networking opportunities that could help advance your career.
7: Goodbye social life.
So you may have not decided to study to make friends, but I bet you didn't bank on loosing the friends you do have. Okay that may be a bit of an overstatement, but some friends are more understanding than others. At the very least you can kiss goodbye to painting the town red every Saturday night.
8: Time off? What time off?
The wonderful long summer breaks will be crammed with as many extra shifts at work as you can squeeze in so you can afford to live for the rest of the year. Mauritius, Ayia Napa, or Scarborough will just have to wait until next time.
9: At times you may have as much work as a full-timer anyway
If the modules that interest you are taught on the same semester, you will be lumped with the same amount of work as full-time student during that time. You're left with an ultimatum: Follow your heart and study the modules that you're passionate about, or follow your head and spread the workload by taking a not-so-thrilling module in semester two instead.
10: It will all be worth it in the end.
Clichéd? Maybe. True? Absolutely. With all of the trouble and strife that we part-timers have to put up with, it doesn't mean that we should give up on our commitment to learning. Weather you study for the chance of that dream job, or simply because you love to learn, chances are that you'll look back on your time as a part-time student with a sense of achievement and pride. Just make sure that you're prepared for the rough times as well as the smooth.