I did my university degree part-time

Amy didn't want to waste thousands of pounds leaving home to go to university. She tells The Mix about her decision to get a degree alongside part-time work.

True Stories

amy part-time degree

"There's no right or wrong way to 'do' university"

I’d only a month to go before I started my degree and I woke up panicked, with a sick feeling in my stomach. I just felt in my gut that I was making the wrong decision. I had a place at Manchester University secured, my student accommodation was all booked but it all felt… wrong. I found myself cancelling my place at Manchester and going full-time at my pub job. It wasn’t an easy decision, but at least it didn’t feel wrong.

Being left behind

All my friends left home and I was left to work. I was worried that there initially would be a vacuum, and that once their fresher’s photos started popping up that that I’d be overtaken with jealousy and regret. Fortunately, that never happened. The ‘university experience’ was never what appealed to me. I just wanted a degree I could be proud of, and to get one in a way that suited me.

Once I’d got used to earning money full-time and functioning on my own, I didn’t want to stop. Birkbeck University was initially my fifth choice, I just needed something to put on my UCAS form. But once I started thinking about what I wanted, it really started to appeal. Mainly as they offered a part-time degree option. So I contacted them and they accepted me as a part-time student to start the following September. During my year gap, I got myself a new proper start-of-the-career-ladder job, moved in to my own flat, and then started my English Literature and Theatre Studies BA a few months later.

Starting my degree part-time

Since starting Birkbeck, even though I’m commuting there and I’m part-time, I’ve made so many wonderful friends. It hasn’t held me back at all. I’ve also made loads of great friends during my job, so I’m far from the unsociable hermit lots of people assume I’d be. Working full-time does make you feel old though. Sometimes I feel like a 40-year-old trapped inside a 20-year-old’s body, but it’s nothing that a night on the dance floor or a city break with mates can’t fix.

Getting stressed

There are pretty stressful periods around exam time that make me want to run and hide. It really sucks having to sacrifice some of your precious 23 days annual leave for revision and exams. And sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re getting the train in pouring rain in November after a full day of work, fighting the crowds to get into central London. But when I have days when I feel like I can’t cope, I get a hot chocolate from the Arts department cafe, picture my graduation day and remind myself that nothing in life worth anything comes easily.

There’s no right or wrong way to ‘do’ university

I really recommend a part-time degree to anyone in two minds about how to ‘do’ university. I’m just starting my second year now and really know I’ve made the best choice for me. Part-time students are there because they really want to be there, so you meet great like-minded people. And you also save yourself thousands of pounds too! At the end of my four years, I’ll have a BA Hons degree, four years’ work experience under my belt, and some lifelong friends. Plus, I’ll finally get my evening and weekends back. What more can a girl ask for?

Next Steps




Updated on 29-Sep-2015