The Student Room Group
Student at the Open University
Open University
Milton Keynes

Work and uni balance

I'm 21 and currently work full time, I'm looking at going to uni in September possibly through open university. Now my question is being as I'm looking at OU would I be able to work a full time job to cover my living expenses like rent and bills as well as study full time or would I have to do part time study? My thinking is if lectures are all delivered online would I not be able to to watch a recording of them when I finish work in the afternoon and then continue with the uni work outside of work hours? My outgoings are quite high and if have to work more than what the average part time job hrs are if I studied part time as the maintenance loan is quite low? Any and all advice is appreciated TIA.
Reply 1
My advice for you is “do not let anything disturb your study” so you won’t end up regretting. When you graduate you’ll have more than the money you’re looking for now. Goodluck xx
Student at the Open University
Open University
Milton Keynes
Original post by Cait1003
I'm 21 and currently work full time, I'm looking at going to uni in September possibly through open university. Now my question is being as I'm looking at OU would I be able to work a full time job to cover my living expenses like rent and bills as well as study full time or would I have to do part time study? My thinking is if lectures are all delivered online would I not be able to to watch a recording of them when I finish work in the afternoon and then continue with the uni work outside of work hours? My outgoings are quite high and if have to work more than what the average part time job hrs are if I studied part time as the maintenance loan is quite low? Any and all advice is appreciated TIA.

There are many OU students who work and study full time. It is a lot to take on, though.

Tutorials are normally held in the evenings, although there will sometimes be daytime ones too for students who prefer it. They also record enough of them that you would be able to view a recording of pretty much all the topics covered.

The important thing is to be super disciplined and don't kid yourself about the amount of work you will be taking on. The stage 1 modules are easy, and so it is much easier to juggle your time with them, given that you won't need to spend as much time on them. However, the difficulty ramps up at stage 2. Even moreso at stage 3. That is when you may find yourself needing to decide how much you can reasonably manage. Then again, by that point, you are also used to the workload! Been there, done that.

Also, be aware that student support does actively try to discourage new students from studying at full time pace. If you really want to do it this way, you will need to get past the gatekeepers. They mean well. They know how many students don't make it because it is just too much for them. All the more reason to go in with your eyes wide open.
Original post by Cait1003
I'm 21 and currently work full time, I'm looking at going to uni in September possibly through open university. Now my question is being as I'm looking at OU would I be able to work a full time job to cover my living expenses like rent and bills as well as study full time or would I have to do part time study? My thinking is if lectures are all delivered online would I not be able to to watch a recording of them when I finish work in the afternoon and then continue with the uni work outside of work hours? My outgoings are quite high and if have to work more than what the average part time job hrs are if I studied part time as the maintenance loan is quite low? Any and all advice is appreciated TIA.

Full time can be as many a 4 modules (assuming 4 x 30 credits for 120 credits / year) at the same time. A lot of assignments and assessments will overlap and you will have to divide your time very efficiently.

You could make this work. It would be an awful experience however. As it is now I find that I am doing 40 hour work weeks with an additional >20 hours of OU work for 2 modules - essentially a 2nd jobs worth of hours.

Personally I am okay with these hours and haven't found myself struggling - but I am making sure to stay ahead of the work incase something unforseen happens - I then have a bit more leeway with my time before I start to fall behind.

There is another case of depending on which course you are doing - some of the modules you cannot start at the same time - so you have to finish one as a prerequisite or you need to be studying one for so many days before the other, etc.

The OU really is just a test of willpower of forcing yourself to do the work - its all on you and no one will tell you to get on with it.

I think that taking it slow is the best approach - though a lot of the first stage modules are quite easy so you might be able to do them full time. Second stage is where it gets quite hard - and as such you may want to take your time with it.

First stage modules also do not count towards your final grade - where as second stage does and third stage is weighted more.
(edited 3 months ago)
Original post by Cait1003
I'm 21 and currently work full time, I'm looking at going to uni in September possibly through open university. Now my question is being as I'm looking at OU would I be able to work a full time job to cover my living expenses like rent and bills as well as study full time or would I have to do part time study? My thinking is if lectures are all delivered online would I not be able to to watch a recording of them when I finish work in the afternoon and then continue with the uni work outside of work hours? My outgoings are quite high and if have to work more than what the average part time job hrs are if I studied part time as the maintenance loan is quite low? Any and all advice is appreciated TIA.

The OU doesn't have lectures (per se anyway - at least not in the modules I did). You get sent all the module materials and a lot of information and guided outlines on the moodle page on how to work through it. But it's basically just up to you as the student to work through the material and then do the assignments by the deadlines. There are tutorials you can sign up for (online or previously were available in person in some places - I don't know if in person ones have come back though) about once a month per module, but these are technically optional.

It is theoretically possible to work full time while doing a part-time OU course (i.e. less than 120 credits - I would recommend starting with 30 credits if possible and then "building up" from there as you see how well you manage it) as you can just fit in all your studying on the days you aren't working and evenings (or other times you aren't working if working shifts). However this will obviously be at the expense of whatever you normally do during that time (and you'll have a lot less personal time, which is still important to maintain some semblance of for sanity's sake!). So depending on your other commitments (e.g. if you have family/caring commitments/other work beyond your full time job) or needs (if you know you need more time for yourself to "decompress" from your work to maintain your mental health for example) that may or may not be possible in practice.

Note also you can't get a maintenance loan with the OU normally - the only way to get a maintenance loan while studying at the OU is if you have a disability which can't be supported by any universities in your region (and you need to have documented evidence of this from those universities). In practice few are able to demonstrate this and receive a maintenance loan while at the OU.
Original post by Cait1003
I'm 21 and currently work full time, I'm looking at going to uni in September possibly through open university. Now my question is being as I'm looking at OU would I be able to work a full time job to cover my living expenses like rent and bills as well as study full time or would I have to do part time study? My thinking is if lectures are all delivered online would I not be able to to watch a recording of them when I finish work in the afternoon and then continue with the uni work outside of work hours? My outgoings are quite high and if have to work more than what the average part time job hrs are if I studied part time as the maintenance loan is quite low? Any and all advice is appreciated TIA.

I am attending the open university part time, I also work full time, I think doing full time study and full time work is gong to be a real struggle, In a part time course we are expected to do 18-20 hours of independent study a week this is on top of tutorials and assignments, a full time course will require more and there just aren't enough hours to work and study both full time if you also want to eat, socialise and sleep. If you have high stress job you are gong to want to time to wind down as well. It would kill me having to come home from work and go straight into studying without a couple of hours down time in between. I am going in to the February intake as the busiest time for my job is Christmas so I will be on break between September and February without having to worry about doing assignments when work is at is at peak. On the subject of loans, I did not get a maintenance loan, due to being distance learning most OU students are living in their own homes so a maintenance loan that a regular student would use for rent, food, study materials etc, while studying away from home is not really appropriate. I did however get a tuition fee loan, I did not see a penny of this it was paid directly to the OU.
(edited 3 months ago)
Original post by Cait1003
I'm 21 and currently work full time, I'm looking at going to uni in September possibly through open university. Now my question is being as I'm looking at OU would I be able to work a full time job to cover my living expenses like rent and bills as well as study full time or would I have to do part time study? My thinking is if lectures are all delivered online would I not be able to to watch a recording of them when I finish work in the afternoon and then continue with the uni work outside of work hours? My outgoings are quite high and if have to work more than what the average part time job hrs are if I studied part time as the maintenance loan is quite low? Any and all advice is appreciated TIA.
Hello @Cait1003,

It's great to see that you're planning ahead to help you balance your different commitments!

We have a blog post dedicated to providing full-time professionals with strategies to balance full-time work and study - https://bit.ly/3PgRZ9z. We offer a range of flexible online degree courses and these are the tips we typically share with our students, I think they will help you to prepare for your degree and decide on your next steps.

I hope that this helps and good luck!

Thanks,

Becky

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