Sophie

What's your top tip for other student parents?

Try to get in touch with a good advice centre (which are sadly few and far between) to find out exactly what you're entitled to. Also, the obvious about keeping on top of the work, and not leaving it till the last minute. Even if you do then if it's an exam, just go to sleep, because a night of sleep will set you up for it better than a sleepless night of cramming ever could.

Why did you choose to go to university?

I'd started my undergrad degree and wanted to finish it - partly just because I'd started it but also because I really enjoyed the subject. I guess I've chosen to go back to improve my job prospects.

What are the best bits of university life?

Probably the satisfaction of having done it, and done my best.

What have been the biggest challenges?

Getting everything done. Trying not to let  your temper get too frayed when you've got an essay to write, a sink full of washing up and a screaming 2 year old!

How do you cope with money?

In the 2nd year of my undergraduate course it was especially hard because of a particular housing benefit regulation which was thankfully changed for the 3rd year. I've never been in touch with an advice centre staffed with such fantastically competent people as the one at Sussex uni. It was tough, but just about doable with their help. I'm now at a different uni and I know that I just couldn't have survived here because of the frighteningly poor quality of advice on offer.

What do you wish you had known before you started?

I wish I had know that students living on campus were not entitled to housing benefit even if their financial situation was such that they would have been entitled if they did not live on campus. I guess that's probably a bit specific! In general, I wish I had known more about student funding/benefits.

How do you juggle your responsibilities?

I just try to get on with it as much as I can. I know that when I'm looking after the kids I won't be able to get any work done so I might as well just enjoy myself until I've put them to bed. Also, I'll only have had to study for about 1½ years this time, so the light at the end of the tunnel isn't too far away (hopefully!)

Where will you be in 10 years time?

I hope I'll have a job as a maths teacher, and as a PGCE gives you some credits towards a master's maybe I'll have managed to do one by then. I've been taking a little look at different master's degrees on offer around London and in my dreams I'd do the one at the Institute of Education called 'Education and Social Justice'. In my other dreams I might own a home, but I think I'm slightly resigned to just renting for the rest of my life which is a bit hideous.

What are your top money management tips?

Find out what you're entitled to. Look on the internet (e.g. DirectGov) before you go to an advice centre so that you know the bare minimum of what you should be hearing. If they know less than you then you're wasting your time.

Name:
Sophie
Age:
27
Course:
PGCE Secondary Maths
University:
Kingston
Year of study:
1st (following BA and pre-PGCE course)
Lives:
with daughter, aged 8, and son, aged 2