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We Support Your Ambition: Study tips for mature students

Current ULaw student Melissa is studying the LLB at our London Bloomsbury campus. Previously, we’ve spoken to Melissa about her Clearing experience, but today she gives us a glimpse into how she balances work, family and studying.

By Cara Fielder. Published 25 March 2022.

Throughout the pandemic and during my Foundation Year, I was working on Ministry of Justice contracts part-time, retaining my mentoring and sponsoring portfolio of clients. Fortunately, both roles are flexible so that helped with balancing my work and studies. However, during year one of the LLB, I have taken a step back from the Ministry of Justice contract.

My ten-year-old son has also been home-schooled throughout the pandemic lockdowns and is being home-schooled at present too. I’ve also supported two people close to me through cancer since starting at The University of Law and I have a committee member role at my local athletics club.

With all my commitments, when I accepted my place at The University of Law, it was important for me to design and create a study space that I was going to be comfortable studying in for five years. Equally, I need to be somewhere inspiring. I love studying from home because I have everything I need to hand; studying in the garden through warmer months is something I particularly love. Then, when I find myself overwhelmed or need extra focus, I’ll go to the Bloomsbury Campus library (the top floor has views of The Shard) or Lincoln’s Inn Library on a Saturday – these places inspire me and centre me as well as giving the space for undistracted peace.

The ULaw Welfare Team are superb support. They have a very different approach to welfare departments in schools and colleges. They are very person-centred and not nosey; they simply help you with whatever you share with them. For example, I am studying criminal law, which triggers some unpleasant feelings for me, but I have an appointment straight after the lesson with Welfare and that helps.

The Disability Support and Inclusion Service have assisted in my assessment for a specific learning disability (SpLD) and provided a University of Law Inclusion Plan (ULIP) to help me and specify the adjustments I am entitled to.

The Study Skills Team helped me when I needed some extra skills and confidence for exams. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a meeting with the BAR specialist in the Employability department too.

I use lots of study aids. I swear by the Macmillan Student Planner, if I could only have one organisational tool, it would be that. I have a wall planner, whiteboard and year planner for my course and assessment timetables all hanging on my wall at home next to my desk. Right now, I have the walls around my home covered in sticky notes and prompt cards with lesson notes and case law notes. I use sticky tabs to mark textbook pages too and I’ve indulged my habit for buying pretty pens.

My ULaw app is invaluable for on-the-go organisation and calendar reference. It helps me to have the information I need at my fingertips and easily identifiable. The app is a brilliant aid; having lectures available to watch again has been helpful. My next investment is an app that reads my books to me, I think that will help improve my efficiency. I can do the housework while listening and read the parts of the book which are more complex.

I would describe my study routine as flexibly disciplined. I attempt to do most of my studying between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday because I’m used to those being normal business operating hours. At the same time, life happens. We all have important disturbances and if a piece of work is not completed within the timeframe I’ve set myself, then I prioritise. Previous work experience is an advantage here as I’ve been honing my time management skills for years. Also, celebrating success is very important to me (we like cake in my house).

Every person is on their own journey, and not one piece of advice fits all. Two quotes that are open to interpretation that I’ve found particularly helpful are, ‘If you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, go light it yourself’ and ‘Think. Act. Believe. Become.’


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