Often, all you want to shout at your employer is show me the money! But remember a career is long game, and very often you will need to make difficult decisions relating to remuneration. Sometimes, it is also worth implementing strategies to make more with what you have at a given moment. Whichever way your fiscal balance sheet falls, it is a pretty good bet that the more value you add in the workplace, the more your shares (and dividends!) will go up. PAY will give you some good ideas on how to make that happen.
In today's extremely competitive job market, many people consider further studies to boost their careers, broaden their horizons, or improve their chances of landing a promotion.
It's a fact that further study can be a very rewarding journey, bringing new energy and drive into your life and having a positive impact even beyond the workplace, if certain guidelines are followed.
But going back to school years after you thought you had closed the book on studies, is a very challenging endeavour and not to be tackled without due consideration. Too often adult learners throw in the towel without having ensured they have the basic structures and strategies in place.
Studying while having to juggle a job and family is hugely stressful and intimidating, but staying the course will almost certainly give successful students a new lease on life. However, if you are considering this, you must accept that compromises will have to be made, and not allow life's daily challenges to trip you up.
If you are ready to take your life next level though, here are 5 brilliant strategies to rock the world of study as an adult, brought to you by The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.
CREATE A STUDY ROSTER AND STICK TO IT
Working on your studies as and when you have the time can create unnecessary stress and is setting you up for failure. Find a standard block of time every day, or at least four days of the week, which will be used only for study. This time needs to be free from interference so that you can focus. Choose the hours that work best for you – early morning, a few hours before bed each night, or a block of hours every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Creating a consistent study block is also a useful mechanism to manage the expectations of friends, family and colleagues, who will come to learn that you are unavailable to them during your designated study time.
But also ensure that you balance the amount of time spent on the administrative side of your studies and the amount of time spent with your nose in the books. Those hours should not be spent on endless admin and drawing up of schedules, 85% of it should be spent learning.
GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW
Being a parent – whether single or in a partnership – can make study a little bit more complicated, but not impossible.
If you have children, ensure that that you have reliable child-care lined up as well as a back-up plan. Having group-work meetings, lectures or exams interrupted because of unreliable child-care creates unnecessary stress and can damage your focus and motivation.
If you are employed, make sure that your colleagues and your line managers are supportive of your studies. Understanding and empathic colleagues can provide much needed advice and emotional support. Explain the value that your studies will add to your ability to do a better job and how it will be to the advantage of your company. Make sure that your decision is supported, and use the study leave available to you, should your company make provision for it.
REMEMBER THAT MATURITY IS NOT A DISADVANTAGE
Studies can be daunting from the perspective of an adult with a number of other responsibilities.
Younger students do seem to have the easier time of it, as they may not yet be financially responsible for themselves and they may not have as many responsibilities to focus on. However, the value of life-experience and maturity should not be underestimated. As an adult learner, you have a wealth of experience and greater familiarity with socialisation to draw upon. This contextualises theoretical studies, which makes the material easier to internalise and remember. Be confident in what you already know.
HARNESS NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Furthering your studies is about more than just mastering the subject material.
It is an opportunity to cultivate relationships with lecturers, guest lecturers and fellow-students. An academic discipline that you have in common with them is an easy conversation starter. In the future, these people can be great resources for potential job opportunities or providing professional advice, so make sure you build your network.
NURTURE A SUPPORT BASE AMONG YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS
You are not alone in this, and many other students in your course will be going through the same stress and pressures that you are.
Cultivate relationships, and start an online support group via WhatsApp or Facebook, where you can share resources, emotional support and remind each other of scheduling or deadlines. Before you know it, you and your new friends and future colleagues will write your last exam, and the sacrifices you made to get there will pale against the victory of holding your qualification in hand.
Come to terms with the fact that it is not going to be easy. You are going to have to commit a sizable chunk of your time and energy to your studies. Keep reminding yourself of your end goal and the benefits that will far outweigh the stress and effort.
The graduate employability strategy of The Independent Institute of Education, as implemented on Rosebank College campuses throughout South Africa, has been recognised as the top programme of its kind by the World Bank.
The Independent Institute of Education recently formed part of a global group of institutions from developing countries and regions - including Jordan, Columbia, the Philippines, Mozambique and Brazil - which participated in a pilot study by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank.
The study assessed institutions' strategies to enable graduate employability on several dimensions as part of a project developing a tool to measure the effectiveness of strategies within institutions. Ultimately, the work done at The IIE's Rosebank College campuses was ranked the highest overall alongside the work done in Jordan.
Graduate employability is an international imperative and a successful programme has a clear vision which embeds employability in the curriculum and assessments; engages employers directly; offers structured career services including coaching to students and graduates and has effective and efficient methods for sharing information and linking students, new graduates, employers and alumni.
By assessing these dimensions, the project sought to help institutions strengthen their employability offering to their students.
The investigating team commended The Independent Institute of Education on the deep embeddedness of employability imperatives from curriculum design to graduation, and in particular, were deeply impressed with the work done at Rosebank College.
The employability services on these campuses, under the guidance of Rosebank College's National Graduate Development Manager Lillian Bususu and her team, ensure that the college maintains close contact with students and companies throughout the country, connecting students with the more than 800 prospective employers on their books.
As a result of the strong focus on, and investment in the employability of their graduates, and despite the tough job market, 62.5% of the Rosebank College's Class of 2015 were in employment in 2016, and 76% of them secured a position within 6 months of completing their qualifications.
"Essentially, we have been able to develop a programme which ensures that our graduates not only have the skills that employers want, but also that these skills and qualifications are complemented by real-world workplace competencies, and that these rounded individuals are then matched to the right employers," says Bususu.
"The result is striking, and employers often remark about the fact that we have a different caliber of graduate coming out of our institution. The additional work we do with our students – coaching them in aspects such as CV writing, personal presentation and marketing, handling interviews, and also very importantly, approaching the job search and the world of work with a productive attitude – makes an unmistakable difference."
Bususu says public universities and private institutions have a duty to do more for their students than simply delivering knowledge and qualifications.
"We have to ensure that our young people understand and are able to navigate the intricacies and challenges of the real world, and we have to be able to help them successfully transition from lecture room to workplace," she says.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH, Africa's largest private education group. The IIE is the leading private higher education provider in South Africa, and the only one accredited by The British Accreditation Council (BAC), the independent quality assurance authority that accredits private institutions in the UK.
By law, private higher education institutions in South Africa may not call themselves Private Universities, although registered private institutions are subject to the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight as Public Universities.
The IIE has a history in education and training since 1909, and its brands - Rosebank College, Varsity College, Design School Southern Africa (DSSA) and Vega - are widely recognised and respected for producing workplace-ready graduates, many of whom become industry-leaders in their chosen fields. The IIE offers a wide range of qualifications, from post-graduate degrees to short courses, on 20 registered higher education campuses across South Africa.
Educational institutions in South Africa and across the globe are lagging behind in equipping learners with the skills they will require to be employable in coming years. As a matter of priority, local institutions must immediately devise a plan of action to incorporate these essential skills - also known as global competencies - in schools and higher education institutions, an education expert warns.
"Many international businesses and thought leaders are increasingly raising the discussion around competencies students now need, so that they will be able to face the complex challenges and changes taking place in the global workspace," says Traci Salter, Strategic Academic Development Advisor at ADvTECH, Africa's largest private education provider.
"Developing these competencies will be of benefit to all students and are as important as the foundational skills of literacy and mathematics. They should be core in the way we learn, as well as in the way we need to interact in the world that is," she says.
Salter says that globally, there is increasing acknowledgement of the fact that less than three years from now, in 2020, the skills necessary in previous years will have been replaced by a demand for different skills that are not being given the required attention. Addressing this discrepancy is now crucial.
"The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently revealed the results of a study into the Future of Jobs, which considered the employment, skills and workforce strategies of the future. They canvassed chief HR and strategy officials from the world's top companies, across industries and geographies, to determine what they will require of future recruits.
"They compiled a summary list of the top ten skills identified for both 2015 and 2020 and shared their findings of what needed to be taught. While some countries have made significant strides in implementing programmes to empower their young people in this regard, others, including South Africa, are falling dangerously behind."
Salter says that the results were an eye-opener, and that South Africa can no longer afford to ignore these fundamental findings (see infographic below) clearly identified by the WEF.
"All educational groups need to be referencing this list and asking how they are ensuring these skills are being developed and embedded within the teaching and learning taking place at their schools, colleges and universities," she says.
Salter says that at ADvTECH, the Core Skills Continuum has been rolled out across the group's 96 schools and packaged into five broad categories, namely: Thinking Skills, Research Skills, Communication Skills, Social Skills and Self-Management Skills. Each of these key areas have been broken down into specific focus areas and age appropriate outcomes, which are continually revisited from Grade 000 to Matric, thereby progressively developing students' abilities and enabling them throughout their educational journey.
She adds that any perception that these global competencies are nice-to-haves, given South Africa's existing challenges in education, is simply naive. Additionally, implementation, while calling for commitment and an investment in staff training, time and energy, does not require vast additional funding.
"All schools, higher education institutions and universities, whether public or private, must take note of the WEF guidelines or risk having our country's students left behind in what is generally now being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution," she says.
Salter further explains these core skills are not an addition to existing curricula, but a change in approach to teaching and learning.
"Core Skills are transdisciplinary skills that must be incorporated as part of all learning experiences. No matter the content or concepts being explored, there are opportunities in all of these, for different types of thinking, various forms of research, opportunities for collaborative tasks, numerous ways to communicate understandings as well as occasions for students to develop their self-management skills," she says.
Salter says that teacher education and professional training are crucial to the successful implementation of global competence education.
"South African educational institutions should be providing specific training programmes to support teachers in acquiring a critical awareness of the essential role education can play in the unpacking and development of these fundamental global skills.
"Facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities, this generation of educators are now compelled to address these required capacities, and it is now no longer a negotiable discussion. These skills are, simply put, prerequisite global competencies, which means that no matter where in the world we are, we will all need to be competent and confident in applying them in a myriad of settings."
The ADvTECH Group, a JSE-listed company, is Africa's largest private education provider and a continental leader in quality education, training, skills development and placement services. The Group reports its performance in a segmental structure reflecting the Schools and Tertiary as two separate education divisions, and Resourcing as the third division.
It owns 9 tertiary brands, across 28 sites across South Africa and the rest of Africa. Its higher education division, The Independent Institute of Education, is SA's largest and most accredited private higher education institution.
ADvTECH's schools division comprises 7 brands with 90 schools across South Africa, as well as Gaborone International School in Botswana.
Its 10 resourcing brands places thousands of candidates annually, assisting graduates to make the transition from the world of study to the world of work.
Even students who did well in achieving their undergraduate qualifications are often caught by surprise when the full reality of the demands of post-graduate study hits them. And those who struggled through their undergraduate qualifications may see only dark days ahead. But before throwing in the towel, there are a few tips that can help those studying towards Honours and Masters Degrees, an education expert says.
“Many will be surprised at how different the demands are between under- and postgraduate study and may be wondering if they had not taken on more than they can cope with,” says Peter Kriel, General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education.
“It is particularly the research component of postgraduate studies that seems to floor students. And students often experience an overwhelming sense of loneliness during the research phase because of the personal and individual nature of their inquiry into their chosen field.”
Kriel says combatting this sense of loneliness and isolation is key to making a success of postgraduate study, and particularly so for students who are studying part time or some distance from a campus.
“As is the case with all stressors, the first route of action is to understand what is happening to you and then tackle the experience with solutions that you actively apply. There are a few practical things you must do to help you through this process.”
Form a community of practice: Talk to other students also involved in postgraduate studies, and make a point to not only talk about the academic demands, but also how you experience this path. This way you will realise that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Your community of practice can be an online forum or regular coffee meeting – the point is to ensure that you surround yourself (physically or virtually) with people on the same path.
Know yourself: Take an honest look at your daily habits. You know yourself well enough to identify when you are procrastinating or making excuses. Call yourself out on these and act differently – even if you do not yet feel differently. Be honest with yourself about what constitutes a real challenge and what amounts to evasive tactics. The best way to make yourself behave differently is to share these insights – perhaps with your community of practice or a friend or colleague – and share your commitment to how you are going to change. That way, further procrastination involves letting someone else down too, and is less likely to happen.
Look after your mental wellness: It is normal to experience periods of high vulnerability, tiredness and anxiety about what needs to be done. Balance, says Kriel, is always the answer. Work backwards from deadlines and set yourself many smaller manageable goals; be sure to plan for downtime, rest and relaxation, and get into the habit of a measured pace. Recalibrate your plan as soon as you miss one deadline and you won’t land up with that sickening feeling of not having made any progress on your thesis for six months.
Look after your physical wellness: This includes getting regular exercise and eating well. Kriel says that the 30 mins you take to go for a brisk walk or go to gym or do something you love will not only improve your productivity, but also give you time to reflect on your work, which often results in finding solutions to challenges. Remember that good eating habits do not consist of increasing your intake of chocolate and caffeine only, and excessive alcohol use is a sure way to set yourself up for failure.
Deal with life as it happens: Whether it be a personal crisis, a promotion, a health challenge or failed relationship, life can disrupt the best laid plans. Communication is the key to limiting the impact of life on completing your qualification – speak to your supervisor as soon as you can and adjust your plan to accommodate the new challenge. If you adhered to the above, then it is most unlikely that there will be an objection to you realigning goals and deadlines to accommodate what life has thrown at you, Kriel says.
He says the steps outlined above are not just sound advice for postgraduate students, but for any individual trying to make the best of their life, opportunities and circumstances.
But the value of postgraduate students taking these suggestions seriously lies in the fact that the feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed often come as a shock – particularly to postgraduates who are generally high achievers and usually able to mediate all challenges – and these steps are a sure-fire way to get them back on track.
“Postgraduate students are often surprised by these new feelings and the challenges that they bring, but if they realise that their feelings are normal, that they are not alone, and that there are methods to address them, they are able to stop the spiral of fear and loathing that could prevent them from reaching their dreams,” he says.
MARK TENDAYI TAPIWA MUZARIRI, Class of 2007, graduated from The Independent Institute of Education's Varsity College in Sandton with an IIE Diploma in Information Technology Networking.
He is the In-country Service Controller for Samsung Electronics South Africa.
We asked him about his journey to success.
Tell us more about the position?
My daily tasks include controlling service infrastructure as well as monitoring service partners' performance. I am also responsible for increasing service coverage, intervening and resolving internal and external VOCs and innovating customer service within Zimbabwe.
Why did you choose the qualification you studied?
I had a passion for computers since grassroots level and was so inquisitive to find out why and how computers and electronics worked. I was very experimental and studied my IIE Diploma through Varsity College. This allowed me to follow my dreams.
What was the one thing that stood out the most for you about Varsity College?
It wasn't just an educational facility; it had a family environment which was something that really stood out for me. To top it all off, I won the title of Mr Personality in the Mr&Ms Varsity College Pageant in 2006! It is a moment I'll cherish always as I felt truly appreciated for my all my contributions during my time as a student.
How has the Career Centre assisted you?
Although I knew exactly which field I wanted to be in when I was studying, the Career Centre moulded me to be a well-rounded leader. I started off with the honour of being appointed SLB Vice Chairman and Events co-ordinator.
What advice could you give to other students who are looking for or about to embark on their first job?
Follow your heart, go for gold and never give up! No matter how hard things may get, tough times don't last but tough people do. Take the lemons and make some sweet lemonade.
MARK TENDAYI TAPIWA MUZARIRI, IIE ALUMNUS AND SAMSUNG EXECUTIVE
*DID YOU KNOW?IIE - The Independent Institute of Education is South Africa's largest private higher education provider. By law, private higher education institutions may not call themselves Private Universities. But all registered private institutions are subject to exactly the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight as Public Universities, which means that your qualification from its outstanding and respected brands such as Varsity College, Vega, Rosebank College, The Business School and Design School SA, is as valuable and recognised locally and internationally.
Pretoria North resident Tashalie Vorster was presented with a Student Gold Pack award in the category for improving / redesigning packaging of an existing brand. Vorster, a second year IIE BA Graphic Design student at The Design School Southern Africa (DSSA) was also announced as the second overall winner in the awards.
(The DSSA is a brand of The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa's largest private higher education provider and a division of JSE-Listed ADvTECH Group).
The Gold Pack Awards are issued by the Institute of Packaging South Africa (IPSA) and is the showcase for the South African packaging industry. Since its inception in 1973, the Awards have grown into an event of considerable importance and prestige.
Vorster selected the Whole Earth Farms brand from the US to improve and redesign. Its grain-free product line includes six dry dog foods. Voster noticed a design flaw in the brand’s name and logo which did not reflect that it catered for dogs. She endeavoured to design a logo which would better reflect what the company was about and who they catered for.
“I redesigned it with a photo of a dog wearing a farm cap, linking the two themes of pets and farms. I added in some additional features like the dog carrying a pole with his paws and a little door on the packaging that the food comes out of,” says Vorster.
An additional theme in the redesign was to make the packaging both reusable and recyclable. The packaging came with a sticker explaining the new features. “The design is clean, indicating no fuss, no mess, and no dog food smell,” explains Vorster.
She entered her design with the encouragement of Whole Earth Farm director Bill Marshall. “He believed my design had a chance of winning, and now wants to send it on to the World Packaging Organisation’s World Star Student Awards,” continues Vorster.
DSSA Pretoria campus Graphic Design Lecturer Jeanne Muller was one of Vorsters biggest supporters. “My lecturer Jeanne was an enormous motivation to me throughout the entire project, and especially with my design work. That’s the thing when you study at The Design School SA, they have a very hands on approach and they want their students to succeed,” explains Vorster.
“Competition for awards is fierce, which makes Tashalie’s recognition all the more noteworthy. The awards event itself is a prestigious celebration for everyone involved or interested in packaging and The Design School SA is enormously proud to have her as a student,” says Muller.
“I believe my design was the right one at the right time. Winning this award has given me an enormous boost, I feel confident in what I am doing and I can continue to push myself with even more innovative designs,” concludes Vorster.
Apply now at The Design School SA, for a world-class IIE degree in Graphic Design. Visit www.designschoolsa.co.za
Remember that in many (if not most) circumstances, it will be up to you to ask, and make a compelling case, to boost your salary a bit in 2017.
But we know it’s not easy, and for some it’s downright horrifying, to go through the process. Obviously your boss and company need to watch the bottom line. But remember, if you have been pulling more than your weight in the past year, you totally deserve to be acknowledged for that. And if you are an important member of your team, it is unlikely that your bosses will want to risk losing you or having an unhappy chappy in the office next year.
Think about it - if you’ve accomplished your goals this past year and especially if you have gone above and beyond the call of duty at work, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for additional compensation.
Here are our top tips for asking (and getting) that raise:
Take stock of the current situation: Before you go barging into your boss’s office, demanding a raise – stop and take stock of the situation. Now would be a good time to dig out your employment contract and review your responsibilities. You may feel like you are doing way more than is expected of you, but in fact you are only doing what you are contracted to do. Go through your contract carefully and tick off the things you are doing and make a list of anything extra.
Get a feel for the market: Do some active research into the salaries on offer for people currently doing the same or similar job as you. There are a number of online calculators available that can help to gauge where you fit on the pay scale depending on your qualifications, experience and location. Look out for similar jobs that are being advertised, especially with competitor companies and see what potential salary is on offer. By doing this you will be better able to understand the actual value that you add to the company. If you find that you are being underpaid, then use this to help negotiate a raise.
Collate the Evidence: Claiming to be working harder than you are being paid for is not going to get you anywhere. Your boss is going to want see strong and tangible evidence to support a request for a raise. Keep a notebook handy and jot down important tasks that you have completed which go beyond the remit of your current role. You may have assisted in a project with another team or completed an additional course or qualification for example. Where applicable – maintain a portfolio highlighting your key achievements.
Be tactful: Find a suitable time for you and your boss to sit down and discuss a potential raise. Asking for a raise after the company has just had to retrench people, for example, is probably not the best time. Be confident and polite in your pleas and keep things professional – you are there to ask for a raise because of your great delivery record, not because you want to purchase a new car or go on a luxury holiday.
Be patient: It is unlikely that your boss is going to agree to a raise immediately so don’t expect an answer straight away. She may need a few days or weeks to think in through, consult others or put the proposal to a board of directors. Use this time to your advantage and showcase what a professional and hardworking asset you are to the company.
It never hurts to breathe some fresh life into your CV and your motivation. Show your commitment to lifelong learning by signing up for an exciting short course or distance learning programme. For more information, check out the great offerings from The Independent Institute of Education's campuses across South Africa.
"Students opting to study towards BCom and other business-related degrees at private higher education institutions are consistently and substantially increasing year-on-year," she says.
"This is not only because of the shortage of places in the public sector universities, because we have seen that many more students now elect private higher education institutions as their first choice, given the sector's work-readiness approach and smaller class-sizes.
"It is clear that private higher education is becoming the study route of choice for an increasing number of young South Africans, in line with international trends."
Although there are hundreds of qualifications on offer across a myriad of fields, BCom enrolments at The IIE represent almost 30% of the new student intake at The IIE's Varsity College campuses across South Africa. At The IIE's Rosebank College, enrolments continue to increase more than 15% year-on-year.
Additionally, 25% of new students are registered on Higher Certificates with the explicit intention of going on to do a degree in the next year, says Coughlan.
"In the past, many viewed private institutions as geared mainly toward creative courses or offering only diploma programmes. Despite these incorrect perceptions still clinging on in some uninformed circles, it is encouraging to see that there is an increasing recognition of the fact that private institutions are subjected to exactly the same accreditation and registration regulations as public institutions," Coughlan says.
"South Africa has a single quality assurance system and one National Qualifications Framework so any institution offering a registered and accredited qualification – whether public or private – is offering a qualification of comparable standards and equal standing."
Coughlan points out that most of the qualifications offered by reputable private higher education institutions are degrees (including postgraduate qualifications) or pathways to degree studies (such as Higher Certificates), or diplomas directly related to key occupational areas such as IT, public relations or sport development and management.
"These degrees and pathways are available in all key business fields including law and economics, accounting, statistics, marketing, public administration and finance. Additionally, all important information and communication technology fields such as gaming, software and application development, networking, IT management, information systems, security and support and most of the essential human and social sciences including communication, education, psychology and sociology, justice and criminology, theology and languages are offered.
"Obviously the various fields of design and creative sciences and arts are also available at many good institutions, but it is an absolute myth that these qualifications dominate the offerings in the private sector."
Coughlan says that because there is no state subsidy for private institutions, the cost of private higher education is still higher than at public universities, however this cost is often offset because of improved results.
"Private institutions are often far more affordable from a broader perspective than members of the public seem to realise. And because these campuses are mostly relatively small with class sizes rarely exceeding 100 students, individual focus and therefore higher success rates are the norm.
"As a result, proportionally more students graduate, making the overall educational experience a real value for money opportunity. Students are encouraged to find out the facts about fees from campuses they are interested in – they may be surprised particularly when considering what they are getting in return."
Coughlan says that of the Class of 2014, 60% of the Independent Institute of Education BCom graduates were employed within four months of graduating with 30% of graduates going on to study further.
"To make the right decision about where, what and how to study, prospective students must start researching and receiving information about all their options, in a context which does not continue to pander to historic misconceptions," she says.
"Choices about tertiary education must be based on a thorough assessment of the fit between personal aspiration, circumstances and the institutional choices available. And it is incumbent on all roleplayers – parents and guardians, teachers, counsellors and the media – to expose those considering further study to all available options, and to add private higher education to consideration sets as a matter of course taking all the facts in to consideration."
In today's challenging economy, many parents are taking on further studies, often in an effort to better provide for their families after graduating. But studying while having to balance work and family responsibilities is not for the faint of heart, and could have a detrimental effect not only on the existing family budget, but also the general wellbeing of a family, if not approached with a clear strategy.
"In the past, people studied in a particular discipline and were largely committed to that for life," says Tammy Oppenheim, Head of Programme: Faculty of Humanities at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
"But in 2016, the landscape has altered completely. People are exposed to a great deal more information and experiences, and many choose to alter their career path, which may require further study later in life. Even for those who stay in their selected field, study is vital to ensure they remain relevant and up-to-date on the requirements of your field," she says.
"If approached correctly, further study can fast-track a career and give access to promotions or financial rewards that would have been otherwise unachievable."
In addition to financial reward, a change of career path and upwards mobility can also contribute beneficially to self-esteem and self-actualisation, helping parents to be the best role-models they can be for their children, says Oppenheim.
"Modelling life-long learning and good study habits can help your children on their own study path and also provide valuable common ground and conversation opportunities, particularly in the teenage years. But to successfully handle the increased pressure and demands study brings to the family dynamic, everyone needs to be on the same page."
So what can parents do to make a success of further study while keeping up with their parental responsibilities?
Oppenheim says there are 5 important facets to making it work:
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Choose an academic institution that caters to your needs as a parent, such as those offering part-time and distance studies. Attending lectures on the weekend or from the comfort of your own home gives greater flexibility, especially for parents who work full-time. Smaller academic institutions also tend to offer greater individual support and flexibility, both of which are invaluable to a busy parent.
2. HAVE A PLAN B IN PLACE FOR EVERY EVENTUALITY
Arrange for back-up childcare for those times when you are absolutely unavailable, for instance when you have an exam or presentation scheduled, just in case your original plans fall through.
3. BE HONEST WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Explain what you are studying and why, and show your children the value of a life-long-learning philosophy. School-age children often take great pleasure in having learning as a common interest with parents. Sitting together for study-time is both good bonding-time and a great way to model good study habits for your children.
4. MENTALLY COMPARTMENTALISE
People are complex. An individual may be a mother, a worker, a student, a spouse and a friend all at the same time. However, it can be daunting to have your head-space filled up with all of your roles at the same time. Careful scheduling can help avoid this. Carve out blocks of time for each of your responsibilities, and don't allow guilt or distraction from one area to intrude when you are focusing on another area.
5. GET SUPPORT
Taking on tertiary studies as a parent will be challenging and time-consuming and can feel isolating and overwhelming. Speak to fellow students with children, join an online parenting forum and seek out others who are going through the same experience. Simply verbalising your challenges can be helpful, but chances are there may also be some useful advice in response.
"When you are in the middle of an exam period and your little one has a cold and wants to be held all night, and your boss is drowning you in work, it can feel overwhelming and never-ending. But it is important to remind yourself that your studies have an end-date," says Oppenheim.
"Visualise your journey: In one week I will have finished my first set of exams; in 6 months I will have finished my research proposal; in two years I will be walking across the stage at my graduation. Studying is not going to be easy; but it is most definitely going to be worth it."