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Ask Ash

14 October 19

Advice column: I'm studying part time for extra qualifications, but am feeling too much pressure

Dear Ash,

I have been looking to gain additional qualifications in order to try to improve my career prospects. However, I am finding it really difficult trying to juggle my current work commitments with studying. I am barely able to sleep and have not had a proper holiday in months. Despite this I do not seem to be able to meet my course deadlines and have recently had to ask for another extension. I do want to do well in my career but I hadn’t appreciated how hard it would be becoming a student again. 

I feel under pressure to continue with the course but I am not sure if I can carry on like this. My line manager seems to be oblivious to the pressures I am under but I don’t want him to think that I’m unable to cope.

Ash replies:

Your commitment to gaining additional qualifications is very admirable, but you seem to be paying a very high price in terms of your health and wellbeing. I understand your desire to improve your long term career ambitions, but you need to be careful not to jeopardise your current career prospects.

It is apparent that you are struggling to cope at present, and there is no shame in admitting to this and finding ways of trying to make things a little easier on yourself. I suggest that you first talk to your line manager to see if you can be provided with some regular study time, for example one afternoon a week where you can focus purely on your studies. Your qualifications are likely to be beneficial to your employer as they will give you enhanced skills, therefore they should be more supportive.

In addition you should look to speak to your course tutor in order to see if you can have more flexibility in terms of your course work. Given that you are in a full time role, perhaps consider asking if it is possible to potentially reduce your hours of study. Some courses allow for particular credits to be worked over a number of years. Alternatively, look to see if you can put your studies on hold for a few months in order to allow you to recharge your batteries and reassess your situation. You clearly need a break and there would be little point in trying to gain qualifications at the cost of a deterioration in your mental health. Take some time to assess your priorities. The qualifications are important, but so are you!

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectcommunications.co.uk, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

• Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team.

For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email: KatieWood@lawscot.org.uk

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