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Elizabeth: Balancing work, study and family

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Online study
Elizabeth smiling with her daugther

Wondering if it’s possible to balance study and family? In the lead up to Mother's Day, Elizabeth Sandow shared with us her hopes and honest experience about being a dynamic mum who works full time while studying a Diploma of Laws online at CDU. 

When I cross the line, I know I won't be alone

Elizabeth smiling with her two children

Living in Albury in regional NSW, I spent twenty years believing that studying law was for people that were not me: smart people, people with time, people younger than me. Not single mums who work full time! 

My first "real job" after school was in a law firm and I loved the atmosphere, lodging documents at the court houses and the various processes and frameworks. Last year I found out about CDU’s Diploma of Laws and thought I could give it a try. The shorter time frame to complete the degree appealed to me. 

It has taken me a few months but I am beginning to think of myself as a law student. I'm really excited about the opportunities to come and the possibility that maybe someday I will have a bachelor. 

It is really important that my children see that there are rewards for hard work. I am a single parent and my daughters are nine and eleven, so old enough to carry a conversation!

Sometimes, when I am studying, my girls get dragged into my thought process and learn a little bit about law as well. My daughters are my biggest fan club and it is lovely to share this experience with them. 

Being an online student allows me some flexibility

Coordinating work, study and family is more of a juggle than a balance! Some days it means late nights, others it means early mornings. 

When studying online, I am finding that I can study almost anywhere, except at work! I always carry a book with me in case I find a few free moments. It turns out that I can find about 45 minutes of study during tennis and swimming lessons, another 30 minutes during work lunch breaks, and generally another hour or so after the girls go to bed. 

I’ve just started replaying lectures and tutorials while walking the dog in the morning!

In five years, no one will remember that the kitchen floor wasn’t washed

At times it can feel as though you are the only mum going through this. Days when the kids are sick or you are unwell, when you are struggling to get school lunches packed at the end of a busy week because there is no bread. Or, when the house is a mess and the sports uniforms are not washed.

These are small issues in the grand scheme of it. My advice, keep an eye on the big picture. In five years, no one will remember that the kitchen floor wasn't washed but they will remember you graduating from university.

Elizabeth smiling with her two children


I am really enjoying my experience with CDU. Previously, I have completed other online degrees with a couple of other institutions and I am very impressed by the format that CDU has developed. I particularly enjoy Shelley Eder’s lectures. She does a great job at ensuring that no online student is isolated. I very much appreciate that.

I don’t know yet if I want to be a lawyer, but I absolutely want to use my degree to make a difference. There are a number of areas really close to my heart that I feel strongly about and, although I would never call myself a feminist, being a mother of girls I suspect that ensuring equal opportunities for women will be at the forefront of my mind.

Reflecting on my own twenty years delay in enrolling, I would like to encourage everyone to not to wait and to follow their dreams.

With CDU, you can pursue your passion for social justice and you'll have the flexibility and support to achieve your degree your way. Find out more about Law courses at CDU. 

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