Many of our students used to believe that a university education was not an option for them because they did not meet traditional entry requirements, or because they thought that they would struggle to combine education with other commitments. Rachel was one of those people, until she decided to enrol on a 2+2 degree at the University of Warwick. She is now coming to the end of her degree, and will be staying with us to complete her MA in Social Work next year. Read on to discover more about the challenges and achievements of Rachel’s 2+2 journey…
When I was younger, I never wanted to go to university. I certainly never thought that one-day I would graduate from the University of Warwick. After several attempts to follow different career paths, I settled for what I thought would be a lifetime of boredom within administration. One day I got so fed up with work that I decided to do something about it.
I’d heard about the Centre for Lifelong Learning and the courses they offered several years before but I assumed:
a) I’d never be able to do a degree especially at Warwick
b) I couldn’t afford to give up a full-time job to study
c) generally I just wasn’t clever enough; I only had some GCSEs from school
and probably the most important,
d) I could never study whilst having a family.
When researching the relevant information I realised that the statements above were just myths and I came across the 2+2 degree at Warwick which would allow me to change my career path if I really wanted to. By this time I’d sat and talked it through and had convinced myself that this was what I wanted to do (after several years of assuming I couldn’t do anything). I had the support of my family, and now I was determined that nothing was going to stop me.
My first ‘complication’ was when I’d received my confirmation of a place on the 2+2 degree. I’d accepted the place only to find out I was pregnant. I thought I’d blown my only chance to go to university. However, after talking to my husband and the University, we agreed for me to defer for a year. Honestly, I never thought I would make it to university at this point. When the letter dropped through my door in the summer of 2013 my husband queried why I wasn’t going to accept the place, and after a discussion, I agreed that I would start on the 2+2 programme in September 2013.
Our daughter was only six months old. The first term at college was one of the most difficult; learning relevant study skills, especially reading skills, essay writing and referencing. The first 500-word essay I had to write frightened the living day lights out of me, and if I’m honest, I thought about giving up several times within the first year. Actually, apart from my final year, every year at least once I thought about giving up.
The third year for me was the hardest for personal reasons and if it hadn’t been for such a supportive husband I would have given up. However, I’m so glad that I continued on my journey. It has been the most challenging four years as a ‘mature student’, yet it has also been the most rewarding. I’ve met some amazing people, I have absolutely loved doing my dissertation and meeting professionals who took part in my interviews. My perceptions have been challenged. The biggest decision for me has been regarding what career to follow after my degree.
I don’t know for how many years… but many friends, colleagues and acquaintances always said I would make a great social worker. My journey on this degree has made me realise how inaccurate my perceptions of social work were. All the myths I used to believe from the media and news have been challenged whilst I’ve been at university. I’ve learnt how the media and news can distort the truth and how inaccurate statistics can be. Surprise, surprise, it’s only taken me four years on the undergraduate degree to realise that actually all I really want to do is to help people and hopefully become a social worker. So while my journey as an undergraduate student is nearly over it hasn’t finished yet. I’ve been accepted onto the MA in Social Work at the University of Warwick, which will start in September 2017.
What I’ve loved the most about the opportunity to study on the 2+2 degree is that I didn’t need to have the right qualifications to be offered a place, and the support from the college and CLL has been amazing. Not long after starting the degree I found out I had dyslexia. The support over the four years has been great, however for me that has been another journey of highs and lows. Finding out I was dyslexic made so much sense and I felt relieved, I also went through a time of questioning everything I knew about myself and wanted to know why I had dyslexia. The support I’ve had through disability services has been great and I’ve had the same dyslexia tutor for the 4 years of my degree.
I’ve also met an array of people who I would have never met if I hadn’t started the degree, I am more confident and whilst I’m still not excited about standing up and presenting in front of people, if and when I need to in the future I know I can. One of the other great things about the 2+2 degree is the choice of modules. Depending on what you are interested in, there are so many to choose from that actually, when it comes to choosing your modules, it can be the most difficult part! I’ve loved being a student ambassador for CLL, meeting all sorts of people and disproving some of those myths about being a ‘mature student’, and seeing some of those people start their own journey here. I honestly believe that if you want something badly enough you can achieve it. It may not always be a smooth ride, however the outcome is something you will always be proud of and something no one can ever take away from you. Oh, and by the end of the degree, 500 words seems like nothing!