Returning to study at 53!

I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across the Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) 2 + 2 degree. In 2013, I had the misfortune to find myself in the unwelcome position of having to change career direction. After being out of the job market for some time, I soon realised that I would need to have some sort of higher education qualification if I stood any chance of getting a ‘decent’ job. Then there was the question of what to do, and whether I’d be able to ‘learn’ at my age. I’d been out of education since the 1970s. I bit the bullet and initially enrolled on an evening college course to see if I could grasp something new. I did surprisingly well, enjoyed the experience of learning and felt that I wanted more. I had always wanted to study a degree but had never had the opportunity before. Now the time was right and I was ready for a challenge.


I literally stumbled across the 2+2 degree online (I still find myself having to describe what 2+2 is to everyone I talk to, friends and other ‘traditional’ students, and I constantly get mistaken for the tutor or lecturer which is quite amusing !). In any case, I plucked up the courage and applied. I got a place at Solihull College and the rest is history, as they say. It wasn’t easy going into a college full of 16 and 17-year-olds at 53. I remember how incredibly nervous I was on my first day, but being so engrossed in learning new skills meant those nerves soon faded into the background. The social science pathway was the perfect fit for me. It was broad and offered me the option to get a taste of a variety of disciplines and from thereon, there were a wide range of modules to choose from. I was drawn to Politics, and after I made the transition to Warwick from Solihull, I concentrated on Politics and Research. I graduated with a first class honours degree. It wasn’t easy, the journey was full of challenges and with each challenge overcome: how to write an essay; reference; put together a presentation; revise for exams, and even just how to manage my time economically, came a real sense of achievement and the desire to know more.


I wasn’t ready to let my journey end. It seemed a natural progression to go onto postgraduate study and I felt comfortable at Warwick, so I applied for a place on the Research in Politics and International Studies MA. I was over the moon to be both awarded a place and a sponsorship that meant my fees were more-or-less covered. I started my MA in October 2017 and I worked part-time, just ten hours a week, as a research assistant. The work experience has proved invaluable and coupled with my degree has given me the opportunity to secure more work in the field of research. I even gave a ‘talk’ on a small community project I’m working on to other Warwick Students – now that was nerve-wracking!


I’m completing my MA in March 2019. I became a ‘hands-on’ grandma earlier this year and felt my priorities shift. I took a temporary withdrawal as I decided to support my daughter at the beginning of her new journey. However, my journey doesn’t end there. I applied to undertake a PhD on the doctoral training programme at Warwick and was awarded a place in Sociology. If all goes well, I’ll continue my journey in October 2019. I can’t wait.

About the blogger

1802_Carol Leech

Carol graduated from the 2+2 BA(Hons) Social Studies Degree with a first-class honours in 2017, she is currently embarking on a MA Research in Politics and International Studies

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