I did wonder if I would be out of my depth, but the way the course has been designed stopped me from having those doubts

Laura Kirby is a first year on our part-time Social Studies degree. She completed the online Summer Gateway last year which enabled her to progress onto the degree. Here she shares how she found herself studying at CLL….

When Covid struck last year, like a lot of people, I was furloughed and potentially facing redundancy.  Life was uncertain and it made me think that I was coasting along in life and I wanted to do something to change it.

I left school over 25 years ago, and I did not achieve what I had wanted in my GCSEs. I began my working life as an office junior in a law firm and for most of my life, I have continued to work within the legal sector.  I have always been inquisitive and my employment in the legal sector has exposed me to many elements and aspects of both human and societal behaviour.  I began googling courses for adult learning and found some information about the Online Summer Gateway course more or less straight away. The Online Summer Gateway course was open to anyone without formal qualifications, for three hours a week lasting 5 weeks covering topics such as food, health, globalisation and society. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, it seemed absolutely perfect for me. I immediately rang CLL to find out more. I had missed the first week of the course, but Steve Gascoigne, the course lecturer, agreed that I could join on the second week and I would be sent Zoom link to join the course the next week. I received an email from Steve welcoming me to the course and he sent me the reading for the upcoming topic, society –  which sounded right up my street! Steve confirmed that he would produce PowerPoint slides during seminar, and that he would set some homework to get used to writing again.  Steve was engaging and good humoured, and explained the topics perfectly. My peers on the course were from all walks of life, and all age groups, it was good to hear different perspectives on the topics. I did wonder if I would be out of my depth, but Steve and the way the course has been designed stopped me from having those doubts. I really enjoyed learning and completing coursework and not only was the substance engaging, but it allowed me to hone my critical thinking skills, albeit in a short timeframe. 

After completing the course, I arranged a Zoom meeting with Steve who explained the options if I wanted to continue studying and was really encouraging. I enrolled on the part-time degree offered in Social Studies which covers a broad range of topics.

I am grateful to have a good support network around me.  There have been challenges this year with balancing work, home schooling and studying but a challenge I am willing to take! I want to show my son that you can achieve things if you are determined.  It’s never too late to do the things you want to do, which makes me more determined to succeed. I would have never in a million years thought I would have the opportunity to study at a top university.  The Gateway course gave me confidence in my abilities and allowed me to do just that!

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