" Whilst studying I felt like I had something for myself that I loved outside of being a mum, but would ultimately allow me to provide for my family"
Why did you decide to come back and study as a mature student?
I always knew that I wanted to get a degree and I applied at a time in my life that felt right. I was in a place where I felt quite unfulfilled with what I was doing, and I wanted to start something new that could potentially lead to some sort of meaningful work. This isn’t to say I came to university really confident though, it definitely felt like a leap of faith, and I was really unsure as to whether I’d be able to study.
Why did you choose to study a degree with a FDN year?
I didn’t have the qualifications to go straight through to degree level study and the foundation year allowed me onto my degree programme. I think I initially saw the foundation year as a stepping stone into the thing that I really wanted to do, but it actually turned out to be a very crucial experience for me and one of the most enjoyable years of my life. At the same time, I hadn’t heard of a foundation course before researching degree opportunities and I couldn’t believe that there was a way for me to gain entry into a redbrick university. I didn’t do very well at school, so I always thought that studying at a prestigious university was completely out of my reach.
Why did you choose to study at DLL? At TUOS?
I’m from Sheffield and this is where my friends and family are, so I wanted to stay local. Growing up in Sheffield, the university always felt like a really beautiful and important place, so when I discovered the foundation year - that allowed people from any background or experience to apply - I absolutely jumped at the chance.
What are the benefits in undertaking a FDN year?
I think the benefits are endless. I was very low on confidence when I first started studying - I genuinely didn’t know if I was intelligent or capable enough. However, after the first few months of the foundation year, my confidence started growing and I started developing skills that I still use to this day. The support you receive daily (from tutors and peers) allows you to give studying your best go and the training the foundation year provides means that you come out with really crucial studying skills. I started my undergraduate degree knowing how to reference, how to write an essay, how to use the library. I also knew lots of people on campus and I felt comfortable in a seminar and lecture setting. This all meant that I felt confident and excited to begin my undergraduate degree.
What have you enjoyed most about the FDN year?
I enjoyed meeting like minded people. I became very friendly with a lot of my peers - one was a bridesmaid at my wedding. I had a great time during the foundation year. It was amazing to start studying and my mind really opened up to new ideas and people.
What have you enjoyed most about your degree course?
I love the subject of Sociology. It has always felt like a real privilege to be able to sit in lectures and learn about things that I find so interesting. I also love reading and writing. Sometimes it is hard to sit down and work - especially when I have my 4-year-old son running around - but I don’t think there’s anything else I’d rather be doing in terms of my career. I got pregnant during the second year of my undergraduate degree and now study as a student parent. Although it presents its own challenges, studying for my undergraduate degree, in particular, felt like I had something for myself that I loved outside of being a mum, but that would ultimately allow me to provide for my family.
How has the delivery of your course changed since the covid-19 outbreak?
I studied the last semester of my final year of my undergraduate degree online and the whole of my MA was online. It was initially difficult to adjust to learning in this way, but the online content was incredibly accessible, and I actually really enjoyed studying from home. I’m currently finishing off some assignments for my masters and have had loads of opportunities to meet with my dissertation supervisor in person. Although it feels like things are returning to normal, I know that if we had to return to online learning, it’s completely doable.
What do you plan to do after your degree?
I will be starting a PhD in sociology in October, which I am really excited about. If someone had told me when I applied for the foundation year that I would go on to study for a PhD, I don’t think I would have believed them. I feel proud of what I’ve achieved, but I owe so much to the foundation year for giving me the opportunity to study.
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