"When I asked myself if I wanted to stay where I was, or do something different, I instantly knew I wanted to return to education"
What had you been doing prior to coming to University/since you left your earlier education?
I had spent the previous 9 years working in a post office. I started as a sales assistant, and worked my way up to management. I learnt a lot of things from that job, which really helped me excel as a mature student, from time keeping, to interpersonal skills.
Why did you decide to return to education as a mature student?
I had an interest in the subject of sociology and I enjoyed reading popular sociology books. I had also found myself desiring a more meaningful form of employment that would ideally make some kind of positive contribution to the world. So, when I came to a point where I could ask myself if I wanted to stay where I was, or do something different, I instantly knew I wanted to return to education and study sociology.
Why did you choose to study at DLL at The University of Sheffield?
I had fallen in love with the Peak District, so the idea of studying in Sheffield was very appealing. However, having considered foundation years at other universities, I was most impressed by how integrated the Foundation Year was at the DLL.
What do you like most about Sheffield as a city?
I feel that Sheffield has a bit of everything. The Peak District is on my doorstep. It’s also the place to come for all things climbing. Equally, the city is full of great things to do. Most importantly, Sheffield has a thriving music scene!
How did the foundation year benefit you/prepare you for your degree study?
Studying a foundation year prepares you for undergraduate level study in so many different ways. It teaches you HOW to be a student by equipping you with skills like how to write an essay. Integrated with your undergraduate course, it gives you foundational knowledge which provides you a head start on your subject. Also, it gives you time to get to know the campus, and all the things available to you as a student.
What did you enjoy most about the foundation year?
I loved having the opportunity to discuss the things we were learning. It’s one thing to read a book about something, it’s another to talk about that with a group of your peers. It felt exciting to talk about these things, and at times have my ideas challenged.
What have you enjoyed most about your degree course?
Everything! Sociology covers a huge range of topics, and provides a number of different perspectives you can use to consider them. I’ve been able to write essays on topics that don’t get a lot of attention. However, I have really enjoyed the practical side of conducting my own research. I feel that I have benefited so much from the foundation year, as well as the skills I learnt in my previous employment.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced, and how have you overcome these?'
Like a lot of people, I felt like an imposter when I came to university as a mature student. I overcame this by getting involved, and doing the best I possibly could. I would attend extra study skills sessions at 301, which really helped me with learning the skills I needed to succeed. It also put me amongst other students, so I began to feel like a part of the wider community.
What advice would you give to other mature students considering a return to education?
You will know if it is the right time for you. If it is… DO IT! But, seriously, you need to be prepared to put university at the centre of your life. If you’re studying full time, then you need to treat it as a full time job. The more you put in, the more you will get out of the experience.
What do you plan to do after your degree?
Originally, I expected to transition back into employment following my undergraduate. However, I currently have a conditional offer for a Masters and PhD. So, I hope that I will be staying here for a few more years.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your experience of being a mature student at the University of Sheffield?
I feel that coming to university at this time in my life was the best way for me to do it. When I was younger, I would have wasted the opportunity. However, as a mature student, I have made the most of my time here, and I am proud of what I have achieved so far. Being a mature student has actually been a huge advantage.
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