Kerry Long

Photograph of Kerry

Department: Law
Course: BA (Hons) Social Policy and Criminology
Year of Study: 2nd
Age: 41

After 14 years working for the police force I felt I needed to stimulate my brain and started an access course at a local college. I really enjoyed it and it inspired me to apply to study at university.

The change from one day a week on my access course to full time study for a degree was an initial shock, but once I had my timetable I realised that a full time degree did not mean being in the University full time. The actual contact time in lectures and seminars is quite spread out and you can then manage your own time for independent study around these.

I have two teenage boys and was worried about the workload fitting in with family life. I found making notes of key dates and deadlines when assessments are due in really helped, and prioritising what needs to be done when. Time management is the key to keeping on top of work load – being organised also helps!

I was worried that the younger students would be way ahead of me as they would be use to writing essays and being in a learning environment. My fears were soon alleviated as I found the younger students very easy to get along with and I realised that they too had their own issues about being away from home for the first time. My age wasn´t even an issue and my life experiences contributed greatly to discussions.

I was also concerned that I would not be able to write an essay up to university standard, but I really enjoy reading around the subjects and the study skills I learnt as part of my access course were put to good use. The University also runs study skills sessions for mature students – which I have found particularly useful for tips on planning and writing essays at academic level, exam revision skills and how to do power point presentations etc.

I have lived in my own home whilst studying and have managed to cope with studying and managing my family life by treating life at university like a full time job – making good use of time between lectures and seminars to go to the library or do some reading. During exams times and coursework deadlines you do have to make a few sacrifices, but you also need to allow yourself time to relax and wind down.

The course I am doing has given me a great deal of knowledge and skills that I could use in any field of work. I am constantly learning new things and picking up new skills. When I have finished my degree I am thinking about a career in the criminal justice system and have developed a keen interest in Youth Justice, but I am still keeping an open mind.

I have found researching the different topics the most enjoyable part of the course – reading one article leads to another and the different perspectives gives you a much broader picture. I also enjoy the discussions and seminars to hear other people´s points of view.

I have been very impressed by the staff who have taught me and it is a privilege to be taught by experts in their field who are so enthusiastic about their work. They have been very approachable and willing to answer any queries I´ve had. My personal tutor has also been very understanding.

I have made some very good friends from all walks of life and a wide range of ages both on my course and on other courses. I have also played for the law netball team and taken part in some of the `Give it a Go´ activities.

Sheffield is a vibrant city with so much to see and do, and the people of Sheffield are very friendly. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at university so far. I feel I missed out when I was younger, but I have found you are never too old to learn – in fact my life experiences have been a bonus.