1) Cheryl Justine Jones, 39 years, Diagnostic Radiography and Imaging, University of Hertfordshire.
2) I was stuck in a job I had never intended to do. I had been working as an Administrative Officer for a government office since the age of 18, and really felt I was doing nothing with my life. The main reason I went back to study was that I wanted to have a career rather than a job. I wanted to feel I was doing some good and to give my life a sense of purpose. I had longed to work in the health profession for years, but initially felt I wasn’t intelligent enough to go to University, I also felt trapped and that I wouldn’t be able to afford it financially. As I got older I realised it was a case of now or never! I also needed a job that would give me a wage that I could support myself on as I got older, as the wage from the government was appalling.
3) I realised at the age of 19 or 20 that I wanted a career in the health profession. Initially I wanted to be a physiotherapist, but didn’t have sufficient qualifications to apply. The desire never left me and I eventually studied an Access Course in my late 20′s. I applied to University, but unfortunately wasn’t accepted. I was devastated about not getting on the course and felt I was fighting a losing battle, so I resigned myself to the fact I wasn’t good enough. I left myself a little time to recover from the blow and eventually went back to investigate my options. I was told I would need an A’ Level in Biology as well as my Access Course in order to have a good chance of getting on the course, as the competition for places was so high. Over the next few years I studied on and off at night school and eventually got my maths GCSE and Biology A’ level. I was told that the places for physios were still very competitive and that it was now very hard to get a job at the end of the course. Given that I was now much older I couldn’t run the risk of not being able to get a job at the end, so I decided to open up my options. I looked at other allied health professions and after a little research I decided to look a Radiography as well as Physiotherapy. I applied for both courses, but by now I was leaning more towards Radiography. It seemed a more secure option for my future and at the age I was going to be studying and entering the profession it seemed a better option for me overall. I was unsuccessful at getting a place on the Physiotherapy course, but was accepted on the Radiography course at three Universities. This meant the decision was taken out of my hands, but I was more than happy with the way things had turned out.
4) I was apprehensive about coming to University, but I have settled in very well with students right across the board. I am more than happy chatting to the younger students (some of whom are in my circle of close friends) as well as the students even older than myself!
5) The course has a wide range of ages which has undoubtedly helped with settling in to the course and University. I think I would have felt more obvious and a bit like a fish out of water if the age range wasn’t so diverse.
6) The fact that I am changing my life and am no longer trapped in a future going nowhere! I am also enjoying all the experiences it is offering me, all the people I have met and the challenges it is giving me. It is also giving me a lot of confidence, as for so long I thought I would never get here and I wasn’t good enough and now I’ve proved to myself I am. I feel like I have a new lease of life and the future is bright.
7) Financially it is hard, I had to get a part time job and my family help out which is a blessing as I don’t think I could do it without them. Having to work does bite into my study time, but unfortunately it is a necessity. Living in Hall of Residence is a major downside. Most of the students living on Campus are much younger and there is noise morning noon and night, (but especially night) so I have to sleep with earplugs in.
8) Much the same as Q6. I have a new confidence in myself and my capabilities. I’m gaining a much wider experience of life by meeting new and diverse people. It is helping me to appreciate what I have and the person I want to be, but most of all I’m proud of myself because I’m finally realising I am clever enough to do this and I do deserve to be here. I have a great sense of achievement.
9) You need to be determined and committed and have a strong desire to change your life.
10) Don’t give up. Go back to night school and gain the qualifications you need and do it before it becomes too late. I dipped in and out of study, but if I had remained committed and had not been put off every time I hit a hurdle I could have done this much sooner. My first year is nearly over and it has flown by so quickly. You need to be organised, focused and determined and realise that a few years of hard work can give you a better future. Look into your course and find out what is involved, if you can, go and visit the workplace that your course will lead to, in my case I arranged visits to several hospital departments to make sure I wanted to do his for a living. If possible, clear any existing debts you have before you start, but look into what help and assistance is available for your circumstances.