After working with children and families for the past sixteen years, I decided to return to education in 2017 to further my career and hopefully become a social worker. I am now a first-year, undergraduate, Social Work and Applied Social Studies student at the University of Bath.
Returning to education
Firstly, in order to do this, I had to retake my Maths and English GCSE’S and complete an access course which I completed at Bath College. With a lot of hard work and dedication and support from my family and friends, I completed both in 2018 and 2019. Whilst completing my access course, I was unsure of which university to apply for.
I currently live at home with my young son and partner in Bristol and therefore, my choices were limited. Additionally, as I am a mature student with family commitments and a mortgage, returning to education was a big decision for myself and my family.
I was concerned I would not achieve the entry grades needed, after recently being diagnosed with dyslexia, to attend the University of Bath as the requirements were higher than other local universities. However, to my surprise, my best was good enough and I exceeded the grade requirements!
Therefore, my advice to anyone worried about this is to apply and try; raise your aspirations and you may just surprise yourself! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Scholarships & bursaries
Returning to education has meant the loss of an income for our household and was not a choice we took lightly. However, the University offers great scholarship and bursary opportunities and I am a lucky member of the Gold Scholarship programme.
Peers of mine are in receipt of the Bath Bursary and there is also the Hardship Fund to help individuals in need of additional financial support whilst studying at Bath (subject to meeting the requirements). The financial support offered at Bath is a real help to relieve financial stress, enabling you to focus fully on your studies.
Luckily for me, my son has just started school and the school provides before and after school childcare if needed. The University of Bath, however, do have an on-campus nursery if you are in need of childcare for younger children.
Freshers’ Week was a very different experience than I had imaged it to be. I thought I would feel overwhelmed and a bit of an outsider, being older than most students. However, everyone made me feel really welcome.
As a mature student, I did not want or have the time or money to join in with all the evening activities offered to you in the Week. However, I really enjoyed some of the afternoon meeting activities and found them really helpful in making new friends with people on my course. I also liked arriving the next day and having a clear head, unlike some ;).
Mature Students Group
During Freshers’ Week, I found there was also a Mature Students Group who arrange meetings for students to talk to others in similar situations to themselves. I found this group really useful for talking about time management strategies and how to balance, student and home life effectively.
So far so good…
I am now halfway through my first year and can honestly say, I am thoroughly enjoying it! In my class, there are a variety of ages and abilities and we all have something to offer, to help develop each other’s learning and understanding of the different aspects of the course. We support and encourage each other really well and I am really excited to continue my journey with them all.