Gateway to HE: Social Studies Course Continues, Opportunities, & Work/Study/Life Balance
Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/study/cll/courses/gatewaytohe2017/
Having been part of the Gateway course for four months now, I am as delighted to be part of it now as I was to start with, well more so if I am to be perfectly honest. The Gateway Group 16/17 is a truly lovely mix of amazing people. As we have gotten to know each other a little more I am often touched by the lengths everyone goes to in helping others on the course. Nothing seems to be too much trouble. We have had someone bringing in mugs for us all so that we have a weekly drinks mug. People have taken it in turns each week to provide teabags/milk on the night. Someone provided a recording device for another who was struggling to write notes due to health issues. There has been sharing of scanned notes for those that are missing/struggling that night. Sharing of hints/tips on how and where to find information. A journal searching ‘how to’ guide sent to us all. Numerous supportive chats during our breaks, revealing we all feel the same concerns, and finding it comforting to know we struggle in similar areas. Offers of help have been forthcoming, wherever it is needed. On the tech front a member of the group set up a group Slack account (https://slack.com/) to use as our collaborative tool so that we can all keep in touch, ask questions, upload files, links etc. We chose this as setting up a closed group on Facebook or WhatsApp wasn’t going to work due to some of the group only using one or the other. We needed a tool that we could access from both Smartphone and/or PC (Web browser). Slack fitted our needs perfectly.
The course itself has slowly increased in workload each week, Steve Gascoigne (Tutor) has openly said he is piling the work on in stages to see how we cope with experiencing more than one deadline, and differing submission dates. This is so that we won’t find it a complete surprise when we encounter this on the degree course. This is important for those of us that have been away from education for some time, although most of us have deadlines to juggle in our working and personal lives so hopefully are used to a little pressure. Each week the course covers a different topic, some of the ones we covered so far are; Family, Food, Traffic, Education, Consumption (as in shopping, not lungs!!), and Health, to name but a few. During the evening, we typically discuss the articles we have been set the week before, which relate to the new topic for that night. We then have a presentation from Steve, with discussion throughout so we get to ask questions, and he clarifies (which he is brilliant at by the way!!). We hand in an essay that was set the week or two weeks before and we get a new essay for either the next week or week after. We started with just a 500-word essay, building up over the weeks towards our target 2,000-word essay which forms part of the exam. The one I submitted last week was 1,500 words, which I didn’t find too onerous now that we have written a few of them.
In my previous blog (27Feb17) I mentioned that there were opportunities to embrace University life at Warwick, should we want to. As 2017 is my year of change, and my new motto, I decided early on when I applied for the Gateway course that I would take advantage of anything on offer that appealed to me (or scared me slightly). I wanted to enjoy as much about University life as possible, so that I could really embrace the whole experience of coming here. I felt this was important as with being a part-time student it would be all too easy to just turn up for my course session and go again, and I wanted more than that.
Steve had arranged for some of his colleagues to speak to us about what was available and which as Gateway students we could be very welcome to apply for. It turned out that for some of the activities we would be paid for our efforts too.
I decided to apply for Student blogging as I have never done anything like it before, and the thought of it made me slightly nervous (this made it a definite must for me as it fell firmly into my 2017 ‘give it a go’ category). The same thoughts were true for applying to be a Student Ambassador, I am going along to a training day this week so I will report back on here how that goes. Also, I asked to go along to the CLL Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) as a Rep for Gateway back in Nov-16, it was good to go along and meet other staff and fellow students on other courses such as the 2+2 and Part-Time degree course. I was recently delighted to be asked to be Secretary for the CLL SSLC, and I had my first meeting in that role this month. It was most enjoyable, and again everyone was incredibly helpful.
Information to the roles I have mentioned above can be found via the links below:
- Student Ambassador http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/study/cll/currentstudents/welcome/paidwork/studentambassador
- Student Blogs http://studentblogs.warwick.ac.uk/
- Adult Digital Skills Mentors http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/study/cll/currentstudents/learningspace/elearn/mentoring
- Staff Student Liaison Committee https://www.warwicksu.com/sslc/#course-reps
- Vlogging was mentioned, although I don’t have a link for this
Also, the University of Warwick has its own onsite temping agency, which as students we can enrol with if we want to (to be paid for Blogs, or Student Ambassador work you need to enrol with Unitemps anyway.
I am sure I will trip across other opportunities which I will mention in my future blogs as I find them.
I have a busy full-time job near to Birmingham Airport/NEC. My role is largely admin, I work in a Sales team, with a crossover into Finance, and have lots of MI reports to produce each month-end. I tend start work 8:00am ish and leave anything from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, and logon from home some evenings too. It is an interesting job with a lot of variety, and a fair amount of query solving. The reason I am saying all this is because although I no longer have little ones to look after now that my son and daughter are older, my days are far from quiet. When I decided to do the Gateway course I did wonder how I would fit in full-time work, studying, and keeping up with friends and family. I am happy to report so far so good. I have had a couple of ‘pulling all-nighters’ to get my essay done (which my son at Uni of Leeds thinks is hilarious, and said welcome to my world Mum!), but there were extenuating circumstances for that, it is not due to the pressure of the course.
I find that I need to set aside definite evenings for the research, reading of articles, and essay production, as just hoping it would all fall into place nicely didn’t work out that well as a strategy! I am becoming a little more disciplined, but still need to make myself adhere to it. I will report back soon as to how I am doing with that.
I have written a little more than I intended so I hope some of you who are reading this have made it to the end of the blog. If you have any questions at all please do just ask, you have probably seen by now that I like to write, and will answer anything at all quite happily.
And finally, I haven’t yet lost the sense of awe as I wander around the University of Warwick, although I missed the Higher Education ‘boat’ at 18, I intend to enjoy as many aspects of University life as I can for the time that I am a student here.
- Warwick campus for the mature student
- Exams to pass
- Degree Modules to consider