Joe Wicks, Duolingo and crossroads…
During lockdown, perhaps you have had more time to think than usual. This Fermata, or The Great Pause as I like to refer to this current craziness, has proffered some of us time to evaluate what is important in our lives. Are you even happy in your job or your relationships? Does your work align with your values? Does it drain you or enthuse you? What have you since discovered that you want to continue when this is all over? I have become obsessed with Joe Wicks’ PE lessons and Duolingo, so I am intent on learning Italian and Hindi and becoming fitter and healthier than ever before. Age is only a number, after all.
Regardless of our strange, and hopefully healthy, obsessions, we all stand at a crossroads and must decide what direction to take next, when the time is right. I was at a similar crossroads when I joined Warwick four years ago. I mentioned in previous blogs that I was working part-time in retail, enjoying all the benefits that come from earning a minimum wage and being treated like an easily replaceable commodity.
Regarding my previous education, GCSEs came at the wrong time for me as a hormonal teenager trying to navigate a crazy world that I didn’t seem to belong in, so I did not follow the traditional route of going straight from school to college to uni. I dropped out of college because I had no guidance or aspirations. I worked and consumed, got a mortgage and accumulated horrendous amounts of debt that kept me firmly fixed on that hamster wheel of working in admin jobs I didn’t enjoy, just to pay bills. Throughout my adult life I tried to get my A-levels because I love learning, but did not accomplish that until after divorce, when I completed an Access to Higher Education course to help my self-confidence, on recommendation from a friend who had also enjoyed the transformative experience. She continued her studies, got her BSc degree and is one of our national superheroes, working on the frontline for the NHS. But, being a stay at home mom, while obviously transforming you into a domestic goddess, can guzzle any self-confidence and thoughts of success in the real world if you don’t keep your skills up to date.
Fortunately, Warwick’s gateway and 2+2 programmes do not even require you to have A-levels nor indeed any formal academic qualifications. It is a great way to learn new transferable skills and expand your knowledge. I’ve said before that this course really opened my eyes. The university also provides loads of academic skills workshops and opportunities to learn new software skills or develop existing ones. I have found the Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) staff to be helpful and the lecturers are friendly and approachable. I also get the feeling staff really want the students to succeed and they have always been very helpful whenever I have asked for advice. The lecturers would rather you ask for help than struggle. But, you need to be able to ask for help and do whatever it takes to succeed. There will be wobbles and times you will want to walk away from it all. As a student, you have to be committed to your goals and you MUST have the right attitude to succeed despite the challenges, and as mature students there are plenty! I can only speak about my experiences on the 2+2 Social Studies course, but it was worth all the coffee, sweat and tears.
Obviously, this is just one humble overview of my journey in higher education as an adult, but I would say right now you don’t need to believe anything anyone else says. This is your life. Have your own experiences!
Onwards and funwards into your fabulous future, wherever it takes you xXx