After leaving school at sixteen, I never imagined that I would attend university, especially as I was not the star pupil at my school. A short while after giving birth to Milo, I decided it was the perfect time for me to concentrate on getting a career that I had always wanted but thought I could never achieve. I applied for three universities but I was only accepted into the one that I did not actually want to attend. Having said this, it turned out to be the most eye opening and uplifting education experience I have endured and I am continuing to do my postgraduate at the same university. Being a mature student is not the easiest thing but it is so rewarding, especially when you manage to gain a first class honours.
When I first started university, Milo was only two so balancing home life and university was quite tricky. I was at university on a full time basis, and I worked part time. This meant that my time was very limited and I was studying of an evening or sometimes my family and friends would look after Milo when my essay deadlines approached. When you are a parent and a full time student, your time is so scarce as understandably, your main priority are your children, but you always manage to find time to study, you just have to. One of my peers, who I am very very fond of, always claimed he had no time to study. He did not work, he had no children, but yet he claimed he had no time. On numerous occasions, he would text me or my other friend, two hours before the deadline asking for help. More times than not I was at work because deadlines were always on Fridays of which I worked. I always questioned him, how have you not got enough time? You attend university three times a week? And the other four days, I am not quite sure…
Some of my friends from school attended universities away from home and I always saw pictures of them on Facebook regularly out, drinking and having a laugh. This gave me a perception and worry before I attended university as I thought that everyone was going to be bonding over nights out that I would not always be able to attend due to my responsibilities. However, to my surprise most of my peers lived in London with their families and did not party as much as the stereotypical student, which made me feel much happier. Having said this, if my peers spontaneously went out for a drink or even for dinner after university I would seldom attend. Milo is my main priority, so I need to collect him from school. A lot of people would say ‘oh just ask your mum to pick him up’, and to be honest, my mum is so hands on so she would of probably picked him up. But if I tell Milo that I will be collecting him; I have to stick to my word, as I do not want to disappoint him. I want Milo to be collected as are his peers, by their parents and that’s why I rarely went out with my peers from university. Not because I did not want to but because giving Milo a good routine and making him happy is much more important to me. Nevertheless, I was not a recluse (until third year). I managed to maintain a good social life with my peers that I have been friends with since school, meeting them for planned dinners, holidays and partying.
People often say to me, I don’t know how you do it, how do you manage? I genuinely did not even think that my first and second year was unmanageable; people have far busier lives than me and achieve what I did with children and jobs. Third year on the other hand, sometimes I did question my ability. I wanted a first so bad and I wanted to work as much as I could to achieve it but I was so tired, probably due to being pregnant. I finished my first and second years with firsts so I felt the pressure was on but only pressure I had given myself. Luckily for me, my family wanted to me achieve as much as I did. My support system was strong and everyone helped me as much as they could. Friends, Grandparents and uncles offered to take Milo to the park, or for play dates allowing me to study hard. However, sometimes everyone was busy and Milo’s school holidays did not always coincide with mine so Milo and his I pad attended university with me. I am so grateful for the help I received, if it is offered to you, you should accept it when you need it!
Staying organised is essential for any student; it will help you to succeed. If I attended university as a teenager, I would have not of been organised and I would have been out drinking all of the time and prioritising the wrong things. I think for people like myself, I did not know what I wanted to do when I was younger. It was only recently that I realised what I am passionate about. I did not benefit from the rigid education system we have in the UK where we are all pressured into picking the right A-Levels to get into university when we are still so young. I am glad I walked the path I did as I have thoroughly enjoyed my Undergrad; Education Studies BA. My degree, as the name gives it away was focused around Education and focused on children’s psychology, policy and procedures for children in schools, philosophy of education, mainstream schooling compared to alternative systems (Steiner, Summer Hill), social and emotional aspects of a child’s life and much much more. My undergrad, was prefect me for, as I have managed to use the knowledge gained at university to parenting Milo and now Oscar and I think that is why I enjoyed it as much as I did.
I am just about to embark on my next education journey, my Psychology Masters. I am starting my reading for October to ensure that I am knowledgeable before teaching starts. I know this is not going to be easy with a five year old and a little baby but nothing worth having is easy right? If you are debating returning to education, go for it. It might be tiring and challenging, but you will not regret it!!